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Intestinal parasites in cats – Symptoms and treatment

Surely, the intestinal parasitosis be one of the main reasons why we went to the veterinary clinic with our cats, especially when we just adopted a kitten of young age.

The presence of what we commonly know as worms in their stools, it is sufficient for the diagnosis, but there are some less striking symptoms such as rough coat and abdominal distension. The first question we ask ourselves is, how can it have so many parasites if it’s only two months old and it takes me weeks? will try to answer this and other issues in this article on intestinal parasites in cats, symptoms and treatment.

Nematodes in cats (round guasanos)

Under the name of nematodes, get togheter many types of parasites that could be cataloged as true worms because of their similar appearance to them. Within this group, cats are frequently affected by two types of parasites: Ascarids y Ancylostomids.

Ascarid nematodes

Here we find the Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina, being this second less important in terms of incidence and symptomatology. No doubt the prevalence of Toxocara cati It requires a thorough mention of it: it has a direct biological cycle, but very complicated, basically the eggs go out and after a few days, an infective larva (larva in phase III) is formed inside them. This egg with infective larva can swallow a kitten, in which case the egg it hatches in the intestine, the L-III traverses the intestinal wall and through the circulation reaches the liver and from there, to the lung (porta system).

There is a new molt to the next larval stage, and by cough, which produces phlegm and swallowing reflex, that larva goes to the mouth and returns to the small intestine. There he will become an adult, and will be fixed to the intestine, taking nutrients directly and competing for their absorption with the kitten.

They do not ingest blood, but they expel nutrients, which can lead to characteristic symptoms of the ascarids: rough coat, little weight gain, distension of abdomen, vomiting with worms rolled as springs, diarrhea. Occasionally they cause mechanical obstruction of the intestine due to an enormous amount of parasites and can cause death.

Ancylostomid nematodes

In this type of nematodes, we find Ancylostoma tubaeforme ya Uncinaria stenocephala. They have hooks on their buccal apparatus with which they anchor firmly to the small intestine, to suck blood. For this, they release an anticoagulant and if there are a lot of parasites, they will cause a considerable hemorrhage, appearing tarry stools. The characteristic symptoms of ancylostomids They are: anemia, weakness, and even death if the kitten is very parasitized.

Its size is minuscule in comparison with the roundworms, of 0,5-1,5 cm, and the form of contagion is trans-mammary (when taking breast milk), prenatal (in utero, the larvae can cross the placenta, the kitten will be born infected, something that does not happen in Toxocara cati) and even percutaneous, when stepping on the cat surfaces with infective larvae.

The biological cycle is the same as for Toxocara cati Except that it can not cross the placenta and its treatment, it is also the same. Again we can find paratenic hosts here: rodents, birds, worms, beetles. Eggs with infective larvae are a little less resistant than those of ascarids in the environment, but under conditions of high humidity and mild temperatures, they are stable.

Can a puppy kitten be contagious?

It is not the most likely. In fact, these ascarids have many strategies and the worst is that which occurs if the infective larvae are ingested by an adult cat with good immune status. Infective larvae pass through the intestine after hatching, but migrate through the organs of the cat’s body (larva migrate visceral): brain, heart, liver, lung, muscle and mammary gland. There they remain encysted, in latent even years, the good immune status of the cat keeps them at bay. But the gestation and then the birth, cause lowering of defenses, and the larvae “wake up”, being able to pass from the mammary gland via galactogen to the kitten. Once in it, you do not need to do all the juggling described above to become an adult, directly moving to an adult larva, having our kitten parasites active and of considerable length (from 3 to 15 cm) at three weeks of age, only for having sucked.

The hunting instinct of cats makes them constantly exposed to these parasites, because rodents or even worms can ingest eggs with infective larvae in the environment. This will use the same strategy migrating to muscle and other organs in these hosts, enquistándose then and waiting for a cat to ingest the rodent, to complete its cycle. The rodent acts in this case “Paratenic host”, the cycle stops in him, serves only as a vehicle. To top it all, the eggs of the ascarids are quite resistant in the environment, being able to remain stable months if there are acceptable humidity and temperature conditions. Porous floors are ideal (eg: sand)

Treatment of nematodes

La milbemycin oxime (in pill) is an ideal product for adults, or even the selamectina (in pipette), but in Kittens between 3 weeks to three months, the ideal is to use an albendazole or fenbendazole (in suspension) several days, since its slow but sure action causes that they get rid little by little of the parasites and do not obstruct in the intestine.

They should Deworm every two weeks from three weeks of age to three months of age and every month until they are six months old. The pomoate-like salts of pirantel or febantel are somewhat less effective, but in adequate doses can cover fairly well roundworms.

Ideally, continue with deworming every three months after six months, or more regularly if there are children and the cat goes outside, but also our veterinarian may choose to float stools from time to time and deworming in case of observing ascarid eggs.

Can nematodes affect humans?

Toxocara cati and canis can cause infection in humans by inadvertently ingesting eggs with infective larva, resulting in larva visceral migrans The Center can reach the eye. It is necessary to be careful with children and to correctly follow deworming to prevent it.

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