Tapeworms: How to help keep your cat safe
Tapeworms are one of the most common parasites that affect cats. Fortunately, tapeworms are relatively easy to detect, prevent and treat.
How do I know it’s a tapeworm?
There are two types of tapeworms, but both are white, ridged and resemble cooked fettuccine noodles. They’ll be present in your cat’s feces or vomit, and you may also notice their eggs around your cat’s anus—these will appear small and grainy. Another sign of tapeworm in your cat is rapid weight loss, which is often accompanied by a distended belly.
How did my cat get it?
Your cat will develop tapeworms by ingesting their eggs, which happens in one of two ways: Fleas can deposit tapeworm-infected eggs on your cat and your cat could swallow them while grooming. Or your cat can eat prey that is infected—like a mole or mouse—and then develop the parasite, too.
What do I do to treat it?
If you suspect your cat has tapeworms, make an appointment with your vet. They’ll do a stool test to confirm the presence of tapeworm and then prescribe an oral deworming pill or paste. You'll need to repeat the dose at home about twice over the next month—this will help to completely rid your cat of the tapeworms and their larvae. Then make a follow-up vet appointment to have your cat’s stool tested again.
How can I help prevent tapeworm?
Preventing fleas is a great way to help prevent tapeworms. Flea prevention medications are available in a variety of forms—discuss the options with your vet if you are unsure which to use. Keeping your cat indoors—and thereby limiting his or her access to prey—is another great method of prevention.