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7 Key Facts About Cat Roundworm

Cat roundworm infestation, although quite common, is usually less severe than other worms in cats. If your cat has it, however, he or she needs to be treated. Your vet will test your kitten at the initial check ups, and will typically treat kittens even when they test negative. If you adopt a cat from a shelter, ask about what their deworming policy is, and if you have to return for additional treatment. After that, testing will be done once per year at your cat's annual check up.

Here are 7 key points concerning cat roundworm.

1. How your cat gets it - Roundworm eggs begin infiltrating your cat's body by getting into the intestinal tract orally. This can be from eating infected prey, or by coming in contact with eggs in the soil. This makes outdoor cats more susceptible, especially those that hunt. Kittens may contract the worm from their infected mothers. Dormant worms reactivate during pregnancy and sometimes make their way into the mammary glands.

2. Roundworm is common - Almost all kittens have roundworm, and even if they test negative, are usually treated for it. Although most cases are not severe, roundworm is dangerous in kittens if left untreated and can cause death.

3. What it is - The Cornell Feline Health Center tells us that cat roundworm (Toxascaris leonina and Toxocara cati) are the most common of the feline intestinal parasites. The estimated infection rates are 25% to as high as 75% (higher in kittens).

4. When you see them - Adult roundworms described as having thin, tubelike bodies that resemble strands of spaghetti. I know that's not very appealing, but you usually won't see them unless your cat vomits them up, which is also not very appealing. They are white-ish or cream in color.

5. Where they go once inside - Unlike hookworms and some others, roundworms are not tissue feeders. They do not attach themselves to the inside intestinal wall, but freely swim in the gut of the cat. The lifecycle is different for Toxascaris and Toxocara. T. leonina go straight to the intestines and take two to three months to mature. T. cati, on the other hand, migrate through tissue wall making their way to the throat via the lungs and back into the intestines.

6. What happens now - Female roundworms lay eggs inside your cat's gut, and your cat passes them in the feces. It may take up to several weeks or a month for them to become infective. Once they develop into the infective larva stage, they can remain infective for years.

7. Preventing infection - Deworming females prior to pregnancy would make sense, except that medications do not affect dormant worms that reactivate during pregnancy, just in time to infect the kittens. Containing the worm population requires containing your cat and keeping him or her indoors, and control of the pest population. Cats at highest risk are those that roam and hunt.

Roundworm infections are relatively benign as compared to other intestinal parasites that your cat might encounter. In fact, a cat can appear perfectly healthy and still have a mild case of roundworm.

You should be aware, however, that there can be life-threatening cases of cat roundworm. This can occur if the worm population becomes large enough to cause blockage of the intestinal tract. Kittens are particularly at risk, with their small size and developing immune systems, and may be in serious danger if left untreated. Similarly, older cats, and adult cats with compromised immune systems or other debilitating diseases will be at risk as well.

You should have a talk about roundworm with your veterinarian if you have an at risk kitten or older cat at home.

Kurt Schmitt, an experienced cat owner, writes about cat roundworm and other feline health issues. Visit the web site for cat lovers for more details on this article.


city said...

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