Two different types of roundworms have various life cycles.
Cats are infected with the roundworm species Toxocara cati and Toxascara leonina. Both are round and up to four inches long. Their hues range from white to light brown (they look similar to spaghetti noodles). T. cati consumption by humans may potentially result in health problems.
Similar to hookworms and tapeworms, roundworms are intestinal parasites that are common in cats and other animals. They enter a cat’s intestines and devour the nutrients from the cat’s diet there.
Symptoms of roundworms in cats
Roundworm eggs are found when studying a feces sample under a microscope (the test process is called fecal flotation). When adult roundworms are discovered in feces or vomit, the diagnosis may occasionally be made more quickly.
The medical term for a roundworm-infected is ascariasis.
The following signs and symptoms may only appear in cases of extreme infestations, but they can be brought on by either kind of roundworm:
- No weight increase or loss results in a lackluster coating of hair.
- An unflattering belly adult worms in vomit or feces (usually in kittens)
- Coughing caused induced by the lung migration of the larvae
In extremely rare instances, severe infections may cause intestinal blockage, which can make a kitten pretty unwell with vomiting and lethargy as the main symptoms.
Although the two varieties of roundworms look identical and behave similarly, their life cycles are different.
The Life Cycle of Roundworms
Toxocara cati is frequently seen, particularly in kittens who can absorb larvae through their mother’s milk. If cats or kittens eat rodents or other T. cati-infected carriers like beetles or earthworms, they may eat eggs. The eggs then hatch into larvae inside the cat’s digestive system.
With toxicarsis leonina, it happens significantly less frequently and more commonly in older cats (and dogs). Rarely does T. leonina infect humans.
Compared to T. cati, T. leonina has a more simpler life cycle. The roundworms develop into adult roundworms from the eggs that are expelled in the stool and then go on to lay more eggs (migration is not necessary). The eggs are not contagious until they have been exposed to the environment for days or weeks. Rodents may also be infected by T. leonina larvae, and cats may become ill after eating an infected mouse.
Cause of cats’ roundworms
Cats can ingest roundworm larvae from eggs, mother’s milk, or by eating other live things like beetles or rodents. The roundworm larvae move through the body tissues until they reach the lungs, where they proceed to the windpipe, where they are coughed up, and finally swallowed. Included in this are the larvae that are consumed and ingested as eggs and then hatch.
This time, the larvae are ingested and develop into adult roundworms in the intestines. These lay a lot of eggs, which are expelled simultaneously with the feces. Eggs are not contagious until they have been in the environment for two to four weeks. The disease will continue to spread for months or years thanks to the eggs’ resistance.
The liver is where the larvae periodically stop migrating and become latent. When a female is pregnant, these larvae come back to life and may even be secreted in the milk after giving birth. They can also lead to the development of an active adult roundworm infection in the mother’s intestines, which prompts her to discharge a significant amount of eggs that can also infect the kittens. The life cycle of roundworms, in particular T. cati, makes infection of kittens quite successful.
The course of treatment is the same regardless of the type of roundworm implicated. Roundworms can be treated with a variety of medications, and your veterinarian can assist you in determining which one is best for your cat. To treat any leftover larvae as they emerge, however, the drugs must be taken again every two to three weeks because they only kill adult roundworms. To establish how many treatments are needed, your veterinarian will assess the issue and the cat’s age.
If you have a pregnant cat, seek guidance from your veterinarian on how to deworm the mother and kittens. Consult your veterinarian about these possibilities. After deworming, several monthly treatments for heartworm and parasite control include medications that may continue to prevent roundworm infections. Additionally, worm infestation can be avoided by promptly cleaning up pet waste and discouraging animals from eating rodents.
Techniques for Preventing Roundworms
However, cat waste can transmit roundworm from cat to cat. Kittens and cats who spend time outside or who interact with outdoor cats are more likely to contract roundworm. Getting roundworms from a mouse or bug that gets inside is pretty uncommon, though it’s not impossible. Keeping cats inside, therefore, is a crucial protectant.
Once roundworm has been found, it is crucial to strictly follow the veterinarian’s instructions. Then again:
- Make sure to clean the litter boxes on a regular basis.
- While your cat is receiving therapy, make sure to regularly clean every surface.
- Always keep pets, kids, and other animals away from cat waste.
- Keep up good hygiene.
While kittens should have their roundworms examined numerous times a year, adults only need to have theirs checked once or twice a year. The best way for your veterinarian to identify roundworms is by looking at a stool sample.
How Cat Roundworms Can Infect Humans
From their larvae, humans and cats can catch T. cati roundworms. This happens when eggs are consumed. Because they do not always wash their hands correctly and may, for example, pick up eggs on their hands when playing in the yard, children are most prone to contract it. Good hygiene is essential. Kids should routinely wash their hands and cats should be kept out of places where kids play. Naturally, sandboxes provide a special problem. Additionally, it’s important to pick up pet waste on a regular basis.
Even while human roundworm larvae do not develop into adults, their migration through the tissues can nevertheless result in inflammation, especially in newborn infants. Although most cases are not dangerous, the larvae can sometimes enter the eyes and cause blindness and other visual abnormalities as well as organ damage to the liver, lungs, and brain.
“Visceral larva migrans” refers to roundworm larvae that move through human tissues, while “ocular larva migrans” refers to larvae that move to the eyes. If you wish to prevent these problems with human health, it is essential to adequately prevent a roundworm infection.
READ NEXT: Ringworm in Cats
CAT HEALTH & WELLNESS
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your family pet, know the pet’s health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.
Wondering about Skin Cancer in Cats? Check it out on our latest post!