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Read About Are Tapeworms Contagious

Your cat has been diagnosed with a tapeworm, and now you´re wondering if you can catch it from your cat. Don´t worry, it´s very difficult to get a tapeworm from your cat. In fact, just about the only way to get a tapeworm from your cat is if you eat a flea. It is possible for children to become infected by them in this method, but this is not very common. Cats primarily carry the tapeworm called Dipylidium caninum. The tapeworm Echinococcus is a problem for people, but only in areas with foxes and coyotes, and the rodents on which they prey. Cats and dogs can be diseased by eating infected rodents, and tapeworm eggs passed in the feces can infect humans with a serious and potentially fatal disease. Taenia is a species of tapeworms transmitted to people in contaminated undercooked meat.

You have probably seen the tapeworms either dried in the hair around the anus or where your cat was sleeping, or as little, white rice–looking worms on the cat´s feces. What makes us nauseas is that kitty is sleeping on our bed, and those little worms are crawling out while kitty sleeps -- gross!

The adult tapeworm is several inches in length. It is a segmented worm and attaches by mouthparts to the lining of the small intestine and absorbs the nutrients the kitty is supposed to absorb. Tiny segments (proglottids) of the worm break off, come out usually on the feces as white, rice–looking things that move. Often this will precipitate "scooting" on the anus or a quick licking reaction. The segments dry up into little yellow crusty specks you may find stuck in the hair around the anal area. Flea larvae eat these, larva turns into a flea and then the cat (or dog) eats the flea and here we go again.

Unlike Brian (the talking dog on "Family Guy" tv show), the treatment doesn´t cost $300! One little pill of Droncit, Drontal or Cestex will cause the tapeworms to lose protective coating and be digested inside the intestine.

One pill will do the trick, but if you don´t control your pet´s flea problem, you will see repeated episodes of tapeworms. You need to use topical or oral flea treatments; and premise treatment with a residual larvicide is needed.

Also, don´t forget to wash the bedding in hot, soapy water to get rid of the yucky stuff. By the way, if there are tapeworms in the cat´s bedding, there are flea eggs and larva in there also. Have I sufficiently turned your stomach? You can get rid of these pests with persistence!

Sharon E. Anderson, DVM

Sharon E. Anderson, DVM, answers medically-related questions, but will not attempt to diagnose or recommend specific treatments. Her advice is not meant to replace professional care. If your pet is ill, contact your veterinarian immediately.