Why it is important to check your pets for parasites

Hi everyone,

While most of us will remember and think about the common problem of fleas when it comes to parasites many of us forget that there are far worse and far less visible parasites that could infest your cats, other pets and in some cases even us!

As part of our commitment to providing you with tips and advice around the wellbeing of your cats (and other pets) we will be including many more posts around how to keep parasites at bay. If you’ve missed our previous post on fleas don’t forget that you can find this here.

Today we are going to focus on running through some of the parasites that our cats are susceptible to!

  1. Roundworm

White worms with cylindrical bodies, roundworms live in the small intestine of cats and feed on the contents of the gut. Cats can become infected from their mother’s milk or by ingesting infected eggs. Cats are particularly susceptible to this parasite due to their primal need to hunt, as rodents and birds also act as hosts. Symptoms of roundworm include diarrhoea, stunted growth, a deteriorating coat and a pot belly. Roundworm is also a potential risk to people if they swallow the eggs.

  1. Tapeworm

Tapeworms are long and flat, and their bodies are divided into segments. An adult tapeworm lives in the small intestine of a cat, and it releases its eggs through detached segments of its body. Cats can get a tapeworm after hunting for example by eating infected mice. However, cats can also easily contract tapeworm when they ingest fleas during the grooming process. The symptoms to look out for include diarrhoea and vomiting, and some cats will experience irritation around the anus.

  1. Hookworm

Hookworms can grow up to 16mm in length, and they live in the gut of cats. However, infections in cats are extremely rare in the UK. Hookworm can be contracted through the ingestion of larvae, which can be found in the faeces of cats. Among the symptoms of a hookworm infection are diarrhoea, anaemia and lethargy.

  1. Heartworm

Heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of cats, and they are characterised by their white, thread-like appearance. Although heartworms are not present in the UK or Ireland, they can be picked up during travel abroad. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquito bites, and the symptoms include breathing difficulties, heart failure, high blood pressure and lethargy. In some rare cases a heartworm infection can lead to the death of a cat.

ginger cat pinterest
Make sure you use preventive measures to keep us safe
  1. Fleas

Fleas are wingless insects that grow to about one eighth of an inch in length. They have very large back legs that allow them to jump huge distances relative to their body size. Fleas feed on the blood of cats, and they can be picked up from an infested environment. Fleas can cause allergic reactions and transmit bacteria and viruses.

  1. Ticks

Ticks are small insect-like creatures – but with eight legs rather than six. Generally found in rural areas, ticks lie in wait of animals in deep vegetation. Ticks can pierce the skin of a cat and feed on blood, which can cause reactions around the site of attachment. In kittens, ticks have the potential to cause anaemia and death from blood loss. But perhaps the most important threat related to tick bites is the spread of diseases such as lyme disease.

  1. Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny creatures with eight legs, and they thrive on the surface of the skin in the outer ear canal. Ear mites are transferred between cats through direct contact, and they can cause significant irritation if not treated.

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Me having parasites? No WAY – My owner took me to the vet just last week for my worming treatment!
  1. Demodex

This mite is rare but can affect cats. Some cats will show no signs of skin disease when infected with the demodex mite, but if a cat becomes unwell they can sometimes experience a particularly large infestation which can lead to hair loss and severely inflamed patches of skin.

  1. Notoedres Mange Mite

The notoedres mange mite is rare but highly contagious, and it has the potential to spread to humans. An infection is sometimes referred to as ‘mange’ or scabies. Spread through direct contact, these mites can cause inflammation of the skin, redness and severe itchiness. It may cause wrinkling or scaling of your cat’s skin. If left untreated, the notoedres mange mite can cause hair loss, skin disease and a range of bacterial infections.

If you spot any of the symptoms listed it is important that you get your cat checked out by a vet.

We also found this funny but very important informational video from Merial below on the topic of parasites! While it’s focussed on a puppy it certainly reminds us of the importance of having not just our dogs but cats checked out by a vet as well! Wouldn’t want those pesky parasites to have a Parasite Party inside them… ;(

The video is courtesy of Merial and their information website Parasite Party (both cats and dogs tips). For those of you with dogs in their household on top of your cats they have additional information on the parasites that we covered in today’s post focussed on how they impact your puppy!

Lastly please find some useful tips from our friends at Castle Vets who are in charge of our new monthly cat health section on recommended treatments for worming below:

  • Use a veterinary recommended wormer: You should worm your pet at least 4 times a year, but more frequently if your pet hunts, likes to eat dead animals, or likes to eat poo. Be very careful about using ‘natural/herbal worming products’ as these products work by removing the worms from the animal’s digestive system but not necessarily killing the worms, meaning any eggs that are passed are still viable and will infect the next host.  (It is worth noting that commonly named ‘natural’ worming products such as Oregon Grape, Black Walnut, Wormwood, Garlic and Onions can all be highly toxic to pets if the dosage is miscalculated!)
  • Scoop the poop:Cat litter trays and outside toileting areas should be scooped out daily and properly cleaned at least once a week.
  • Good personal hygiene and making sure children wash their hands: Especially after stroking pets and playing outside.  Kissing your cat or letting him or her lick you will put you more at risk, especially if you are immunocompromised.
  • Speak to your veterinary nurse: He or she can advise you on the safest and most effective parasite treatments for your cat as well as how often you need to give them.
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A worm free cat is a happy cat!

We hope you enjoyed this post and don’t forget you can sign-up to our Newsletter here.

Thanks,

Marc

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We regularly write about all things relating to cats on our Blog Katzenworld!

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39 thoughts on “Why it is important to check your pets for parasites

  1. Thanks Marc-André… fortunately our beloved do not go outside (they are indoor cats) but if I get the special suit for the walk with a leash… then I shall bevery careful! :-)c

  2. Fleas can also affect humans, and can live in your hair, but are easily gotten rid of by washing your hair because fleas can’t stick to hair or fur like lice can. Can cause the same bacterial infections too, especially if your cat sleeps in your bed and infests the sheets. Just thought I’d add that tiny point to the already awesome list of important things to check for.

  3. I fully agree with this list and your nice descriptions – – and also agree with the fact that humans can get these – whew – and the sad thing is that many 1st world countries do not think they can have a parasite problem in the human GI – but they can and often do – some say 1 out of 2 usually have an issue (per dr. amin from AZ). – and while third world countries are deworming humans – others need to but seem too blind to the need.
    anyhow, glad you suggest the 4 x a year for the cats – very important if you love your pet and want them around….
    peace

  4. Your posts always give me the answers for the questions I’ve been afraid to ask! Bless. It’s time to worm Jamima! And here I thought I’d have to prepare for the end………

    1. I try :). It’s not always easy and sometimes some topics you think “will people really want to hear this?” But it’s important we make space in the cute and funny schedule for the serious every now and then 😉

  5. This is an excellent and urgent post with excellent advice. Please, please follow Marc’s advise, or fail to do so at YOUR cat’s peril. He covered this very well and comprehensively. I will also post here the several things I just ADDED to what Marc has instructed you to do. There are many products and many ways of using them and not all products are needed for all cats. That is why where you live is so very important. Always have a trusted veterinarian who has trusted staff and nurses. Then please follow their advice, where ever you may live.

    Outdoor cats are at grave risk and must be on a very strict regimen. Most CITY cats, are well protected with just a good, safe product. I hope I do not bore you to tears with the next few posts that I posted in Cat Lover Group. Marc’s blog is EVERYWHERE and it is HIGHLY RESPECTED and relevant. This is the sole reason why I will be redundant. Most people who READ HIS BLOG are NOT members of LinkedIn or Cat Lover Group. So sorry if this seems over the top. I just CARE about your CATS!!

  6. From Cat Lover Group: Even if your cat has NEVER set foot outside as ALL city cats (at least in the USA) are legally required to be indoor cats only. If the shelter or rescue group thinks for one moment you are going to take the cat outside, even on a harness and a leash, they will NOT adopt out the cat to you. This does not happen in rural areas and that is why cats are happy to run free there.

    Back to the POINT: The cat lives in a house or flat or apartment, but you go outside. Maybe you live in the city and maybe you never take hikes. Maybe you even remove your shoes when you walk back into your living space. The point is, as UNLIKELY as it seems, you CAN bring in fleas and ticks, in your hair, clothes or shoes. They will attack the cats. As loving cat owners, please do use product that take care of FLEAS, TICKS, HEARTWORMS and anything else. Here, the most popular and all-inclusive products are: REVOLUTION or Advantage or Advantage Plus.

  7. Continued: These products have a strong CHEMICAL smell which really makes people NOT want to use them. I ceased using them on very senior and geriatric cats. But if you apply them properly to the back of the neck between the shoulder blades, it is physically impossible for the cat to lick those toxic chemical. It does dry fast and the cat will be ticked off. Kit Kat BITES harder to let me know she is ANGRY. But she is young, healthy and protected and I do NOT remove my shoes most of the time. I have old carpet which needs replacing. There are homeopathic products: Check with your Veterinarian about the efficacy of those. Some work; most do not.

    Finally, throw the “FLEA COLLARS” in the trash. They DO NOT WORK at all and you are throwing away your good money on them. They are not cheap and they are useless. And, if your cat is cooperative and will not fight you or it loves water, Flea Baths every few weeks are another means, but get a product recommended by your veterinarian. BTW: All exams include an inspection of your cats EARS for ear mites and many cats DO have them…shocking, but true.

  8. More from Cat Lover Group: Regarding FLEA BATHS: DO not take your cat to a groomer; they really are used to handling dogs and so is all their equipment. Allow your trusted and respected Veterinarian and their well-trained technicians to bathe your cat and use a more gentle product for fleas. Flea baths will NOT protect your cat from any other parasite like worms or tick.

    If you see a tick, watch a video on how to REMOVE THE TICK: it is an art and they are dangerous and drinking your cat’s blood (they are dog & cat “vampires”, so to speak. Always check with YOUR trusted DVM or even licensed Veterinary Technicians, which go by different names in different states and countries. Where you live is SO VERY IMPORTANT to the products you choose. I do use REVOLUTION for cats and I buy the 6 pack for companies in Australia. When you are on your fifth month, reorder. The products are NOT CHEAP, but they do protect your cat. And if you are ordering from another country, use a trusted country; order well in advance.

  9. Marc has posted a very URGENT ISSUE HERE: Do not ignore his advice. Again, if the cat is old or sick, please check with your veterinarian before using any product. In the USA, these products require prescriptions, as they are strong. This is also another reason why once I know the product is highly effective, I order it from Australia or New Zealand. Do not order from places like India, China or third world countries. You are likely buying FAKE PRODUCTS. No offense to our members in these countries. They love their pets as much as anyone, so I am not a hater of ANY country.

    I just want a SAFE and trusted product that does the job for my cats. All of us want the same thing. I have no intention of offending anyone, but some countries do not have REGULATIONS on their products and your cat may get very ill. I only wish your cat to be safe and comfortable. I wish to insult NO ONE.

  10. LAST COMMENT! Please, please follow Marc’s advise, or fail to do so at YOUR cat’s peril. He covered this very well and comprehensively. I will also post here the several things I just ADDED to what Marc has instructed you to do. There are many products and many ways of using them and not all products are needed for all cats. That is why where you live is so very important. Always have a trusted veterinarian who has trusted staff and nurses. Then please follow their advice, where ever you may live.

    Outdoor cats are at grave risk and must be on a very strict regimen. Most CITY cats, are well protected with just a good, safe product. I hope I do not bore you to tears with the next few posts that I posted in Cat Lover Group. Marc’s blog is EVERYWHERE and it is HIGHLY RESPECTED and relevant. This is the sole reason why I will be redundant. Most people who READ HIS BLOG are NOT members of LinkedIn or Cat Lover Group. Thanks for your time and attention. Wishing all your cats WELL!

  11. Ah! There is nothing like seeing your recently adopted lost stray cat huck up a live roundworm.
    Second the motion that a good vet is important. The drug companies really only care about selling product and I knew a woman who killed her cat with a “flea spray” that she bought over the counter. Do not ask for heartbreak. Talk to the vet about your cat’s health and needs and a good product before you approach this parasite issue.

    1. Yeah it’s best to go to the vet and make sure you get the right product. Self prescribing is also a huge problem for us humans and why many medicines that are freely available over the counter in the US / UK are not available like that in Germany. When I moved from there to the UK I was very surprised for example that you can just buy painkillers =o

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