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Tapeworms In Cats – Everything You Need To Know

Tapeworms are known for affecting cats at any stage of their life. They can be seen in kittens as well as in adult cats. The good side of this parasite is that it’s not extremely dangerous. Plus, it can be cured with proper treatment. Discover how you can know for sure if your cat is infected with tapeworms or not.

Tapeworms in cats can be seen during their entire furry life. Cats can suffer from a variety of intestinal parasites. One of the most distressing parasites for a cat are tapeworms. They are relatively uncommon if you keep your cat on a schedule for prevention. If not, tapeworms can be seen more often than usual.

What tapeworms do is actually really simple. They use their long and flat bodies to attach to the host’s intestines. By doing so they are feeding off the host as they grow longer every day and become more aggressive and bigger.

What Are Tapeworms?

Tapeworms in a cat are known by its white color, while their bodies are long and flat. They strive in cat’s small intestine, by hooking up on the inside wall. They manage to survive by simply feeding nutrients that pass through your feline.

Tapeworms stick to your cat until they reach their grown maximum. Tapeworms can grow up to 20 inches, although they are considered to be all grown up by the time they grow up to 8 inches. As the tapeworm matures, it starts shedding segments of itself. Scientists call these segments proglottids.

Proglottids are not big, their size fits one grain of rice. Proglottids can break off from the main body (from tapeworm) and pass into your feline’s feces.

Cats can get tapeworms in a few different ways. The most common way is through fleas. Even the smallest flea larvae can be infected with this parasite.

How Do Cats Get Tapeworms?

You are probably asking how can flea get into the digestive system? It’s rather simple actually.

Cats are known for being clean animals and having strong self-grooming practice. Therefore, your feline can digest infected flea during her grooming sessions.
The infected flea transmits a tiny tapeworm into your cat that grows to its full size.

Also, cats can get tapeworms by eating small animals like mice and squirrels.

But when it comes to how tapeworms really affect your cat scientists are not worried. Or not worried too much, at least. According to a larger number of scientists and veterinarians, cat worms are considered to be a minor parasite. Slightly gross from your point of view probably, but still a minor parasite.

Then, if your cat is affected or heavily invested with tapeworms, she might experience weight loss. But why is that? This happens because worms are digesting your cat’s food and taking away the nutritional values of the food your cat was fed with.

Furthermore, a tapeworm can travel into a cat’s stomach. If that, and when it happens, your feline will have some vomiting moments. Your cat can even vomit a still-alive worm. This is usually a clear sign for a cat owner that the cat is infected, in case the owner was completely unaware of the infection.

Tapeworms In Cats – Symptoms

There are many different ways for you to learn if your cat is infected by tapeworms or not. Therefore the most common and probably the most efficient way is to look under its tail. Yes, the first thing that you need to do is to check your cat’s feces.

Bear in mind that there are two different kinds of tapeworms. The first one is easily seen in feces inside your’s cat litter box. The other one, often more challenging, are too small to see, they can even be a size of cucumber seeds, in appearance and in size. If you notice small white ‘grains’, it’s likely your cat has a parasite.

Tapeworms can cause cats to lose weight, and it’s not whatsoever connected with appetite. Cats can have a strong appetite and still lose weight when infected. The final sign to look for is the condition of your feline’s coat. Cats coats are usually shiny and gentle on touch. But, when some parasites are involved coat becomes shabby and dull. Unless your cat is going through cats dandruff, changes in coat are a warning sign something is going on.

Good to know: If you cat aggressively bites, licks anus, or drags its backside across the floor as a form of itching, you are witnessing fight against parasite.

Symptoms Of Tapeworms

  1. White rice-size grains in feces
  2. Significant weight loss or appetite loss
  3. Dull coat

If you notice any of these signs, make sure that you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If you notice tapeworms on time it’s much easier to treat them and get rid of them. Early stage discovery helps your cat be more still and relaxed as she won’t be disturbed for a longer period of time.

Diagnosing Tapeworms in Cats

The best way to make sure either your feline is infected with tapeworms or not it to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. In order to determine that veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination on your cat.

If your cat is infected, tapeworms will be found in the feces or in the anal sac. The fastest way to determine that is to use a fecal sample.

Bear in mind that sometimes tests might be negative although the cat is affected. Those cases are rare, and most of the tests are terminal and exact.

Treating Tapeworms In Cats

Treating tapeworms is surprisingly simple and above everything else easy. In addition, it’s not even that expensive. Treating tapeworms in your cat starts with your vet’s diagnosis. Also, your vet is the only one that can provide and prescribe a suitable medication. These two steps are fast, simple and easy. Also, if you manage to take your cat to vet on time, in an early stage, chances are forever into your favor.

Tapeworms are always treated with medications, although they might be in a form of skin drops, tablets or even injections. However, bear in mind that some medications can lead to side effects like diarrhea or vomiting.

One of the ways to treat tapeworms may include flea medications. These medications are usually used once the tapeworms are eliminated, and you want to make sure to eliminate any possibility of reinfection. Flea medications are often prescribed on a once a month basis.

The most common and the easiest way to diagnose tapeworms is through visual inspection. But, there may be other diagnostic tests as well, and all together depending on your kitty’s symptoms. Often, it can include a fecal test. Deworming medications are a must when it comes to treating tapeworms. Also, ensuring that your home is flea-free is important, especially that you don’t want your cat to become re-infected.

Learn more on how to treat tapeworms in cats in the video below.

Prevention Of Tapeworms

Preventing tapeworms is not too difficult like prevention of many other diseases. Consistency is important here, and having it all written down somewhere, same as kitten vaccination can only help you in maintaining your feline’s health.

As soon as kittens turn six weeks they are put under monthly preventive treatment against tapeworms. After that period of six months, they continue having their treatments every three months. When it comes to adult cats, they can have their treatment every two to six months, according to their needs.

One of the main causes of tapeworms in cats is connected to ingesting fleas. Therefore, having a flea collar and oral medication that is meant to fight them is a great prevention step that will help you in keeping your cat safe.

Are There Other Worms In Cats

Tapeworms are the most common types of worms in cats. However, there are other worms that infect cats. The most common, after tapeworms, are:

  • Roundworms: these worms are mostly attracted to kittens as they can be affected if mother’s milk is infected. An adult cat can get them if they eat an infected rodent
  • Hookworms: these worms are more common in dogs, they can be seen in cats. They are small like tapeworms and they as well feed on animal’s blood that can lead to cats anemia. A cat can get infected with hookworms through skin contact or ingestion
  • Non-intestinal worms: this group is made from worms like eye worms, heartworms and lungworms. These worms are specific because they are living outside of the gastrointestinal tract.

Although just a mind of a worm living inside of your furry feline is disturbing, the good thing is that you can easily get rid of them. In addition, the chances are small that they will do anything too harmful.


The best thing that you can do for your cat is to keep a close eye on her, her daily routines and most importantly her daily behaviors. If you notice some sudden changes that are not common for your feline, you should react.

Also, make sure that you memorize everything or as much as possible so you can help your veterinarian to set a diagnosis as precise as possible. Cats are using their body language to communicate with us, especially when they are in pain.

Cats are notorious in hiding pain so you really need to be extra observant and to have a regular vet check-up.