A feline tapeworm is most often treated using one dose of a medication called Praziquantel. This medication is available over the counter at pet supply stores. In addition to treating the tapeworm infection, it is important to review flea control protections for the cat before treatment.
While cats can get tapeworms from eating rodents that are infected, in most instances cats get tapeworms by ingesting an infected flea. As this is the likely cause of the feline tapeworm, the cat should be examined for fleas and treated with a reliable flea control product before Praziquantel is administered. Praziquantel will end a feline tapeworm infection but will not protect against future infection. This is why flea control should be practiced before the medication is administered.
Praziquantel was once available only with a veterinarian’s prescription. It is important that the over-the-counter medication is for cats specifically and that dog tapeworm medications are not used on felines. The medication should not be used on kittens younger than six weeks old. For treatment of young kittens, a veterinarian should be consulted about a feline tapeworm infection.
If a cat has fleas, it is likely the cat also has tapeworms. As fecal testing often doesn’t reveal the presence of tapeworms, it is often recommended that a cat with fleas be treated for tapeworms. In most instances, owners will become aware of a feline tapeworm infection when they notice white or yellow rice-like segments around their cat’s anus or in their cat’s stool.
Once the cat swallows an infected flea, the egg of the tapeworm inside the flea hatches. The tapeworm then attaches to the cat’s intestines and develops into an adult. It begins to produce egg-filled segments that leave the cat’s body through the anus.
Prevention of feline tapeworm is twofold. A strict flea control program, one using a veterinarian-recommended flea control product, is the top priority. Secondly, keep the cat indoors so that it doesn’t have the opportunity to ingest an infected rodent.
In some instances, a feline tapeworm infection may lead to nutritional deficiencies, but for the most part tapeworms cause few health-related concerns. Beyond the presence of fleas or segments of the tapeworm, there are few to no symptoms to alert a cat owner that the pet may be infected. In rare instances, pet owners may notice the cat losing weight if there is a large amount of the parasites in the cat’s intestines. Some cats may scoot on their bottom if the presence of the segments is causing irritation. The cat may also, through rarely, vomit an adult tapeworm.