Intestinal Parasites in Cats…

Ancylostoma caninum, a type of hookworm, attac...
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Cats can harbor a variety of intestinal parasites, some of which are important to human health as well.  Some of the more common parasites that you might be familiar with include:

Roundworms and Hookworms

Even if your cat has been wormed, a mother cat can transmit roundworms and hookworms to her kittens. Although these worms occasionally cause diarrhea or other symptoms of illness, most infected kittens appear normal. Because the worms cannot always be detected in the laboratory and since they can be harmful to children’s health, we take preventive measures to protect your pet and your family.

Tapeworms

If you see a worm or something you aren’t sure about, put it in a baggie along with a piece of moist paper towel and bring it to our clinic.

Little short white worms (1/2 inch long or less) are probably tapeworm segments. When the segments dry they look like grains of brown rice and may stick to your cat’s hair. If you see anything like this, let us know and we will dispense tapeworm medicine to use at home. We don’t really worry much about tapeworms but we do know that the common tapeworm is almost never a problem for people. If you see segments under your cat’s tail or in the litter box, contact your veterinarian. Prescription tapeworm drugs are extremely effective and cause no discomfort. The tapeworms are digested and disappear. Non-prescription tapeworm medications are very unpleasant for the cat and don’t work well.

Coccidiosis

Coccidia is a microscopic parasite that attacks the lining of the intestine.  Most cases go undetected, but coccidiosis is a common cause of diarrhea in kittens. Any pet with persistent diarrhea should have a fecal test performed to check for coccidia and other parasites.

There are a few parasites that aren’t eliminated by the usual worming medication. If your kitten has diarrhea, don’t delay… contact us immediately. Please also be prepared to bring a fecal sample. We will test it for worm eggs, Giardia and protozoan parasites such as coccidia. Bring in a small sample, about the size of a marble, still reasonably soft and not more than a day old. If it is real soft, scrape up what you can. We know that this isn’t a pleasant chore and it is acceptable to have some kitty litter in the sample…the most important factor being to gather a sample and bring it with your veterinary appointment.

Our veterinarians prefer to take preventive measures so clients are not faced with the worry and expense of treating their feline friends for parasites.  Call us today at 614-888-4050 to schedule an examination for your pet!  The preventive measures you take today will save you worry and money tomorrow!

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