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How to treat tapeworms in cats? Learn with this pet parent guide!

grey cat looking happy advice
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Everyone hates worms! Unfortunately, they are not uncommon in household pets like cats. In this pet parent guide, you will learn about tapeworms in cats!

By Daniel Mar

Generally, most cats are infected by tapeworm at some time in their lives. According to vets, it is one of the most common internal parasites suffered by pets. Nevertheless, tapeworms in cats are easily treatable with medication. Plus, you can prevent tapeworm by carrying out several steps later discussed. For now, let’s start with the basics!

What are tapeworms in cats

A tapeworm is an intestinal parasite that can infect both cats and dogs. The tapeworm looks like its name suggests: a long, thin, flat strand that resembles a tape. It contains male and female reproductive parts, so the tapeworm can multiply on its own. Once it infects a host, it will lay its eggs in the host’s intestines. However, vets consider tapeworms more troublesome than dangerous. They simply rob nutrients from your cat, and at worst, they can cause loss of weight.

How can cats get tapeworms?

Usually, tapeworms are transmitted by flea larvae that have consumed its eggs. After a cat ingests a flea during grooming, the tapeworm will hatch as the flea breaks down in the stomach. Tapeworms hook onto a cat's small intestines. There, they mature in two to three weeks, then release their eggs. If your cat has a tapeworm, you will see rice-like grains in the fur around your cat's anus and/or in his litter box. Those tiny grains are the tapeworm's eggs. Fleas will ingest these eggs then the cycle will restart.

How can you tell if your cat has tapeworms?

©Animals Lovers, YouTube

Sometimes, cats will vomit pieces of worm. When this happens, you can see clearly the living worms! Other signs that indicate tapeworms in cats include:

  • Weight loss
  • Proglottids
  • Rice-sized, egg-filled tapeworm segments in your cat's fur
  • Cat "scooting" across the floor
  • Irritation in the anus

Treating tapeworms in cats

If you are wondering how long for tapeworm to die after treatment, then you need to ask your vet how aggressive is the treatment. Usually, treatment for tapeworms in cats is pretty easy and effective. If your cat is infested, your vet will give you a dewormer. Typically, they are oral medications, but you can find them in injection form as well. This deworming medication causes the tapeworm to completely dissolve in the intestines. Most cats don’t display any adverse side effects, but some might experience vomiting or diarrhoea.

Once you have treated the present infestation, your vet will prescribe a long-term treatment for tapeworms in cats that will continue to get rid of any parasites inside your cat and it will prevent any future re-infestation. By doing so, you are helping to reduce your cat's risk of getting tapeworms. Even though tapeworms are not contagious, they are still transmittable from animal to animal (including humans).

Preventing tapeworms in cats

Since tapeworms need fleas to infect hosts, a regular flea-prevention regimen might just be the best weapon against a tapeworm infestation. But always remember, whenever fleas are present, the chances of a parasite contagion are elevated. Just go to a local pet store and get a flea treatment product. Ask your vet whether you should treat your entire home and yard for fleas or just the cat.

Nevertheless, you have to keep the cat's living area clean. Also, you must dispose of soiled litter promptly and safely! Don’t forget to inspect your cat’s bedding for fleas. Additionally, try to prevent your cat from going outdoors. Sometimes cats like to hunt but this is one of the ways to come in contact with tapeworms.  Lastly, you should have your vet check your cat's stool annually for tapeworms.

Final thoughts!

Imagine if there are worms living inside your beloved pet! This can make even the most iron-stomached pet parent hysterical! Luckily, as you have just read, tapeworms in cats are very easy to treat and even easier to prevent! Plus, even if your cat gets tapeworms, these are not exactly ‘harmful’. Either way, just keep a close eye on him. At the slightest change of behaviour, go to the vet! If your cat gets tapeworms constantly, you need to keep a dewormer close-by. And you might need to consider a complete house ‘treatment’ carried out by a professional.