Cat Hookworms

"Cat Hookworms are intestinal parasites, that are more common in dogs than cats. An infestation can be fatal in most cases. Different species of Ancylostoma and Uncinaria genus can infest cats and cause anemia, weakness, dullness and sudden death in kittens. Retarded growth is noted in recovered kittens. In the laboratory, a fecal flotation technique can reveal the presence of hoodworm eggs and confirmation the diagnosis. Treatment can be done with broad spectrum anti-helmintics. Additional support can be provided by supplementation with minerals and vitamins as required for the the restoration of the cat's physiology (body condition). Natural remedies can also be an effect way to support the cat's physiology."

Cat Hookworms: Pathogenesis and Transmission:

In cats, a hookworm infestation is considered comparatively uncommon, but if it occurs, it can cause chronic damage to the health of the cat. Different species of the genus Ancylostoma and Uncinaria can cause a pathological condition in cats. Hookworms can be transmitted several different ways such as:

  1. From mother to foetus or unborn kitten
  2. Through direct contact with the skin, the larvae then penetrates into the skin.
  3. By ingesting the feline hookworms through the mouth via contaminated water or food

Once the eggs and/or larvae enter into the body, they don't immediately cause acute digestive infestation, but roam in the blood stream, where the worms develop into an advanced stages of larvae. Once developed the cat hookworms enter into the lungs. Once in the lungs they are coughed up, and at last enter into the digestive tract. This procedure usually takes 15 – 20 days.

In the digestive tract, with help of hook like teeth the hookworms attach themselves to the epithelial wall of the intestine and suck blood and other nutrients, resulting in clinical symptoms.

Symptoms of Cat Hookworms:

As cat hook worms suck blood from the final host (cat), they causes anemia as a major symptom. Anemia may be unnoticeable during its initial stages, but as the worms grow and lay eggs, progressive anemia with symptoms of dullness in the coat, paleness in the gums and weakness is exhibited.

In the advanced stages of the disease, diarrhea which has a black dark tarry appearance may occur. It may also contains large amounts of digested blood. Severe infection is thus characterized by anorexia (appetite loss), emaciation, and chronic diarrhea with other signs of generalized illness.

Kittens with hookworm may die without showing any symptoms while those that recover may experience retarded growth. Even repeated supportive measures may not restore the kittne's body condition.

cat hookworms
Cat Hookworm Picture

Diagnosis of Feline Hookworms:

Symptoms such as diarrhea and anemia with the progressive loss of body condition can help in making a diagnosis. Confirmation is done with a fecal flotation technique in the laboratory. Eggs of feline hookworms appear thin shelled and oval in shape. In kittens, if the infection has been transmitted through the placenta, fecal examination may not be helpful as eggs are only revealed when the kitten is at least after 4 weeks of age.

Treatment of Cat Hookworms:

Different with antihelmintic drugs such as flubendazole, mebendazole, milbemycin, pyrantel or selamectin are effective in the elimination of hookworms in cats. Though all of mentioned drugs require a prescription.

In addition to a prescription medication, additional support can be helpful to overcome the symptoms of anemia and emaciation. Mineral and vitamin supplementation can be helpful. Diarrhea should only be treated by specific anti diarrheal drugs. Homeopathic products such as Parasite Dr. Capsules can also be helpful in restoring a cats physiology. 

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The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health (Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health (Home Edition))

Centers for Disease Control

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