The type of parasitic roundworms that infect cats are long, white and thin. They look like spaghetti, and they take up residence in your cat's digestive tract, where they leech nutrients from your cat's diet. Roundworms can wreak havoc on your cat's health if not caught and treated early, so it's important to be on the lookout for symptoms of these parasites – and to act accordingly if you suspect your cat is affected.
Symptoms of Roundworms
Cats with roundworms tend to show signs of abdominal discomfort. They may extra spend time licking their bellies, and they may get angry if you try to touch their bellies. Their abdomens may appear distended or swollen. Many cats vomit or develop diarrhea, but others experience constipation. You may notice your cat straining to defecate or attempting to defecate, yet failing.
Many pet owners don't realize their cats have roundworms until they see the actual worms in the feces or vomit. However, cats don't always vomit or defecate worms, so if your cat is showing other symptoms but there are no worms in his stool, you should not assume this means he is not infected.
Treating a Roundworm Infection
If you have seen worms in your cats stool – and they are long and spaghetti-like – then you know for sure that your cat has roundworms and can go about treating the issue yourself. Deworming medications to treat roundworm infestations are sold over-the-counter in pet stores. Look for one with the active ingredient "piperazine." Wormers with other ingredients are intended for other types of worms, such as tapeworms, and may not work for roundworms. Administer the wormer according to the instructions on the package. Usually, you'll have to give your cat two doses over the span of a few weeks.
If you have not actually seen worms in your cat's feces or stool, then it's best to take him to the vet to ensure worms, rather than some other illness, are to blame for his symptoms. Your vet will take a fecal sample and test it for roundworm eggs. If your cat's test comes back positive, your vet will administer a wormer and may give you a second dose to give your cat a few weeks later. If the test is negative, your vet will further examine your cat to figure out the real cause of his discomfort.
Most cats recover just fine once they're treated with dewormer. However, failing to treat the problem will lead to lethargy, weight loss, and additional discomfort – so make sure you treat your cat promptly if roundworms are suspected. To learn more, contact a company like North Lexington Veterinary Clinic.