Know the Signs of Tapeworm in Your Cat

Tapeworms are long, white, and flat segmented organisms that reside in the intestines of pets such as dogs and cats. These parasites possess male and female reproductive organs and anchor themselves to their host’s intestinal walls with hook-like mouthparts. While there are various types of tapeworms, the most common ones found in felines include dipylidium caninum, taenia, and echinococcus species. 

What Signs Should You Look Out For? 

Although tapeworms in cats hardly cause serious diseases, certain symptoms can alert you of their presence. However, these symptoms vary, and your cat’s condition and age can affect how they manifest. While healthy adult cats may show fewer signs, adults with compromised immune systems and kittens may have more serious symptoms. That said, here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • Intestinal blockage and complications
  • Shaggy coat
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Segments of tapeworm in feces that look like rice grains
  • Seizures
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting 
  • Anal itch (when tapeworm segment migrate to the anal area)

How Do Tapeworms Infect Cats? 

Cats can inject tapeworms in various ways, depending on the tapeworm species. Most often, tapeworms need an intermediate host, which cats consume. That said, here are some ways tapeworms in cats occur: 

  • Eating fleas
  • Eating mice and other rodents
  • Eating frogs, snakes, or fish

When To See Your Vet 

It’s prudent to take your cat to the vet if you notice any symptoms to prevent complications. They will then diagnose tapeworms through fecal examination, looking for proglottids or eggs. Your vet must determine what kind of tapeworm is living in your cat to administer the right treatment. Medications like fenbendazole, epsiprantel, and praziquantel effectively eliminate tapeworms, so keep this in mind. However, you also have a part to play in your cat’s recovery. Consequently, ensure that they take their medications and monitor them constantly to ensure their optimum health. 

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