Feline roundworms are very common parasites. These worms, which make their way to the intestinal tract, can be anywhere between three and six inches long. Unlike most other parasites that affect the intestinal tract, they don’t attach themselves to the walls. They simply float around freely. An infestation leads to a disease known as ascariasis.
Roundworms in cats become a problem when eggs that contain infective larvae are swallowed. These eggs are usually found in the stool of cats. They can also be harbored by rodents, so cats can become infected when they eat them. Most commonly however, mothers pass the infection to her kittens through placenta or the milk.
Cat roundworms don’t always cause noticeable signs, especially when they aren’t present in large numbers. If the infestation is sizable however, kittens can suffer from life-threatening problems. Adults typically don’t suffer from issues though.
If a kitten is infected with roundworms, you may notice that he appears to have a pot-belly. He won’t grow properly and can also start to lose weight. His hair coat will also appear dull. Vomiting and diarrhea are also common signs of an infestation, with roundworms sometimes being expelled through stool and vomit.
The veterinarian can diagnose feline roundworms using a stool sample. The feces will be mixed with a solution that will force roundworm eggs to float. This can be examined under a microscope, allowing the vet to determine if these parasites are indeed the problem. It may sometimes be necessary to examine multiple stool samples since the eggs may not be present at all times, although they’re usually abundant.
There are various medications used to treat an infestation of roundworms in cats. After the medication kills off the worms, they will be expelled from the body through the stool. It’s important to note that these medications are only effective in killing adult worms. Once larvae have had time to mature, usually two to three weeks, another round of medication will be necessary.
In the case of kittens, it is usually best that they be given periodic deworming medication during each visit to the vet. Owners should also take proper precautions with their adult cats, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. To prevent feline roundworms, adults can be given period deworming medications also.