Cats can become infected with many types of parasites, including roundworms. Also called toxocara cati, these parasitic worms can make your cat very sick. Here are three things cat owners need to know about roundworm infections.
What are the signs of roundworm infections?
Roundworms live in your cat's intestines, so if they're infected with these parasites, you'll notice that your pet is suffering from digestive symptoms. These symptoms may include vomiting or a change in the appearance of their feces. Your cat's stomach may become swollen due to the roundworms, and if they're in pain, they may bite or scratch you.
Are roundworm infections serious?
Roundworm infections can become very serious if they're not treated. In large numbers, roundworms can actually form an intestinal blockage, and this will prevent food from moving through your cat's body normally; this situation can be fatal. Infected kittens are more susceptible to serious complications than adult cats are, but no matter how old your cat is, they need veterinary attention.
How do cats get roundworm infections?
Toxocara cati live in the intestines of infected cats, and they produce eggs which are released in the cats' feces. These eggs can live for years in the environment, and when another animal ingests the infected feces, they will become infected as well.
Mice can also be carriers of the roundworms, so if your cat likes to catch and eat mice, they could be infected in this manner. It's also possible for kittens to contract roundworms through their mother's milk. With so many possible transmission methods, it's no wonder that roundworm infections are estimated to affect between 25% and 75% of cats.
How are roundworm infections treated?
Your vet will test your cat's feces to see if roundworm eggs are present. If eggs are found, your vet will prescribe an antiparasitic drug—known as a dewormer—for your cat. These drugs come in many forms, including tablets and liquids, and will typically take between two and three works to kill the worms. Once your vet confirms that your cat has been cured, be sure to sanitize your cat's litter box with bleach to prevent a re-infestation.
It's important to remember that people can also become infected with roundworms. After caring for your sick cat or changing their litter, make sure to wash your hands. If any of the eggs are on your fingers, you could inadvertently ingest them and get sick as well.
If you think your pet cat has a roundworm infection, take them to a vet, like those at Pitts Veterinary Hospital PC.