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Intestinal  Parasites & Heartworms of Cats

 Cat worms are one of the most detrimental things to a Cat's overall health. Not only can worms eat away at the intestines, but they can also consume nutrients from Intestine of  animal. Worms are dangerous no matter where they are located throughout a cat's body; yet when worms target the heart, they cause the eventual shutdown of organs relying on the heart for blood and oxygen. 

Cats can get a variety of intestinal parasites, including some that are commonly referred to as “worms.” Infestations of intestinal worms can cause a variety of symptoms. Sometimes cats demonstrate few to no outward signs of infection, and the infestation can go undetected despite being a potentially serious health problem. Some feline parasitic worms are hazards for humane health as well.

Feline worms can be a concern when you get a new kitten, and very dangerous for older cats. Outdoor cats are particularly vulnerable, as they are more likely to be exposed to the sources of parasite worms. The two most common worms affecting felines are roundworms and tapeworms. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of these parasites, so that you can get treatment for your kitty as soon as possible.

Roundworms: The most common type of worm is roundworm. This type of worm is often transmitted to kittens from their mother. Infection may also be transmitted by contact with the stools of infected cats, or by intermediate hosts, such as rodents, birds or insects. If your cat is infected, you may see worms in her stool, or she may vomit worms. The roundworm averages two to five inches in length, with tapered ends. They look a lot like pieces of spaghetti. Roundworms can cause your kitten to have a pot-bellied appearance, as well as lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. If roundworms are too many, they can create an intestinal blockage.

Tapeworms are another common parasite in cats. They are most often transmitted by fleas, although sometimes cats may become infected if they eat an infected rodent. Tapeworms are long, flat, segmented worms that live in the intestinal tract. Little pieces of these worms break off from the host worm, and may appear in your cat's stool, or as white squirmy things around your cat's rectum. You may also find bits of dead segments in your cat's sleeping areas; these resemble little grains of rice. Tapeworms rob your cat of nutrients, causing weight loss and other symptoms of malnutrition.

 Hookworms are much smaller than roundworms-less than an inch long-and reside primarily in the small intestine. Because they feed on an animal’s blood, hookworms can cause life-threatening anemia, especially in kittens. Hookworm eggs are passed in the stool and hatch into larvae, and a cat can become infected either through ingestion or skin contact. Please note, hookworms are more common in dogs than in cats.

Giardiasis: Infection of cats with the protozoan Giardia lamblia is associated with acute or chronic gastrointestinal disease ranging in severity from subclinical to severe. A licensed vaccine is available in the US as an aid in the prevention of disease associated with G. lamblia infection and reduction in the severity of shedding of cysts.

Coccidiosis in cats is a parasitic type of infection, caused by the Coccidia parasite. It most commonly causes watery, mucus based diarrhea in animals. If it is not treated, over time it can cause damage to the lining of a cat's intestinal tract. With appropriate and prompt treatment, the prognosis is good.

Toxoplasmosis in Cats: Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite. It is one of the most common parasitic diseases and is known to affect nearly all warm-blooded animals and humans, but cats are the primary living host.

Cryptosporidiosis in Cats: Cryptosporidium is an intestinal parasite that is commonly ingested through contaminated water, food or feces. The resulting diseased condition, cryptosporidiosis, can typically be treated effectively with medications. This disease is no more likely to affect one breed than another, and is commonly seen in kittens.

Feline Heartworm Disease

The first reported case of Dirofilaria immitis in a cat was in 1922 in Virginia.  This cat had 2 adult worms in the right ventricle.  Research into feline heartworm disease has grown significantly since then, and is recognized as a potentially life threatening disease.  Feline heartworm disease is very important clinically because even a light infection is capable of producing severe, life threatening disease. According to the American Heartworm Society, feline heartworm disease has been found in "each of the contiguous 48 States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.”

For more info: Feline Heartworm Animation

 How to Prevent  internal  Worm Infestations:

The best way to prevent your cat from contacting any kind of worm is to take it in for an annual exam. While you’re there, you can ask your vet to recommend a broad-spectrum preventive products.The newest of these products will protect your cat against heartworms, roundworms, whipworms, and even fleas.

Be sure to keep your cat flea free as it only through fleas that your cat can contact tapeworms.

Try not to expose your cat to stray animals or wildlife, as they often carry fleas and other parasites. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your cat away from cat parks that are not well maintained, as these can be a source of parasites

Keep your cat from eating animal carcasses, such as those of birds, rodents and rabbits. These carcasses can carry immature worms that then mature into adult worms after your cat ingests them.

Don’t let your cat eat feces that are either his own or from other cats or animals.

Inspect your cat’s anus and feces regularly and look for signs of tapeworms. As indicated above, tapeworm segments are small, wide and flat and resemble grains of rice.

Finally, have your veterinarian check the cat’s stool specimen when it has its annual checkup.

As you can see, there are a number of parasites that can infect your cat. This makes it doubly important that you take your cat in for a regular check up as this is the only way to make sure it remains parasite free.



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