Looking to learn how to treat tapeworms in cats? Finding out your cat has tapeworms may cause concern, or even panic. However, it will reassure you to know that tapeworms are the most common internal parasite for adult cats, and are very easily treated.
Now for some gory details; tapeworms can vary in length, from the minuscule (less than 1 inch) to several feet in length. (Ugh!)
Once the parasite has entered the cats body, it locks itself into the intestine using the hooks on its head, setting up camp there as it feeds on all of the delicious food you’re feeding your cats. Because of this little fastening trick, the only way to fully remove the tapeworm is to destroy the head.
Luckily for cats affected by this pesky parasite, there are plenty of treatments that take care of this. It’s also worth remembering that tapeworms aren’t particularly dangerous. While the tapeworms do take some nutrients from your cat, it’s only in a heavy infestation that your cat would experience any weight loss.
Tapeworms need a total of two hosts to complete their life cycle. The first host is usually in the form of fleas or lice. The tapeworm egg will hatch inside the flea and become larvae. The flea then goes about its usual business, biting and sucking the blood of your cat, none the wiser that it has a tapeworm larvae nesting in its body. Your cat will then groom itself and ingest the flea, and this is what the tapeworm has been waiting for: its chance to enter adulthood.
Inside the stomach of your cat, the flea is digested and its parts used or discarded, and the tapeworm is set free. It then uses its head to hook itself onto the wall of the small intestine where it matures into adulthood and continues to grow and grow, essentially stealing a fraction of your cat’s food.
It takes around two to three weeks for the tapeworm to reach maturity, when this happens, the segments of the tapeworm begin to break away, filled with fertilized eggs that then appear in your cat’s feces as what looks like little grains of rice.
Flea larvae then eat the eggs, and the cycle begins again. If you’re wondering how these eggs become fertilized, it’s because tapeworms are hermaphroditic creatures, containing both ovaries and testes, meaning they can essentially reproduce with themselves. (That applies to the most common tapeworm found in cats; the second most common tapeworm is transmitted into your cat by eating rodents, uncooked meat, or raw freshwater fish.)
Unfortunately (or fortunately), there are few obvious symptoms. I say unfortunate because you want to be able to catch them quickly, and fortunate because they cause very little discomfort to your cat. However there are a few things to look out for:
You may wish to take your cat to the vet to confirm whether tapeworms are the problem, and they will be able to give you a diagnosis and offer you some treatment, usually in the form of a tablet or a solution your apply to your cat’s skin.
However you needn’t pay vet prices as there are plenty of excellent treatments for tapeworms in cats that you can purchase in store or online. Here are some excellent products available to buy on Amazon.
This contains Praziquantel, which is a wormicide. As you’d expect with such a powerful drug, it should have FDA approval and this brand has it. These tablets work, but check what your vet would charge for the same service and see if you’d save money by buying this product.
If you’re worried about pumping your cat full of chemicals or just want a natural alternative, you could try one of the PetAlive Parasite Dr. range. They’re made with natural ingredients (filled with crushed vegetation that animals eat in the wild) to promote health and good digestion. You’ll find your pet has better skin and fur and hopefully it’ll spell the end for parasites, too.
And the best part? No side effects.
Or if your cat is less docile, consider getting a cat pill gun (or ‘piller’) to safely pop the pill down your cat’s throat.
One such piller is available very cheaply.