7 Common Cat Parasites
Being a cat owner brings a lot of joy and comfort to your life as cats are faithful and loyal companions. Cats tend to be one of the easier pets to care for as they are often self-sufficient and independent. However, like any house pet they need consistent care to keep them healthy and thriving. One of the most important things you can do for your cat is provide preventative care from common cat parasites.
Did you know that a majority of cats are born with parasites in their intestines? Cat parasites are often divided into two categories: internal and external parasites. External parasites are often easier to diagnose, whereas internal parasites will likely require a sample collection. Being aware of the common cat parasites is an important part of being a pet owner.
Common Cat Parasite #1: Fleas
Fleas are often listed as the most common external cat parasite due to how quickly this jumping parasite spreads and how easily they can be passed from one animal to another. The unfortunate truth about fleas on your cat is that even if you only found a few, there are likely to be thousands more hiding in your home in carpets and bedding.
Experts suggest treating your cat immediately once you find even a single flea, as well as treating your home where fleas may be living. Fleas like to live on surfaces such as carpet and cloth furniture, so unfortunately you may have to treat a large part of your home depending on how badly your cat is infected.
Common Cat Parasite #2: Tapeworms
Tapeworms are never fun to deal with as a pet owner, but the good news is there is treatment available. Tapeworms are one of the most common internal parasites in cats. When fleas are present, tapeworms will often follow. This is because tapeworms are typically caused by a cat eating a flea. Pet owners often notice tapeworms in a cat’s stool and sometimes when they vomit. While there are over the counter options, the best treatment for tapeworms typically involves a prescription medication from your vet.
Common Cat Parasite #3: Ticks
If you live in a wooded area, you are likely familiar with looking for ticks on both yourself and your pets. Ticks can be tricky to find on your cat, especially if they have thick fur. As soon as you find a tick, it is important to remove it immediately to prevent things like lyme disease. Remember that when removing a tick, you need to remove the entire body. To prevent ticks in the future, it is important to give your cat preventative parasite medicine that deters ticks from biting cats.
Common Cat Parasite #4: Heartworms
Heartworms are one of the more serious parasites in pets. This is why it is imperative that you give your cat a monthly heartworm preventative medication to protect them from heartworms.
Many pet owners own more than one type of animal and it is common for heartworms to occur from your cat becoming infected from a dog in the home.
Common Cat Parasite #5: Roundworms
Roundworms are one of the most common cat parasites and have been recorded as impacting up to 50 percent of cats at some point in their life. Roundworms are one of the larger parasites and can measure between two to three inches long.
One of the reasons roundworms are so prevalent in cats is because they can be dormant for years and then cause a cat to become reinfected. Many kittens get roundworms from their mother when they are born. Adult cats can become infected from eating infected stool or even a mouse that has roundworms.
Common Cat Parasite #6: Hookworms
Hookworms are also an internal parasite and can cause things like anemia if left untreated. Hookworms are extremely small, measuring less than a centimeter long with an extremely thin diameter making it hard to see them without a microscope.
While hookworms tend to be more common in dogs than cats, feline hookworms can cause damage if left untreated. If you notice any blood in your cat’s stool or if they are losing weight quickly, those are typical symptoms of hookworm that warrant a visit to your veterinarian.
Common Cat Parasite #7: Giardia
Giardia is another intestinal parasite that can cause diarrhea and weight loss. Cats can become infected with giardia from drinking contaminated water or being around other cats that are infected. Giardia is often spread in large groups of cats or kittens in unsanitary conditions.
This parasite can cause cysts both internally and externally on a cat which can continue to spread the disease. If a cat is diagnosed with giardia they need to be separated from other animals immediately as it is a highly contagious parasite.
How to Care for Your Cat with Parasites
Diagnosing the correct parasite your cat is infected with is an important part of their treatment plan. Checking for internal parasites in your cat typically requires a stool sample. Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions for how to collect the sample. Once the correct parasite is diagnosed, treatment should begin immediately.
Make sure to follow the exact instructions given by your veterinarian to ensure that the treatment is successful during the first round. Many veterinarians recommend checking for parasites a few times after treatment has finished to ensure that the medication worked properly.
Dealing with parasites can be a pain, for both you and your cat. Luckily, for many of these parasites there are preventative treatments to help protect your cat. Many veterinarians provide preventative parasite medicines that combat fleas, ticks and heartworms all in one. Kittens especially need preventative care as they are more prone to parasites early on in life.
Parasites can cause mild to severe discomfort depending on the location and intensity of the parasite. Always report any unusual symptoms to your veterinarian to make sure your cat stays as healthy as possible.
If you are looking for cat parasite prevention in Yavapai County, contact Chino Valley Animal Hospital. Our veterinarians are experts at parasite prevention and care and can help. Call us today at (928) 636-4382, or Request an Appointment Online today!