Intestinal parasites are common in felines, particularly in kittens and older cats. Worms are usually found in outdoor cats, but there is no guarantee that cats that are kept indoors will not develop worms as well. Fortunately, the cost to deworm a cat is relatively low.
Most intestinal parasites are transmitted through feces. Uninfected felines that come into contact with the feces or even the soil around the feces, of an infected feline are at risk of catching worms. This means that dirt carried inside on the bottoms of shoes could infect a healthy house cat. Fleas often carry worms that cats can catch by ingestion. Prey animals, such as rodents or birds, can transmit parasites to healthy cats. Pregnant mother cats can transmit infestations to unborn kittens via the womb, and lactating mother cats can transmit the worms to suckling kittens.
Common Types of Worms in Felines
Roundworms are spaghetti-like parasites common in kittens. Most develop immunity to this parasite with age. The hookworm feeds on tissue and often causes cats to develop anemia. Hookworms, however, can easily be treated with commercial de-wormers. Tapeworms live in the intestinal tract of infected felines. Mature segments break off of these worms and pass through the feces. Tapeworms cannot be effectively removed without flea treatment, as fleas are the main method of tapeworm transmission.
Signs of Worms in Cats
Cats that are infected with intestinal worms appear bloated and potbellied. Diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, constipation, and bloody stool are all indicators of intestinal worms. Occasionally segments of the intestinal worms can be found near the animal’s tail and rear end, or in the animal’s feces. Some infected cats wheeze, develop a cough, and have trouble breathing. Alternatively, some cats may be experiencing a full-blown infestation while exhibiting few or no symptoms. Age, breed, lifestyle, and health all contribute to the severity of a cat’s worm infestation.
There are a number of commercial products available to the average pet owner. The cost of deworming a cat largely depends upon the severity of the infestation. The average cost to deworm a cat using a commercial de-wormer is around $30. Some commercial feline de-wormers are as inexpensive as $10 while others are close to $200. The cost of deworming a cat is much higher for pet owners using veterinarian prescribed worm treatments, which range from $200 to $500 depending on dosage and frequency of treatment.
Preventing Worms in Cats
To avoid having to pay the cost to deworm a cat, it is best to prevent an infestation altogether. For indoor cats, keeping the floors tidy and free from excessive dirt helps prevent the spread of intestinal parasites. Grooming cats regularly will remove soil that may contain worm larva. Pet owners should consider moving outside cats indoors to help prevent worm infestations. Addressing pre-existing flea problems is also necessary in the fight against worm re-infestation.
Left untreated, worms can become a serious threat to a cat’s health. It is a good idea to discuss the cost to deworm a cat with more than 1 veterinarian before deciding on a treatment plan.
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