Tapeworms in Cats

Dr. Karie Johnson, DVM
By Dr. Karie Johnson, DVM
Updated: 5/20/20242-4 minutes
cat being treated for worms

Tapeworms are parasites that commonly settle in a cat’s intestines. They reproduce by attaching themselves to the gut and breaking into a series of segments containing eggs, which are then passed out with the feces. 

While this is unpleasant, it is also easily treatable, especially if you catch the spread of tapeworms in cats in its early stages. 

How Do Cats Get Tapeworms? 

While tapeworms in cats are a common problem, not many owners know how cats get them. Tapeworms are often contracted when a cat accidentally eats tapeworm larvae. Many types of tapeworm larvae are found in fleas begins to grow inside your cat. 

This is not, however, the only way your furry friend can contract tapeworms. Some cats eat the feces of infected cats, which can pass on the parasite. It is also possible for mothers to pass on tapeworms to their kittens. 

What Do Tapeworms Look Like in Cats? 

Tapeworms are long, flat worms that can vary in length. They have a segmented body and a head, which has suckers and hooks to help them attach to the intestines. You’re unlikely to see a tapeworm in this form, though. Once tapeworms begin to grow, segments of their body separate themselves from the main body of the worm. These segments can often be found under your cat’s tail and look like small grains of rice. You may also see them in your cat’s feces. 

Tapeworm Symptoms in Cats 

There are a number of symptoms to watch out for when it comes to tapeworms in cats. The first is to check your cat’s feces. If they have small white ‘grains’ in them, it’s likely your cat has tapeworms. These small pieces will be cream in color and around the size of a grain of rice. 

If your cat is regularly licking their anus, it could mean they have tapeworms. Similarly, biting or scratching at this area may be a sign. Cats also tend to scoot their bottoms across the floor in order to scratch the area; if you see your cat doing this, they may have contracted the parasite. 

Tapeworms can also cause cats to lose weight. This weight loss may occur even though your cat’s appetite has increased. The final sign to look for is the condition of your cat’s coat. If your cat has a tapeworm, their coat could become a lot more dull or shabby than usual. 

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your cat to see your vet as soon as possible. If noticed early, tapeworms are easy to treat and get rid of. 

Cat Tapeworm Treatment 

Treating your cat for tapeworms is a fairly simple and easy process. First, you must take them to your vet for a diagnosis. If your cat is diagnosed with tapeworms, your vet will provide the appropriate medication.  

Cat tapeworm medicine is simple and extremely effective, especially if you catch the parasite in its early stages. 

How to Prevent Tapeworm in Cats 

From a young age, kittens can receive preventative tapeworm treatment. Always consult a vet first to ensure preventative treatment is right for them. 

Ingesting fleas is one of the main causes of tapeworms in cats. Flea spot treatments are a great way to prevent fleas from living on your cat. Flea collars and oral flea medication are also some of the methods you could use to get rid of fleas your cat. 

For more expert tips on keeping your cat healthy, explore our other cat health articles. 

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