Although our cat does not have access to the outside, it is possible that at some point in its life, it acquires internal parasites. These can not only affect the digestive system, they are also found in the lungs and the heart.
Knowing them will help us prevent them and keep our kitty free of internal parasites . Prevention is very simple and functional, we explain it to you.
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Toxoplasmosis in cats
We begin by talking about toxoplasma, the most well-known parasite of cats. It is a zoonosis, that is, it can affect humans and is serious in the case of pregnant women due to the risk it poses to the fetus.
This protozoan produces a disease that tends to be asymptomatic in cats, but it will also eliminate oocysts in its feces , which are the infective forms of the parasite.
This elimination is timely. It should be known that, for the oocysts to be active, the droppings must have been in the environment for 2-5 days and should be ingested, which makes contagion between cat and caregiver difficult .
People tend to get toxoplasmosis from eating contaminated food. The cat is infected by hunting and eating small prey.
Flatworms in felines
This group, in which tapeworms are prominent, can also affect humans . It is made up of flattened worms with adult forms that inhabit the small intestine.
The eggs come out in the form of grains of rice and we can see them in the feces or around the anus. This is usually the only information that makes us suspect its presence, since the cat usually does not show symptoms. Only if it is weak or small can we detect any digestive disorder.
Fleas can transmit them when they are ingested by the cat, hence external deworming is also essential. Another route of infection is the ingestion of small rodents.
Roundworms in kittens
They are the most common. The females lay an enormous quantity of eggs that, in addition, resist years in the environment, which increases the risk of infestation.
Although in healthy adult cats it is difficult to produce symptoms, in highly parasitized kittens, which can be spread through breast milk, we can appreciate the swollen abdomen, vomiting and diarrhea . Respiratory symptoms such as cough or pneumonia may also appear due to migration of these worms to the lungs.
Humans, especially children, can get them by handling soil.
They affect the small and large intestines, especially in kittens or animals with weakened immune systems, causing diarrhea, sometimes with blood.
If left untreated, they are life threatening due to dehydration and complications from their association with other parasites, viruses, or bacteria.
Prevention is to maintain good hygienic conditions, with special care in the case of cats with their litter.
Also more frequent in kittens during the first year of life and sometimes associated with other digestive pathogens, they produce symptoms such as intermittent mucous diarrhea or persistent fatty diarrhea, lack of appetite, vomiting and apathy.
For the diagnosis it is usually necessary to take stool samples for several days.
Lung worms in cats
Although we usually associate worms with the gastrointestinal habitat, the truth is that there are also worms that parasitize the lungs, where they lay their eggs . When the cat coughs, the larvae reach the mouth, are swallowed, enter the digestive system and are expelled with the feces, from where they infest small prey or snails.
Typical clinical signs, which are not present in all cats, include coughing, sneezing, occasionally mucous discharge, breathing difficulties, or lethargy. In kittens, some infestations can be very serious by causing bronchopneumonia.
The cat contracts it when bit by an infested mosquito. They are worms that can reach great lengths and are located in the heart and large pulmonary blood vessels. Thus, the symptoms they produce will affect both the cardiac and respiratory systems , although the most common is that the infestation is asymptomatic.
The cat can die suddenly without us suspecting the cause, that is why prevention is important, which in the case of cats is to avoid being bitten.
Around 2-3 weeks of life of the kittens, internal deworming begins, which must be repeated frequently during the first months and always before vaccination .
In adult cats, the frequency of deworming will depend on the cat’s way of life. There can be an approximate pattern of between every 3-6 months .
We can choose different products such as pills, syrups or even pipettes, always following the instructions of our veterinarian. In this way we will eliminate a good part of the parasites that can affect our cat.
For some, like toxoplasma , we will focus on prevention, preventing the cat from eating raw meat or hunting . The hygiene of sandboxes and the environment also plays an important role in the prevention of infestations and reinfestations.
Detection of internal parasites in cats
In routine visits to the veterinarian, he can take, with a thermometer, a sample of our cat’s stool . Its observation under the microscope can reveal the presence of various parasites so that, when identifying them, the veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate dewormer.
If the examination does not find anything but we suspect the presence of parasites, we will collect samples for several days, since some are eliminated irregularly and require more than one examination to be detected. Locating others requires using different laboratory techniques.
Finally, although many parasites do not trigger symptoms in healthy cats, they will have an impact on their general health. Large infestations will cause weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea and, in kittens, growth retardation.
As we can see, they are nonspecific symptoms, so parasitosis should always be included in the differential diagnosis of cats that do not follow a deworming protocol.