"Toxocara, Cats & You
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"Toxocara, Cats & You

Cats
Health & Safety

Anyone who owns a pussy cat knows the importance of regularly worming them to ensure their pets stay happy and healthy. Today, there are many effective treatments available with some being more powerful than others which is especially true if a vet prescribes them. However, even over the counter cat wormers are pretty effective with the one proviso being that you have to use a wormer that's been specifically formulated for use on cats and never any other kind which could prove fatal to your feline friend.

Cats become part of a family and they love both the companionship and closeness they are given. However, this closeness also means that you could catch one particular intestinal parasite that cats suffer from which is called Toxocara, more frequently referred to as the common roundworm. The thing to bear in mind is the problem is a lot more common than most people realise.

All cats are susceptible to catching worms at some point in their lives no matter how well looked after they happen to be. Should a case of intestinal worms go untreated the effect of an infestation can be quite dramatic with the following symptoms raising their ugly heads:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Anaemia – which could prove fatal if the condition is severe

As previously mentioned, the common roundworm (Toxocara) is one type of worm that cats get which can be transmitted to their owners and in particular to children who are considered more susceptible. This is why having a routine and regular worming programme in place is so very important because it not only helps protect your cat but families too.

The Various Types of Worms that Affect Cats

There are a variety of intestinal worms that affect cats (and dogs too) which include the following:

  • Roundworms – Toxocara – these live in a cat's gut eating the contents which in turn means they grow reaching up to 10mm in length. A heavily infected cat may have dozens of these intestinal worms and a nursing mother can pass them on to her kittens through her milk. Roundworm eggs can survive in the environment for a very long time
  • Tapeworms – Dipylidium caninum – these intestinal parasites can grow up to half a metre in length with some other types measuring an outstanding 5 metres. Cats that hunt and catch a lot of mice and other rodents are more at risk of catching these nasty worms
  • Hookworms – Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Ancylostoma braziliense – these intestinal parasites grow to around 10mm in length and attach themselves to a cat's gut wall feeding on their blood.

All Intestinal Worms Can be Controlled

Luckily, all these intestinal worms can be controlled and if a regular worming programme is in place, your cat's health should not be affected. However, this can be quite hard if you own a cat that adores being outside hunting down rodents. Even if you have just wormed them, as soon as they catch a mouse they run the risk of being reinfected and worms can grow very fast. A egg once hatched out will reach maturity in around 3 weeks depending on the type of worm that is.

With this said, it is essential to worm a cat every three months using a product that's been specifically formulated for use on cats. Fortunately, there are many very effective broad spectrum wormers on the market that kill off tapeworms and roundworms. The problem is getting a cat to swallow the tablet!

Spot-On Wormers Are a Very Good Option

Fortunately, you can now get a spot-on product from a vet that kills off roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. This has made the whole process of worming our feline friends a whole lot easier. All that's needed is for a drop to be put on the back of your cat's neck and the treatment lasts up to three months making the whole ordeal of worming a feline friend a lot less stressful for both cats and their owners.

Protecting the Family From Toxocara

It would be fair to say that a lot of cat owners don't know just how prevalent Toxocara in the UK actually is with both cats and dogs being affected. If an infection goes untreated in a person, it very often leads to blindness. It is estimated that around 50 to 60 cases of damage to the eye or blindness in people can be put down to Toxocara annually in the UK.

Rather worryingly, around 1.5 million dogs with roundworm go undetected and it's recommended that pets be wormed on a monthly basis to avoid the risk of being infected. One single female Toxocara worm is capable of laying thousands of eggs each and every day and this could be anywhere a pet might happen to spend any time in or pass through.

Roundworm eggs are sticky so cats pick them up on their fur and ingest them once they start grooming themselves. Nursing cats can pass the infection on to their kittens through their milk so it's important that females be regularly treated if they are used for breeding purposes. Eggs cannot be seen with the naked eye and tests would need to be carried out by a vet to see if any are present in a cat's faeces. Sometimes the worms themselves can be seen in a pet's poo and they look like spaghetti, however, it is the eggs which are infectious.

Kids are more likely to infected with Toxocara simply because they might drop a sweetie on the ground where eggs may have been laid . They then put the sweet in their mouths and automatically become infected. The other way eggs are transmitted to people is when they stroke a pet and then touch their mouths which is why it's so important to wash hands after stroking or handling a cat or other pet. If you think your cat may have Toxocara, you should take them along to your vet so they can carry out the necessary tests before recommending an effective treatment.

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