What You Need To Know About Parasites In Cats

Your go-to guide for cat parasites.

parasites in cats

The last thing you want is for your cat to wind up with a parasite.

The idea of your BFF getting sick because there’s another organism living in his heart, in his intestines, in his hair or on his skin feels invasive and gross.

And there are a whole bunch of parasites that could affect your cat, each causing their own issues and needing different treatments. Luckily, you can keep your cat protected with some preventative measures.

Consider this your go-to guide for parasites in cats.

Types of parasites in cats

There are a couple different types of parasites that can infect your cat. These include:

  • Heartworms
  • Intestinal parasites
  • External parasites

Heartworm in cats

Heartworms are parasites that infect your cat’s heart, as the name suggests.

These worms live in your cat’s pulmonary artery and can potentially be fatal, since the parasites can end up blocking vessels that bring blood to his lungs.

Intestinal parasites in cats

There are several different intestinal parasites that can infect your cat, like:

These parasites affect your cat’s gastrointestinal tract and can sometimes cause digestive issues, like diarrhea.

External parasites in cats

External parasites can affect your cat’s skin, hair or other things outside his body. These include:

Fleas live on your cat’s skin, and ticks suck his blood, and both can be super irritating for him — physically and mentally.

Mites include things like:

  • Demodex (lives in your cat’s hair follicles)
  • Scabies (lives on his skin)
  • Cheyletiellosis (aka walking dandruff, lives on his skin)

Cat parasite symptoms

Since there are so many different types of parasites your cat could have, the symptoms of a parasitic infection will definitely vary.

Symptoms of intestinal parasites in cats might include things like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting

Meanwhile, signs of external parasites in cats sometimes present as:

  • Itching
  • Hair loss
  • Skin irritation

A lot of the time, your cat might show no symptoms at all from a parasitic infection. This is particularly true with heartworm in cats.

How to tell if your cat has fleas or ticks

Fleas and ticks are pretty annoying external parasites, and can even lead to other diseases — fleas can give him tapeworms, and ticks can carry Lyme disease, for example — so being able to tell if your cat’s dealing with these pests will help you get him treated ASAP.

Signs your cat might have fleas include:

  • Scratching
  • Thinning hair
  • Excessive grooming

And if he has a tick, you might notice things like:

  • Small bumps
  • Bugs on his skin or in his fur

Cat parasite treatment

If your cat winds up with a parasite, there are several treatment options that can be effective, depending on which parasite he’s dealing with. (Some treatment products can also be used to prevent parasitic infections as a bonus.)

When it comes to intestinal parasites in cats, the following treatments could clear up his infection:

  • Praziquantel: for tapeworms
  • Emodepside: for hookworms and roundworms
  • Pyrantel: for hookworms and roundworms
  • Fenbendazole: for whipworms and giardia

But for heartworm disease, unfortunately, there really isn’t anything you can do in the way of treatment, which is why it’s so important for your cat to take regular heartworm preventative medication.

For external parasites, there are lots of great products on the market to fight fleas, ticks and mites. And toxoplasmosis can be cleared up using antibiotics and steroids.

Flea and tick treatment for cats

When it comes to clearing up fleas or fighting off ticks, several medications actually combine treatment for both bugs.

Bravecto Plus, for example, is a topical solution that’s designed to be effective against these external parasites. Some vets even use it for certain mites, too.

Bravecto Plus is available for cats in the following weight ranges:

So there you have it. Now you know how to keep your cat safe from parasites. Just make sure to stay on top of any preventative medication, and always bring your cat to the vet if he’s acting strange.

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