Tapeworms In Cats and Kittens: How Do They Get Them, How To Get Rid Of Them, Prevention, And More

What are tapeworms? How do cats get them? Are they dangerous for the cat’s health? Can you also get tapeworms from your feline furball? How can you get rid of the worms?

These are all important questions, as you can never be too careful with illnesses in your pets.

Tapeworms are one of several types of worms which can infect felines. They are among the most common types of worms found in cats and are harmful not only to your kitten, but also to you, your dog, and the rest of the people residing in your household.

That’s why you should deworm your kitten when it’s still a baby and you should also take precautions when it comes to adult or senior cats.

What Are Tapeworms In Cats?

Tapeworms are flatworms, which resemble a long white-ish ribbon. They reside in the cat’s small intestine.

There are two types of tapeworms in felines – taenia and dipylidium caninum. The taenia is the actual flatworm. The dipylidium caninum are the eggs of the tapeworms, which hatch after they find their way inside the cat.

Causes For Tapeworms In Cats – How Do They Get Them?

Apart from flea infestations, there are two other ways cats can be infected.

The first way is for your kitten to hang around infected feces from another cat or a dog. Sometimes its own infected waste can also cause a new infection. Thus, you must keep the litter box cleaned at all times, but especially when treating your cat for any kind of parasite.

The second way for a cat to get infected is to swallow an infected bird or rodent.

Fleas transmit tapeworm eggs instead of the actual flatworm. The eggs will hatch after they have found their way into the kitty’s small intestine.

Symptoms And Effects On Cats

Tapeworms are problematic but not lethal.

They feed off of the kitty’s intestine. As such, they devour the cat’s nutrition and if there’s a large infestation, they’ll affect the cat’s nutritional needs.

In the case of a large tapeworm infestation, your cat will lose weight. Its appetite may also change depending on how long the worms have been inside it and how many there are. The cat’s fur will get patchy and will partially lose its softness.

These parasites can cause vomiting and sometimes even diarrhea, but these effects won’t show up in all cats which have been infected with tapeworms.

Can You Get Tapeworms From Your Cat?

Yes! You, your children, and your other pets can also get tapeworms if your feline pal has them, even though it’s rare for a human to be infected.

If dogs and other domesticated animals sniff, lick, or touch infected kitty feces, they can be contaminated. The feces may contain small tapeworm eggs, which resemble rice grains. These can cling to the animal. Then they’ll hatch after 5-10 days into larvae, which can penetrate the animal’s skin.

Small children shouldn’t be allowed near the cat’s litter box and you should be extremely careful when getting rid of the waste. One solution is to get an automatic litter box.

How To Get Rid Of And Prevent Tapeworms In Cats

Female cats should always be dewormed before mating and becoming pregnant with kittens, because they can pass down various worms to newborn kitties.

The best way to get rid of tapeworms is to seek a professional’s help. Don’t opt for homemade remedies and don’t show up at the local pet store without consulting with your vet.

The veterinarian will need to inspect the cat’s feces in order to determine the type of worms. In some cases he might need to do an X-ray scan to check the infestation inside your furball’s intestines before prescribing the proper treatment.

You’ll need to use tapeworm preventative medication orally on your pet, usually in the form of tablets. Your vet will tell you the amount of medication you need to feed your cat and the frequency with which it should be administered. The process usually takes more than one procedure.

If you’re taking your pet for walks on a leash be careful of fleas, carrion, and infected rodents.

Keep your house and yard (or apartment) clean and flea-free at all times. The cat’s litter box and bedding are usually the places where fleas might be hiding.

After the deworming procedures are over you’ll need to take a stool sample to your vet for a new check-up. This way you can be sure that your cat is good to go. There is no immunity against tapeworms. Just because your cat has been thoroughly treated doesn’t mean it can’t catch them again. If you opt for keeping your furry pet only indoors, this will lower the risk of parasites.

Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!