How to Get Rid of Tapeworms in Cats & How Cats Get Them

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Tapeworms are a common parasite in mammals, usually found in the small intestine.

They’re one of the few parasites pet owners can see with the naked eye. Fortunately, it’s easy to get rid of tapeworms in cats with deworming medications from a veterinarian.

What are Tapeworms in Cats?

Tapeworms in cats are parasites that settle in the small intestine. They reproduce by attaching themselves to the gut and breaking into a series of segments.

These segments contain eggs, which are then passed out with the feces.

Tapeworms are long, flat worms of various lengths. They have a segmented body and a head with suckers and hooks, which help them attach to the small intestine.

You probably won’t see a tapeworm like that, however. Once they start growing, segments of their body separate from the rest. These segments resemble grains of rice. You may see them under your cat’s tail or in her feces.

How Do Cats Get Tapeworms?

Most cats get tapeworms from fleas. Many types of tapeworm larvae are found in fleas.

If the cat ingests the flea, the tapeworm larvae begins to grow inside the intestines.

Cats can also get tapeworms if they eat feces infested with them. It’s also possible for mothers to pass tapeworms to their kittens.

Can Humans Get Tapeworms from Cats?

The most common species of tapeworms is not transmissible to humans. There are certain species that can be transmitted to humans, particularly children.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment is the best way to prevent humans getting tapeworms from cats.

How Can You Tell if a Cat Has Tapeworms?

There are several indicators a cat has tapeworms:

  • Licking the anus
  • Biting or scratching at the anus
  • Dragging hind legs across the floor in an attempt to scratch the area
  • Rice-like segments of tapeworms in cat’s feces
  • Weight loss, even with increased appetite
  • Dull or shabby coat

If you notice one or more of the above symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.

What is the Treatment for Tapeworms in Cats?

Once your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with tapeworms, they will prescribe either an injection or oral medication.

After administering the deworming medication, the worms dissolve in the intestines. Because they dissolve, they aren’t usually visible in the cat’s feces.

As with any medication your veterinarian prescribes, give your cat the full course of deworming medication to ensure the tapeworms are completely eradicated.

Since tapeworms are often caused by fleas, you’ll also want to wash pet bedding, clean carpets and any other areas where your cat spends time to eliminate the pest.

Are There Home Remedies for Tapeworms in Cats?

There are no home remedies for tapeworms in cats. Prevention, however, is the best course of action.

Whether your cat has had tapeworms or you want to avoid your cat getting them, the best way to prevent tapeworms in cats is by giving your cat flea and tick medicine.

Your veterinarian can recommend a flea and tick prevention medication to help keep your cat healthy and tapeworm free.

For more information on cat health and care from our experts, visit our Pet Expertise page.


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