Whipworms in Cats (Trichuris Vulpis)
Whipworms are a common parasite in cats. Scientifically, whipworms are known as Trichuris vulpis. A nematode that feed on blood, they are found in the intestinal tract of kittens and cats. The worms attach to and feed on the feline intestinal wall, often causing watery and sometimes bloody diarrhea.
The most common victims of whipworms are cats and other canids such as foxes and coyotes. The parasites are transferred through direct contact with an infected animal or the ingestion of an embryonated egg in contaminated feces or soil.
Whipworms most commonly affect kittens and adult cats that hunt. They are transferred through direct contact and ingestion of an embryonated egg in contaminated feces or soil, eating a contaminated animal, or where another animal has shed the eggs of a whipworm.
Transmission to humans is very rare and whipworms are not considered zoonotic (contagious between people and animals). Proper hand washing techniques is always advised for anyone that has or thinks they may have come into contact with an infected pet.
What to Look For in Your Cat
- Blood in the stool
- Weight loss
- Mucus in the stool
- Anemia (seen in severe infections)
Veterinary Care For Whipworms in Cats
Care from your personal veterinarian should be sought out for diagnostic testing and treatment. Home care is not advised.
You will not be able to see whipworms in your pet’s stool with the naked eye. Bringing a small fecal sample into your veterinarian and having them perform a zinc sulfate fecal float is the best means of diagnosis.
There are many whipworm treatments including one or more of the following medications:
- Strongid (pyrantel palemoate) – most often given once with a repeated dose in 2 weeks
- Panacur (fenbendazole) – most often given once a day for 3 days
- Drontal Plus
- Advantage Multi
Some treatments may be chosen over others based on concurrent parasite infections.
Home Care for Cats with Whipworms
There are many things you can do at home to keep your cat protected from whipworms:
- Administer all medications as directed and prescribed by your veterinarian. All of the prescribed medication should be given to be sure that you eliminate the infection completely-don’t stop when symptoms disappear. You should also be sure to treat all infected pets in the household.
- Decontamination of the environment is a very important part of preventing infection. Keep feces picked up from your yard on a regular basis, especially if you have an infected animal. In situations such as kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores, where animals are kept under close confinement, proper sanitation is crucial to prevent cross-contamination from animal to animal. All fecal matter must be removed from cages and yards. Kennels must be cleaned with proper disinfectants, allowed appropriate contact time, and totally dried before pets can come into contact with them. The most common effective disinfectants are bleach and clorhexadine solutions.
- Give all doses of dewormer to ensure that you kill all of the worms living in the intestinal tract.
- Give any prescribed heartworm prevention medications that may also treat whipworm infections.
I hope this article helps you know more about the diagnosis and treatment of whipworm (Trichuris vulpis) in cats.