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Worms in Cats: Intestinal Parasitic Infection
Intestinal parasites, such as helminths and protozoa, are organisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract (gut) of animals and humans.
When a parasite enters a cat and starts living in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract it’s called an intestinal parasitic infection.
Helminths are worms composed of many cells such as tapeworms, pinworms and roundworms. Protozoa are single-celled organisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium that multiply inside the body.
COMMON INTESTINAL PARASITES
WHICH CATS ARE MOST AT RISK OF INTESTINAL PARASITIC INFECTION?
- Cats in shelters
- Those with fleas
- That hunt and eat rodents
- Ones that eat faeces of infected cats
- Cats that frequently visit grooming centres
- In catteries or boarding facilities
- Frequently exposed to soil where other animals defecate
- And kittens that don’t receive regular parasite control treatment
SYMPTOMS OF INTESTINAL PARASITIC INFECTION
Some cats don’t show any or only a few signs of infection, which may not even be obvious. In worse cases, symptoms can include:
- Weakness, anaemia or fever
- Confusion & tremors
- Dull coat
- Abdominal swelling
- Dry nose and mouth
- Weight loss or anorexia
- Pale mucous membranes
- Watery and/or bloody stool
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
- Reduced or lack of appetite
- Reluctant or unable to exercise
- Inability to control bowel movements
SEVERE DEHYDRATION OR ANAEMIA CAN CAUSE ORGAN FAILURE & DEATH
WHY TREATING INTESTINAL PARASITIC INFECTION IS IMPORTANT
- Infections weaken the immune system
- Untreated infections put animals and people at risk
- Infections can lead to serious (sometimes life-threatening) health problems
- The effects of an infection can be very painful and cause suffering
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOUR CAT HAS AN INTESTINAL PARASITIC INFECTION
It’s important to contact your veterinarian as soon as symptoms appear. If intestinal parasitic infection is diagnosed, treatment should start immediately. There are specific treatments for some parasites, so don’t try to treat your pet without a veterinarian’s instructions. There are different deworming medications and some can be harmful if administered incorrectly or unnecessarily.