Tapeworms in Felines
Tapeworm Dilylidium Caninum - photo by Sean94110
Cat fleas transmit some tapeworms in felines. Cat fleas are unpleasant in a number of ways and are more than simply irritating to our cat. Cat fleas feature in these posts:
Cat Scratch Fever
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Hair Loss in Cats
Cat Parasite Pictures
Cat Health Problems...........................there are more posts, these are just examples.
The technical name for tapeworm is "Cestodes". Tapeworms in felines is the most common parasite in adult cats, living in the small intestine. The small intestine is between the stomach and the large intestine and where most food digestion takes place.
This picture shows the head (scolex - organ of attachment) of a tapeworm under a microscope - photo by Wearn
Tapeworms in felines clamp onto the wall of the small intestine using suckers and hooks (see above). The worm takes nutrients from the food in the gut and do not draw blood from the host as is the case with Hookworms. A tapeworm is made up of segments. The segments contain eggs.
The tapeworm known as Diphylidium caninum is transmitted via fleas (or lice). Fleas may have immature tapeworms in them. A cat may eat a flea inadvertently. Once inside the cat, the tapeworm segments are passed in feces and they look like rice when dried. They may stick to the fur at the rear end of the cat indicating an infestation.
Once out of the cat in feces the dried segment breaks open releasing the eggs, which are eaten by lice or flea larva where they reside in the flea's intestines. The cat eats the flea and voila the cycle starts again.
Tapeworms in felines can be from less than an inch to several feet long. The symptoms in the cat are abdominal discomfort. The cat may vomit and may be poisoned by toxins from the worm causing convulsions in the cat. The cat may scoot (see feline scooting) to remove the segments from the bottom.
The tapeworm Taenia taeniaformis is transmitted by eating uncooked meat or freshwater fish (see cats fish). Two other rarer types of tapeworms can be transmitted to a cat by eating freshwater fish; these are Dibothriocephalus latus and Spirometra mansanoides.
Exceptionally feline tapeworms can transmit to humans if for example a person ate a flea inadvertently.
The treatment is a drug called Droncit. There are others - the vet will prescribe of course. The head (scolex) of tapeworms in felines must be destroyed otherwise the worm will regenerate. It goes without saying that the life cycle of the tapeworm Diphylidium caninum must be broken through effective flea control. Roaming domestic cats are more likely to pick up Taenia taeniaformis so indoor living, controlled outdoor living (leash) or cat enclosures are the answer.
Tapeworms in Felines to Cat health problems
Tapeworms in Felines - Sources:
- Cat Owners Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Carlson and Giffin