Library

Cats + Parasites

  • Hookworm is a parasitic infection of the gastrointestinal tract of cats. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. How the infection is spread along with clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention are covered in this handout.

  • This handout outlines common internal parasites in cats. Included are parasites of the gastrointestinal tract (roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms), as well as parasites of the circulatory system (heartworms). How each of these parasites can affect your cat and what you can do to prevent or treat infection are explained.

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of cats after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the cat’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected cats can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from cats to humans.

  • Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of the cat. Almost all cats will become infected with roundworms at some point in their life and most often as kittens. Roundworms are not particularly harmful to adult cats, but large numbers may cause life-threatening problems in kittens and debilitated older cats.

  • Tapeworms are parasites that infect the gastrointestinal tract of cats, other animals, and humans. Several types of tapeworms are known to infect pets, but the most common species observed in cats is Dipylidium caninum, which is transmitted through fleas. Risk factors, clinical signs, treatment, and prevention are explained in this handout. Other, less common types of tapeworms that affect cats and humans are also covered.

  • Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their host and can in turn transmit diseases to your cat or even you. They are prolific breeders and their life cycles can extend through multiple seasons. Prompt removal or use of preventatives limit or prevent the spread of disease, or kill the ticks.

  • Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by infection with the organism called Toxoplasma gondii. This is a microscopic single-cell protozoal organism related to coccidia. Toxoplasma occurs worldwide and infection in cats is similarly widespread. Although toxoplasmosisis a relatively common infection, it usually causes no disease in infected cats.