In my teaching career as a piano instructor, I have a lot of students who are enthusiastic about their pets. They would tell stories about them during our casual conversations. And one of the most popular pets among my students is cats. And because of the stories I hear, I am convinced that cats are indeed among the best family pets.
However, cats have serious problems with roundworms. It is one of the common causes of malnourishment, intestinal blockage, pneumonia and even death if not properly treated. Roundworms compete with their host for food as they also feed on intestinal contents. They can grow to be as long as five inches and are notable for their spaghetti-like appearance.
There are three ways a cat may acquire roundworms. One is through the rodents they hunt which may already have roundworms in their system. Once a cat consumes its prey, roundworms and their larvae can be transferred to the cat. Another way of transmission is through environmental transmission when a cat accidentally ingests roundworm eggs from the soil or has contact with feces from other cats. Lastly is by mammary transmission which occurs when some larvae inside the host migrate to the mammary gland and are then passed on to the kittens through their mother’s milk.
There are symptoms that can help you detect if there are roundworms in cats. These include weight loss despite giving your pet the proper nutrition, potbellied appearance and diarrhea. You may also notice that your cat has a dull hair coat instead of the usual shiny coat. In some instances, cats may also suffer from cough that could go on for days because of roundworm migration to the lungs. And the most obvious sign is when your cat vomits roundworms.
Once your cat manifests the symptoms of roundworms, you should see a veterinarian for proper treatment or medication. Aside from the symptoms, you may also be required to submit a sample of your cat’s stool for fecal flotation which can detect the presence of roundworm eggs in the feces. Once confirmed that your cat has roundworms, a common treatments is administering worming medication in topical or tablet form. Deworming should be done repeatedly because the medication is only effective on adult roundworms. The number of times you will administer medication normally depends on the age and health condition of your cat.
Moreover, while you care for your infected cat, you should also be careful because you might also catch the worm through contact with your cat. Many pet owners become infected with toxocariasis which is a disease caused by roundworm egg infection. Once you are infected with roundworms, they could also migrate to other parts of your body including the liver, eyes and brain. To avoid being infected, it is important to clean up your cat’s waste immediately.
Having a pet cat can be a good thing because they are one of the sweetest and most loyal pets you can have. However, it is important that you have basic knowledge about some of the common health problems of these animals, and one of them is roundworm infestation.