roundworms in cats and methods to use to prevent them


Roundworms in Cats and Methods to Use to Prevent Them

July 15, 2016

Ascarids or roundworms are parasites commonly found in cats and yes, your cats have risks of being infected by these parasites. If you have cats, you should be extra careful so that your cats don’t get infected by roundworms. You have to know about roundworms in cats if you have cats and you care a lot about their health.

Roundworms are common parasites of the digestive tract in cats and they infect many young animals. The worms themselves are considerably important in catteries. They are the kind of parasites that can cause disease in humans but they’re actually of quite important to our health.

Adult roundworms usually live in their hosts’ small intestines. An infected cat can pass millions of these worms’ eggs in their feces every day. The parasites can also infect reptiles and birds but the ones in reptiles and birds are of different species and genus from the ones found in cats.

Types of Roundworms in Cats

types of roundworms in cats


Roundworms look like spaghetti and they are 3-5 inches long. There are two species of roundworms affecting cats and they are called toxascaris leonina and toxocara cati. The species often found in cats is toxocara cati. The parasites feed themselves by eating the hosts’ intestinal contents, scarily competing with the hosts for food.

How Cats Get Roundworms

how cats get roundworms


Knowledge on how your cats get roundworms is important to you if you want to prevent the parasites from infecting your cats. There are three transmission modes and all three of them occur when cats consume the infective eggs. Larvae might also be encysted in cats’ tissues from earlier infections.

The first transmission mode is transmammary transmission. When cats are infected with toxocara cati, some larvae will migrate to some other tissues in the cats’ bodies. Pregnancy can re-activate the larvae, which by the time their hosts get pregnant, start migrating to mammary glands. They’ll then be passed onto kittens via breastfeeding.

Hunting is also among the three transmission modes. Rodents can actually act as hosts to roundworms. When cats kill and consume their prey, they can get infected by the parasites. That’s why it’s important to control your cats and prevent them from hunting because rodents can actually be immediate hosts to roundworms.

Environment is also something you should not overlook if you don’t want your cats to get roundworms. Cats can ingest dangerous roundworm eggs that contain infective larvae from the soul or when they have contact with an infected cat’s feces.

Environment can be pretty dangerous for cats and you have to try your best to prevent your cats from getting roundworms from the places around you.

The Life Cycle of Roundworms in Cats

the life cycle of roundworms in cats


The life cycle of these parasites is something you definitely have to know about if you are worried about your cats getting infected by them. First of all, let’s talk about the toxocara cati. Toxocara cati eggs are passed in cats’ feces and at this stage, the eggs are not infective.

Once the eggs arrive in the environment, they then develop into second stage larvae. The eggs need around three weeks to turn into second stage larvae. Once they turn into these larvae, they become infective. What’s scary is the eggs can actually survive in the environment not only for a short of time but for months.

A cats usually ingest eggs which contain the infective larvae and once the eggs are inside the cat’s body, they hatch in the poor animal’ intestinal tract. Once they hatch, the larvae then migrate to the cat’s liver, as well as other organs. The larvae develop into their third stage once in the liver.

After developing into the third stage, the larvae enter the cat’s bloodstream and then migrate to the poor animal’s lungs. They develop into four stage larvae once they arrive in the lungs. They’ll be coughed up and they get into the cat’s throat after that. Once they get into the throat, the cat will swallow them once again.

After getting swallowed for the second time, the larvae re-enter the cat’s intestinal tract again. They mature and then begin to mate once they get in the intestinal tract. After mating, the female will lay her eggs. The eggs will then be passed in the feces and the cycle begins one more time.

Scarily, some of the larvae are encysted in the cat’s tissues in which they become dormant or inactive. When a cat gets wormed, worms residing in the intestines get killed. However, the encysted larvae are not killed and they’re still there in the cat’s tissues.

In rodents’ case, a rodent usually swallows the parasites’ eggs and then the eggs hatch inside the poor rodent’s intestinal tract. After hatching, the larvae migrate to the rodent’s organs and they become encysted there. The larvae cannot complete their life cycle in a rodent. However, if a cat eats an infected rodent, the cat can get infected. Now let’s move to the life cycle of the toxoscaris leonina.

Toxoscaris leonina’s eggs are passed in a cat’s feces. The feces become a place where the eggs develop into its second stage and turn into infective larvae. The larvae are then consumed by a cat. They then hatch in the poor cat’s intestinal tract after getting consumed. Toxoscaris leonina cannot be transmitted through transmammary transmission.

Signs That Show Your Cats Have Roundworms

signs that show your cats have roundworms


If your cats are in a poor condition and they appear rough and dull, they might be infected with roundworms. A poor condition and rough and dull appearance are only two of the signs showing that your cats have roundworms.

Another sign to note is diarrhea. Your cats are likely to have roundworms if they suffer from diarrhea. Vomiting is also a sign of a cat having roundworms. If your cats vomit and the infestation is heavy, be worried because there might be worms in your cats’ vomit.

A pot bellied appearance is also a sign to note. This often happens to kittens. If your adult cats or your kittens have a pot bellied appearance, you definitely have to be worried because this could be a sign your cats have roundworms.

Pneumonia is another sign. It is because severe cases of roundworm infections can actually lead to pneumonia, as well as intestinal and bowel blockage, which can be quite dangerous. Take a good care of your cats and always do your best to observe them to find out whether one of these signs is present in them or not.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Roundworms in Cats

diagnosis and treatment for roundworms in cats


Roundworms can be diagnosis and the method used to diagnose them is examination of the feces. Examining the feces is one of the best methods to use because this method only needs a cat’s feces to try to find out whether roundworm eggs are present in the feces or not.

There are many medications you can use to treat roundworms in your cats. The common worming medications you can use are in topical or tablet form. A number of applications like Revolution, for example, can treat fleas and some worm varieties like hookworm, tapeworm, and roundworm. They can be administered onto a cat’s skin on the back of its neck once every month.

Roundworms in Cats and Whether They are Dangerous or Not

roundworms in cats and whether they are dangerous or not


Speaking of roundworms in cats, if the infestation is severe, it can cause pneumonia and dangerous intestinal blockage. In addition, because the worms compete with hosts for food, infestation can cause cats to fail to receive enough nutrients and as a result, the cats become malnourished. This often happens to kittens.

Roundworms are quite dangerous because it can even affect indoor only cats. Indoor cats still have risks of catching roundworms. It is wise to worm indoor cats regularly unless a veterinarian advises otherwise. After all, roundworms can actually infect both outdoor and indoor cats.

Roundworms are both contagious and not to other cats. One can never be sure that their cats won’t get infected by the worms when other cats in the same vicinity are infected. Mother cats can pass the parasites onto their kittens via their milk or placenta.

Cats cannot directly spread roundworms, though. Infection only occurs when the eggs are ingested from the environment. This is a reason for why it is very important to make sure to dispose of feces once a day at the very least.

roundworms in cats


Dangerously, aside from cats, humans can also catch roundworms. Toxocariasis is a disease humans can suffer from and this disease is caused by roundworm egg infection. Many cases have been identified as T. Canis infection. T. Cati infection has occasionally been indentified as well.

However, in humans, roundworms won’t go past larval stage or stage 2. This is very different to infection in rodents. In rodents, the larvae migrate to the animal’s tissues and cause a disease named toxocariasis or visceral larva migrans. The tissues in rodents that usually get infected include the liver, eyes, brain, and lungs.

Toxocariasis itself is divided into two types. The first one is OLM or ocular larva migrans. This is a condition which is caused by the larvae entering the eye. After entering the eye, the larvae cause an inflammatory response resulting in damage to the eye. Scarily, in severe cases, it can actually cause blindness.

The next type is VLM or visceral larva migrans. This is a condition where the larvae migrate to various organs and then cause what is called an inflammatory immune response. An inflammatory immune response is quite dangerous because it can cause damage to organs.

Roundworm larvae are able to stay alive for months and cause damage by simply migrating through tissues. The fact that the larvae can stay alive for months is one of the things that make them dangerous. There are things you have to consider doing if you don’t want roundworms to mess with your cats’ health.

Things to Do to Prevent Roundworms from Infecting Cats

things to do to prevent roundworms from infecting cats


There are a number of things you can do to prevent roundworms from infecting your cats. One of them is preventing hunting behavior. You should never allow your cats to hunt preys because hunting is one of the things causing roundworm eggs to enter cats. Keep track of your cats to make sure they don’t get risks of catching roundworms.

The next thing to do is de-worming your cats every 3 to 6 months. You can also de-worm them according to the schedules stated on the worming medication you purchase. Another method to use to prevent roundworms from infecting your cats is disposing of their feces in the garbage.

Never put your cats’ feces in the garden and make sure you always dispose of them in the garbage. Keeping your cat’s litter trays clean is also another thing you have to do to prevent roundworms from infecting your beloved little friends. Solids have to be scooped once or twice a day at the very least.

When scooping solids, you also need to do it thoroughly on top of doing it once or twice each day. Litter trays should always be kept clean and solids should be scooped thoroughly once or twice each day. In addition, they should also be disinfected thoroughly once every week.

If you plan to mate your female cats, you should de-worm them prior to mating. Also, make sure they get another dose late in their pregnancies. Of course, female cats who are about to be mated are not the only ones you need to de-worm.

Kittens have to be de-wormed as well and they should be de-wormed from when their age reaches two weeks. Kittens have to be de-wormed once they are two weeks old and from that point on, they need to be de-wormed every two weeks until they are twelve weeks old.

Roundworms are undeniably quite dangerous and you have to do your best to prevent them from infecting your beloved cats. Do some of the things mentioned earlier to prevent the parasites from infecting your cats and leaving your lovely little friends in conditions that make you cry a river.

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