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Cats + Parasites

  • This handout outlines common internal parasites in cats. Included are parasites of the gastrointestinal tract (roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms), as well as parasites of the circulatory system (heartworms). How each of these parasites can affect your cat and what you can do to prevent or treat infection are explained.

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of cats after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the cat’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected cats can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from cats to humans.

  • Metronidazole is given by mouth or injection and is used off-label to treat certain anaerobic bacterial and protozoal infections and gastrointestinal conditions in dogs, cats, and other animals. Give as directed. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, regurgitation, decreased appetite, tiredness, and drooling. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it, are debilitated, or are pregnant or nursing. If a negative reaction occurs, contact your veterinarian.

  • Moxidectin and fluralaner are combined in one topical treatment for use in cats. Moxidectin topical is an avermectin antiparasitic that is used to prevent heartworms and treat intestinal parasites (hookworms and roundworms). Fluralaner is used to treat and prevent fleas and also kills black-legged ticks (deer ticks). Give as directed. Side effects are uncommon but may include hair loss at the application site, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, excessive drooling, and dry skin. Moxidectin + fluralaner should not be used in pets that are hypersensitive or allergic to it. Do not use this medication in sick, debilitated, or underweight cats. Use caution in cats with known neurologic disorders. If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

  • Moxidectin is an avermectin antiparasitic that is used to prevent heartworms and treat intestinal parasites. Imidacloprid treats and prevents fleas. These two drugs are combined in one topical product for use in cats, dogs, and ferrets. Use as directed. Side effects are uncommon and usually short-lived, however, if you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately.

  • The American Animal Hospital Association and American Veterinary Medical Association have established guidelines to standardize preventive health care for cats, helping them to live longer, healthier lives. This handout provides an overview of the recommendations within these guidelines and why they are so important.

  • Ringworm infections in cats are caused by a fungus, not a worm. They can be easily recognized, though definitive testing by fungal culture is recommended. Ringworm is highly contagious and can be spread between animals and from animals to people. The clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and risks are explained in this handout.

  • Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites observed in cats. Almost all cats will become infected with roundworms at some point in their life, most often as kittens. Roundworms are not particularly harmful to adult cats, but large numbers may cause life-threatening problems in kittens and debilitated older cats. Roundworms can also be transmitted to humans. Diagnostic testing, treatment, and preventive measures are explained in this handout.

  • Tapeworms are parasites that infect the gastrointestinal tract of cats, other animals, and humans. Several types of tapeworms are known to infect pets, but the most common species observed in cats is Dipylidium caninum, which is transmitted through fleas. Risk factors, clinical signs, treatment, and prevention are explained in this handout. Other, less common types of tapeworms that affect cats and humans are also covered.

  • Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their host and can in turn transmit diseases to your cat or even you. They are prolific breeders and their life cycles can extend through multiple seasons. Prompt removal or use of preventatives limit or prevent the spread of disease, or kill the ticks.

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Pet Health Library

Royal City Paws Pet Centre is pleased to provide a library of professionally written articles updated by practice experts.