Tapeworm Infections in Cats

Tapeworms are flat, segmented intestinal parasites that are not particularly harmful but are commonly diagnosed in cats. Interestingly, a cat cannot get tapeworms unless it has ingested a flea or flea larva, as fleas are the intermediate hosts for tapeworm. Even if you haven’t noticed fleas on your cat or in your home, it’s still possible for your cat to ingest one and develop a tapeworm infection. 

How can you tell if your cat has a tapeworm infection?

The biggest indicator that your cat has tapeworms is the presence of tapeworm segments in feces or vomit. While tapeworms rarely cause debilitation or weight loss, you may notice your cat scooting its behind on the ground due to irritation from tapeworm around its anus. 

Diagnosing tapeworm infections

Tapeworms are not readily diagnosed with routine fecal exams, so it’s important to notify your vet if you believe tapeworm segments are present in your cat’s stool. 

Treating tapeworm infections

While there are a variety of products available to treat tapeworms in cats, not all are equally effective. The best course of action is to consult your veterinarian about the type of deworming treatment that best suits your cat and its diagnosis. Most treatment medications come in the form of oral tablet or injection. 

Preventing tapeworm infections

Because a cat cannot get tapeworms without first ingesting a flea or flea larva, the best form of prevention is consistent flea control. Putting your cat on a regular flea prevention medication is the most effective way of preventing tapeworm infections. Depending on the flea product you use and the presence of other pets in your home, you may also need to treat your home and yard for fleas. However before making any prevention decisions, be sure to consult your veterinarian. 

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