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Roundworms In Cats

Two types of roundworms can infect felines; Toxascara leonina and Toxocara cati. Like tapeworms or hookworms, roundworms are intestinal parasites commonly found in animals, especially cats. Once they find a viable host, they migrate to their intestines and feed off the nutrients found in the host’s diet.

These types of roundworm look very similar; however, only Toxocara cati can cause health issues in humans, so it's important to understand how to keep you and your feline friend safe. No one wants to think about worms infecting their pet’s body, let alone your own.


How Does My Cat Get Roundworms?

Cats can ingest roundworm larvae in a few different ways: by eating the eggs, through mother's milk, or by eating another organism such as a beetle or rodent which carries roundworm larvae. Swallowed larvae produce numerous eggs, which are passed in the feces. Eggs only become infective after two-four weeks in the environment.


Types of Feline Roundworms

Toxocara cati roundworms are common, especially in kittens. Both cats and kittens can ingest eggs due to eating rodents or infected carriers such as beetles or earthworms. The eggs then hatch into larvae inside the cat's digestive system. However, kittens can ingest larvae from the infected mother's milk.


Toxascara leonina is much less common and is usually seen in older cats or dogs. Their eggs are shed in the feces, and once ingested, they develop into adult roundworms in the intestines and eventually shed more eggs.


Either of the roundworms mentioned above can cause the following symptoms:

  • Failure to gain weight or weight loss

  • Pot-bellied appearance

  • Adult worms in vomit or stool (usually in kittens)

  • Diarrhea

  • Dull hair coat

  • Coughing due to the larval migration through the lungs.


If you notice any of the above symptoms, call your local urgent care vet or emergency vet immediately; if a roundworm infection is not caught in time, it can become so severe that it blocks the intestines.


Treatment For Roundworms

There are several medications that your local urgent care vet or emergency vet can use to treat a roundworm infection in your cat. Medications will only work to clear adult roundworms, so the medications need to be repeated at a two to three-week interval to deal with any residual larvae that have matured.


Prevention

Cats who spend time outdoors or who spend time with cat friends who live outdoors are at the highest risk of infection because they can pass from cat to cat through feces. Keeping your feline friend inside is the only true way to eliminate the risk of infection.


Once roundworm is diagnosed by your local urgent care vet or emergency vet, it's important to follow their instructions carefully. Still, you also want to make sure to take the following precautions:

  • Be sure to clean litter boxes as often as possible

  • Clean all surfaces regularly throughout your cat's treatments.

  • Be careful to keep cat feces away from other animals and children.

  • Practice good hygiene.


The best way for your local urgent care vet or emergency vet to diagnose roundworms is by examining a stool sample from your cat. So if you think an infection is possible, try to bring in a stool sample for your appointment.


As your local urgent care vet and emergency vet, we recommend that your cats have regular health check-ups. Kittens should be checked for roundworm several times a year, while adults should be checked once or twice a year. We provide services by appointment and walk-in, so don't hesitate to call us to schedule an annual check-up or if you require more immediate services.

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