Worms are a well-known problem that is familiar to almost all pet owners. It is sad, but it’s almost impossible to protect your pets from this scourge. They can become infected whenever and wherever. In the end, parasite eggs often fall into the apartment on your own clothes and shoes. In addition, some types of helminths spread through fleas (cucumber tapeworm), and it is even more difficult to protect the animal from them. A relatively common sign of infection is worms in a cat in the feces.
Can you always see the worms in the feces?
Contrary to popular belief, this is by no means obtained in all cases. Relatively often it is possible to see more or less large parasitic nematodes. But that too occurs only in cases where the degree of helminthic invasion is really serious.
Occasionally, dead parasites can come out of the intestines of an animal, but still this happens infrequently. In addition, the bodies of the worms are usually half dissolved, since after their death, the mechanisms that protect the parasite from the action of digestive enzymes no longer work.
Where more often you can see only a small amount of mucus in the feces. As you can understand, this feature is also difficult to attribute to the category of characteristic.
Interestingly, one study by American veterinarians showed that about a third (!) Of all the cats examined had roundworm eggs in their feces. And this is most likely far from the limit, since not in all cases the eggs of the worms in the feces can be detected.
Another thing is some varieties of cestodes. For example, cucumber tapeworm, which we have already mentioned. The fact is that flat parasitic worms have one important feature. Every day small segments, segments come off from their body. The biological meaning of this "procedure" is that each of the fragments is jam-packed with parasite eggs. They can often be seen in the feces. And not only, unfortunately.
Features of the life cycle of flat worms
The fact is that cestode segments are not just “baskets” for eggs. Rather, they are self-propelled delivery vehicles. What does it mean? Everything is simple - fragments of bodies of parasites can independently move. The movement is due to spontaneous contraction of muscle fibers. During the movement, they squeeze out eggs from themselves, dotting them with everything around. And such a joint can be anywhere.
Cases are described when such "containers" crawled six or even eight meters! If your cat has a habit of sleeping on the edge of your bed, you may well come across such a “gift” right on your pillow. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you often bring your pet to the veterinarian.
I would also like to note that the worms of a cat in the feces do not always look the way they think about it: whole worms (which we have already talked about) are rarely found.
More often in the feces of the animal you can see whitish-yellowish fragments of the bodies of worms.
The segments of cucumber tapeworm are very similar to cucumber seeds (in fact, the name of the parasite comes from this). Thus, in cases where you see something unusual in the feces of your pet, it is very advisable to show it to the veterinarian. It is not forbidden to even take the fragment that caused your embarrassment, or a sample of feces. In this case, it will be much easier for a specialist to establish whether your pet has worms.
Kittens and parasitic worms
Helminthiases always have a bad effect on animal health, but kittens suffer the worst infection. The younger your sick pet, the harder it will be. The fact is that growing kittens need decent amounts of nutrients. In case of helminthic invasion, most of them are "stolen" by parasites. So much so that for the needs of a kitten there is practically nothing left.
Moreover, the thickness of the mucous membrane in the intestines of the baby is very small (when compared with the digestive tract of adult animals), which dramatically increases the risk of perforation of the walls of the organ. Because of this, in the feces of kittens suffering from some kind of parasitic disease, worms themselves are rarely seen, but even the most inexperienced breeder can detect abundant impurities of blood and mucus.
Worst of all, babies can be infected from the moment they are born. How is this possible? It's all about breast milk. Many species of round parasitic worms can infect animals through it. In rare cases, intrauterine infection is possible.
It should be noted that even with the appearance of mucus and blood in the feces of a kitten, a test for worm eggs can be negative. This happens because even sexually mature individuals of the worms do not immediately begin to breed. But the kitten does not get any easier from this: even second stage larvae (re-migrated from the lungs) can cause a lot of problems.
Since you cannot see the larvae with the naked eye, it is better to focus on the deterioration of the appearance of your little pet, on constant episodes of diarrhea, alternating with constipation (similar symptoms, however, occur from dry food).
Sick kittens almost always develop a pear-shaped figure: the abdomen is swollen and makes a misleading impression that the animal is full and well-fed, but in fact it is not.
If you feel his chest, you can easily feel the protruding rows of ribs.
What kind of worms can be seen in feces
Note that in the feces you can see fragments or whole bodies of only two types of parasitic worms: nematodes or cestodes.
Trematodes, in the "common people" called "flukes", most often live in the bile ducts of the liver, remaining in them throughout their lives. Accordingly, only their eggs enter the feces, but not the parasites themselves.
When such a worm dies, its body quickly dissolves with bile (which in itself is an extremely caustic and aggressive "reagent"). So that white worms in feces are more likely an exception to the rule.
Why are parasites so rarely seen "in all its glory"? It's all about the adaptive mechanisms that have developed over millions of years of evolution. In particular, nematodes have sharp teeth and sufficiently powerful jaws. They not only can easily bite off pieces from the mucous membranes and even the walls of the intestine, but also hold onto them if necessary.
In addition, parasites of this type have a very "muscular" body and are able to quickly and energetically move in semi-digested food masses, avoiding "ejection" from the host body.
But the cestodes went much further in protecting them from "eviction." The body of each worm starts from a head called a scolex. It is she - the growth point, from which new segments are constantly growing to replace the detached ones. And it is precisely the scolex that also plays the role of a reliable "anchor", due to which the body of the parasite is held in the lumen of the intestine of a sick animal.
Fastening is provided by hooks and / or suction cups. It is for this reason that it is the most difficult to treat helminthic diseases caused by cestodes. It is necessary not only to stun the worm, as is the case with the destruction of nematodes, but to kill its scolex. Otherwise, no matter what you do, after some time the parasite will recover safely. In especially severe cases, one even has to resort to surgical intervention, since it is not always possible to treat a cat with medical methods.
Why is it necessary to take the cat to the veterinarian sooner?
Many breeders, especially those living in rural areas, are surprisingly "frivolous" about the fact that their pets are infected with helminths. Some consider them an inevitable evil. And indeed, at first glance, the body of physically strong cats worms and in fact does not bring visible harm. But in fact, this is far from the case.
Parasites are an inexhaustible source of toxins. Even after death, their bodies secrete a lot of substances that do not contribute to the health of the cat. Especially hard is her liver, kidneys and brain. The latter, by the way, swells and swells under the influence of toxins, which can lead to neurological seizures. But, however, it rarely comes to this.
Many common parasite species (especially those from roundworms) breed quite intensively. In young animals and kittens, their unbridled reproduction ends poorly: the bodies of the nematodes tightly clog the gaps of the intestines, which subsequently simply burst, not withstanding the internal pressure.
What to do: treatment and prevention
Only prevention can more or less reliably protect a cat from such a sad outcome. It consists in the purchase of only high-quality feed from trusted manufacturers. It is necessary to take your pet to the veterinarian at least once a quarter so that he takes samples of feces and checks for the presence of worm eggs. The sooner treatment is started, the less damage the cat’s health will be.
If you live in an area where the intensity of helminthic infestations is high (especially in the southern part of our country), it is necessary to treat your pets with preventive doses of anthelmintic in the spring and summer periods. Their dosage must be negotiated with a specialist.
In the event that you notice at least some signs of helminthic infestation in your pet, you should immediately contact your veterinarian. Some of the parasites are the causes of diseases not only of animals, but also of their owners. Worms can pose a special danger to the health of children and the elderly, since their immune system can not cope with infection.