Everything You Should Know About Tapeworms In Cats

And how to spot them 💩

tapeworms in cats

Tapeworms sound pretty awful, so you definitely don’t want your cat to get them.

Plus if your cat does wind up with these pesky parasites, you’ll have to be careful because it’s possible you could get them the same way he did.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can treat your cat’s tapeworms and prevent him from ever getting infected again.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian working with Doggie Designer, to find out everything you need to know about tapeworms in cats.

What are tapeworms in cats?

Tapeworms are intestinal parasites in cats that will latch themselves onto the walls of your cat’s intestines.

“They are a little different from the other ‘worms’ in that they are flat instead of round,” Dr. Bonk told The Dodo. “Tapeworms attach to the small intestine of cats and live off of the nutrients that the cat takes in.”

Tapeworm infections aren’t typically serious, but they can be if your cat has a bunch of worms.

“Tapeworms can be dangerous ... in high numbers,” Dr. Bonk said.

Are there tapeworms in my cat’s poop?

Tapeworms are segmented parasites, and pieces of tapeworm can show up in your cat’s poop.

“Their eggs are contained in segments of their body that break off, exit the cat and then open to release the eggs into the environment,” Dr. Bonk said.

The segments are big enough that you’ll be able to spot them yourself, and this is often how cats get diagnosed with a tapeworm infection.

“Most of the time tapeworm segments are noticed on the feces or stuck in the hair under the tail,” Dr. Bonk said. “They look like grains of rice and may wriggle from place to place.”

Passing tapeworm segments isn’t the most fun thing for your cat since it can be pretty uncomfortable for him.

“Cats may sometimes drag their rear end across the ground when passing a tapeworm, or they may vomit one up,” Dr. Bonk said.

How do cats get tapeworms?

Cats don’t get tapeworms by direct exposure to the worms themselves.

“In order to get tapeworms, a cat needs to ingest an intermediate host,” Dr. Bonk said. “The eggs themselves aren’t capable of causing an infestation unless they have matured in a flea.”

Basically, this means your cat would have to eat an infected flea in order to get tapeworms.

“Once a cat eats an infected host, the tapeworm attaches to the wall of the small intestine and starts to reproduce,” Dr. Bonk said.

Can humans get tapeworms from cats?

It’s possible for humans to get tapeworms from cats.

“There are a couple species of tapeworms that we can get from our cats,” Dr. Bonk said. “One of them requires ingestion of an infected flea, just like our cat would do. The other we can get from ingesting the eggs.”

The most common species of tapeworm is called Dipylidium caninum, and humans can get this by eating an infected flea. The more rare type of tapeworm, known as Echinococcus, can be contracted by eating the flea eggs that are passed through the feces of an infected animal.

Getting tapeworms from your cat is unlikely, though, since in most cases it would involve you swallowing fleas. As long as you’re on top of your hygiene and keep your environment clean, you should be fine.

“Both can be prevented with proper flea control and sanitary measures,” Dr. Bonk said.

What are the symptoms of tapeworms in cats?

If your cat has tapeworms, he might only show a few symptoms, like:

  • Weight loss
  • Scooting
  • Vomiting
  • Debilitation

If you notice any of these signs, reach out to your veterinarian, since these signs could also be indicative of other illnesses.

What’s the best tapeworm treatment for cats?

When it comes to tapeworm treatment for cats, vets will always prescribe dewormers. And since cats get tapeworms from fleas, flea prevention medication is also super helpful.

Tapeworm medicine for cats

There are a lot of tapeworm medicines for cats that you can use to treat your pet’s parasites.

“Tapeworm medications kill the adult worms that are in your cat’s intestine at the time,” Dr. Bonk said.

Reaching for over-the-counter dewormers is tempting, but prescription medications are actually best for tapeworm treatment.

“Tapeworms can be treated with an anthelmintic that you get from your veterinarian,” Dr. Bonk said. “There are over-the-counter products as well, but these aren’t always as effective or safe as those from your vet.”

When it comes to tapeworm medicine for cats, Dr. Bonk recommends Drontal or Droncit.

“The active ingredient is praziquantel, and it can be combined with other anthelmintics to control nearly all intestinal parasites in cats,” Dr. Bonk said.

Try Drontal from Chewy for $5.49+
Or Droncit from Chewy for $4.99+

Flea prevention for cats

Tapeworm medicine for cats doesn’t protect your cat against future infections — that’s where flea prevention comes in.

“The best bet for preventing tapeworms in cats is to control fleas,” Dr. Bonk said. “Use oral or topical products that kill and prevent flea infestations.”

Revolution is a topical flea prevention medication your vet can prescribe. It’s available for cats in the following weight ranges:

So now you know what to do if your cat winds up with tapeworms. And if your BFF has a clean bill of health, you know how to keep it that way.

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