Roundworms in Cats (Toxacara Cati)
Feline Roundworm Infection
Toxacara Cati is a nematode parasite more commonly known as “roundworm” in cats. It is found in almost every kitten at birth and affects mostly kittens and young cats. It causes a “pot belly” appearance and can you can see adult worms shed in the feces that are long and slender most often described by clients as looking like spaghetti. Toxacara Cati only affects dogs and other cats.
It is transferred through the contact and ingestion of contaminated feces, eating and infected host animal, and through the mammary glands of nursing animals. Most kittens are born with roundworm infections. Most pet stores and breeders will deworm kittens starting at 6 weeks and often every 2 weeks for 3 to 4 treatments.
Transmission to humans is possible through accidentally touching infected feces and then touching the mouth or face or eating without washing hands. According to the CDC this is most important in children who play in or eat dirt, where roundworms can migrate to the eye and cause blindness and damage the retina. Encourage proper hand washing techniques in all individuals in contact with infected pets.
What to Look For in Your Cat
- Pot Bellied Appearance
- Weight loss or unable to gain weight
- In sever infections obstruction can occur
Veterinary Care for Roundworms in Cats
Care from your personal veterinarian should be sought out for diagnostic testing and treatment.
Diagnosis of Roundworms in Cats
Roundworms are diagnosed by bringing a fecal sample into your veterinarian and having them perform a zinc sulfate fecal float. Many times pet owners can see the worms in their pet’s stool (see photo).
Treatment of Roundworms in Cats
There are many treatments including one or more of the following medications. Some medications may be chosen based on concurrent parasite infections.
Common medications may include:
- Pyrantel (Strongid) – commonly given once and repeated in 2 weeks.
- Fenbendazole (Panacur)
- Drontal Plus
Home Care for Roundworms in Cats
There are several things you can do to keep your cat protected from roundworms. These include:
- Administer as directed all medications prescribed by your veterinarian. All of the prescribed medication should be given to insure elimination of the infection. Treat all infected pets in the household.
- Decontamination of the environment is an important part of preventing infection. Keeping feces cleaned up from the yard on a regular basis is important especially if you have an infected animal. In situations in which animals are under close confinement (e.g. kennels, animal shelters, pet stores), proper sanitation is crucial to prevent cross-contamination from one animal to another. All fecal material must be removed from cages, runs and yards. Kennels must be cleaned with appropriate disinfectants and totally dried before allowing pet’s access to them. Effective disinfectants most commonly used are bleach and chlorhexadine solutions.
- Empty feces and clean litter boxes on a regular basis with soap and water
- Give all doses of dewormer to ensure that you kill all of the worms living in the intestinal tract.\
- Bathing animals is important to remove any infected feces including the eggs and larvae from the haircoat.
- Give any prescribed flea and heartworm prevention medications that may also treat roundworm infections.