How to Handle Tapeworms in Cats

How to Handle Tapeworms in Cats

Have you been suspicious of your pet suffering from tapeworms? Wondering how to handle tapeworms in cats? Tapeworms have been a huge problem in both indoor and outdoor cats. Tapeworms usually have a negative effect on the cat’s weight gain and health.

Imagine your pet having these tapeworms in his or her stomach. He or she will probably reduce significantly in size and it can lack or deficit essential nutrients in the body, among other issues that are brought about by these tapeworms. Unfortunately, these tapeworms are common among pets, including cats.

What are tapeworms?

Knowing some of the dangers associated with tapeworms, one wonders what they are. Tapeworms are a type of worms that are long, flat and usually white and look like tape. They belong to a different family from other intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms which happen to be the most common parasites in cats. Several different types of tapeworms can infect your cat, but the most common type of tapeworms in cats is the Dipylidium caninum.

Their body is segmented from neck to tail. Its mouth has six teeth, that are hook-like and used by the parasite to attach itself to the lining of the small intestines. This way, it becomes permanently attached there camping as it waits for the cat’s ingested food. Most tapeworms are about 8 inches long when fully grown, but some can grow up to even 20 inches long.  As they grow, they begin to shed segments of themselves; these segments are scientifically known as proglottids. (Proglottids are part of their body in the size of a grain of rice that breaks off and are passed into the cat’s faeces). Occasionally, these proglottids can be seen moving on the hairs around the anus of your cat. As they dry, they become golden in colour and lastly they break open. This way they release a fertilized egg into the environment which can hatch to become tapeworms. A single proglottid can contain up to 20 tapeworm eggs.

How do cats get tapeworms?

Cats get tapeworms by ingesting infected fleas; a tapeworm egg is ingested by a flea larva (This is an immature stage of a flea). The flea larvae chew the tapeworm case and swallow the microscopic ova of the tapeworm. One in the flea lava, the tapeworm continues to grow and develop as the flea larva grows into an adult flea.

As you might have noticed with your cat, they groom themselves. When a cat gets bitten by a flea during grooming, it responds to the bite and inadvently gets rid of the flea by swallowing it. The flea moves on from the stomach to the intestine as it gets digested the tapeworm eggs are released. From its release, it hatches and the tapeworm gets hooked in the intestinal lining hence completing the lifecycle.

Surprisingly, unlike other kinds of intestinal parasites, cats cannot be infected by eating the tapeworm eggs directly. The tapeworms are ingested into the cat by consuming a flea that carries the eggs. This makes the flea the intermediate host.

For these reasons, cats can get tapeworms from any place that is infested by fleas. May it be indoor or outdoor. From outdoor, they can get them from the dirty rags to dirty places that have fleas. From the indoors, they can get it from the dirty rugs, dirty sofas, dirty carpets, dirty bedding, so long as they have fleas or flea larvae.

Are some cats susceptible to getting infected by a flea?

As mentioned before, fleas can not be infected by tapeworms directly, except through the infected fleas. This means that despite one having not seen the flea, if the tapeworms infect your cat, then it must have come in counter with the fleas. This means that tapeworms are more common in areas that are infested with fleas. Consequently, tapeworms are more common in cats that live in unhygienic areas and cats infected with fleas. This being so, it is advisable that whenever your cut tests positive for tapeworms, treat your cat for fleas and use the flea control to prevent flea infestations in the future.

Health problems associated with Tapeworms in Cats.

Tapeworms are not known to cause any diseases to your cat directly. However, They affect your cat’s general weight as they cause weight loss, especially in large numbers.

It may also cause your cat lots of discomforts as it may want to scratch on its hide often due to the itchiness. Occasionally, you may see it dragging its hide on objects or bitting it often.

Preventing Tapeworms from Cats.

It is possible to prevent your cats from tapeworms. At six weeks of age, your kittens should be given monthly preventative treatment against the tapeworms. After becoming Six months, they get scheduled their treatment every other month. The older they become, the better they are at fighting infections. In their adult hold, they can now receive preventative treatment twice a year, every six months. However, this will depend on their needs. The monthly feline preventative felines of cats do not usually contain the medication required to eliminate tapeworms. For the outdoor cats, primarily that hunt a lot, reinfection can occur as soon as 6 to 8 weeks. For this reason, cat deworming is necessary for sooner intervals than those of indoor cats.

Note: Before giving your cat any preventative treatment for tapeworms, kindly consult your vet to get the right dosage and understand if it’s the right medicine.

The fleas are known to be the intermediate hosts that infect cats with tapeworms. Therefore, de fleeing your furry friends is another way of keeping the tapeworms at bay. Therefore, occasional flea spot treatment will play the part of discouraging fleas from infesting your cat. More so, flea oral medication and collars can as well get rid of the flea the cat.

Kindly before giving your cat any medication consult your vet.

When taking walks or during your outdoor activities, clean after your cat. This can be done by burying the faeces or wrapping it up in a plastic bag and disposing of it in the trash.

Unluckily there is no vaccine for tapeworms in both humans and animals. Vaccines are only eligible for viral infections, and tapeworms do not fall into this category, but instead, they are worms. Nevertheless, talk to your vet on the scheduled vaccination series to deworm your cat from worms and other worms that can infect your cat.

Tapeworm Symptoms in Cats

Your cat may seem healthy and still have tapeworms. Unfortunately, most cats do not show any signs of illness when infected by tapeworms. However, cats who have flea infestation are more likely to end up with large amounts of tapeworms in their small intestines and fore this reason; there is a more significant potential for them to experience symptoms. These symptoms include: –

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Unpredictable appetite – often, a cat with tapeworms will feel full as their intestines. Other times they may need to eat a lot to compensate for the food consumed by the tapeworms.

Weight loss– This is mainly because the little food they consume is often shared with the parasite. Your cat may seem to lose weight even when feeding their reasonable share.

Vomiting– this is often due to the tapeworm’s migration from the small intestine into your cat’s stomach, making it vomit Intestinal blockage and complications.



Shaggy coat due to poor feeding.

Sometimes, your cat may be seen trying to scratch the butt or be constantly lick the anal area. This is because the tapeworm migration to the anal area may be causing excessive anal itching.

The Haw’s Syndrome, a condition that causes the prolapse in the nictitating membrane or the third eye, is a condition that is at times linked with the heavy presence of tapeworms in a cat. The syndrome is often associated with severe dehydration in cats. However, sometimes it is linked with severe diseases of the stomach and the intestines mostly due to parasites like tapeworms, intestinal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and viral enteritis. Notably, the absence or the lack of Haw’s Syndrome does not rule -out the presence of intestinal parasite and disease and other intestine associated diseases.

Cats can have some of these symptoms, all and at times, none of them. Notably, cats with small infection may not show any of these symptoms. Those with high infections may have severe and rare symptoms like intestinal blockages, seizures, and drastically decreased body conditions. If your pet exhibits any of the symptoms or suspects, your cat has the above symptoms. Hence you need to handle tapeworms in cats.

Diagnosing tapeworms in cats proves to be difficult primarily through mere observation. This is because cats are known to be very vigilant groomers. As their nature, they can bury the evidence before anyone gets a chance to notice the tapeworm infection as they cover their stool in the litterbox. More so, they groom themselves often, and the moment they feel some movements in their hides, they clean it up immediately.

Your cat’s keen observation, despite all the shortcomings, is the best way to detect tapeworms in your cats. Therefore, its advisable to occasionally check on your cats as the vets rely on cat parents to notice these changes.

Treatment for cat tapeworms.

How do you handle tapeworms in cats? It’s an easy step as ABC. Definitely through treatment. Treatment options include injection, oral, or topical medication. But because cats almost always get tapeworms as a result of swallowing a flea, be sure to handle any flea problems your cat has before tackling tapeworms.

The best thing about tapeworm treatment is that it is easy and effective. In case your cat is infected, then consult your vet to advise you or give you the best medicine for the tapeworm or the deworming medicine. In most incidences, most of the deworming medicines are usually oral medication. Nevertheless, if you prefer the injection type of medication for whatever reasons, they are also available.

Typically, the deworming medication dissolves the tapeworms in the intestines. You cannot see any remains off the tapeworms in the cat’s droppings as they have been digested already. More so, they have no side effects like those of vomiting and diarrhea.

Notably, as much as one dosage of dewormers is considered useful in clearing the tapeworms, it is always advisable to repeat a dosage about two to three weeks later after the first dosage.

NB: Effective flea control measures must be put in place to prevent future tapeworm infestation in your cats.

How long does it take to cure tapeworm in my cat after treatment?

In case you are wondering after giving your cat some medicine, how long will it take before clearing the tapeworms? Luckily for your cat, most tapeworm medications get rid of the adult tapeworms within 24 hours after ingesting the medication. However, your cat requires a second dosage 3 to 4 weeks after the first dose to get rid of remaining tapeworms and larvae at the time of treatment. This makes you understand how to handle tapeworms in cats. Consult your vet before giving your cat any tapeworm prescription to understand how the prescribed medication works.

Can I get tapeworms from an infected cat?

Humans can not be infected by cats’ tapeworms directly. Humans can be infected with flea tapeworms if they accidentally consume an infected flea, which is after patting their flea infected cats. Some of the tapeworms that are consumed can cause a disease called “hydatid disease” in humans.  Hydatid disease is a disease where the cysts grow in organs, which can be severe and, at times, fatal. To reduce the possibility of ingesting tapeworms, it is better to treat your cat and more so maintain good hygiene within your home.

Comparing adults and children, Children get more infected by tapeworms than adults, just like cats.

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