Tape Worms Cat

"Tape worms cats are a type of flatworms’ parasite. They can infest almost all types of animals, including cats. Usually a tape worm requires an intermediate host, before it can infest cats or other final hosts. The most common type of worm is spread by fleas. Tape worms do not cause any severe diseases or conditions as they only depend upon the nutrients provided by cats. They can cause weakness, fluctuating appetite, a rough coat and mild diarrhea. Diagnosis is based upon stool flotation and direct fecal examination. Different Anti–helmintics (anti-worming drugs) have been proven very effective on tape worms in cats. Prevention on other hand is a matter of the way a cat is cared for."

General Anatomy of Tape Worms Cats:

 A tape worm is comprised of a scolex (head) which has grooves at the extremity; which acts as “Suckers”. Other parts are the muscular system; which is fairly well distributed collection of nerves, collectively called “ganglion”. The Body is composed of segments called “Proglottids”; which gave the tape worm its name.  Each proglottid can reproduce itself individually, as it contains a reproductive system. Excretion (reproduction) is based upon what is called a “flame cell phenomenon”.

A tape worm can appear and grow from 15 centimeters to a few meters, depending upon the specie of worm and the conditions provided by the cat. 

Different Species of Tape Worms Cats:

Different genus of tape worms can infest cats.  Some important types of tape worms found in cats are, Dipylidium; Dipylidium canium; which is the most common and famous specie of this genus; which is intermediated (spread) by cat fleas. 

This specie of tape worm completes part of the lifecycle in a flea, and then is released into a cat's intestines; if fleas are ingested by cats during grooming. They then reproduce in the gastrointestinal tract, with worm segments  released in the feces.  These species look like grains of rice. Once they get dried, the worms are ingested by fleas and the lifecycle repeats itself, leaving cats with signs the worms.

Taenia; T. Taeniformis and T. Pisiformis are two species of this genus; which usually infests cats. These may be transmitted to cats by eating small rodents i.e. rats or mice. The Lifecycle is similar to that of dipylidum, except that the intermediate host is a small rodent instead of a flea.

Spirometra; S. Mansonoides is the only important specie of this genus, causing gastrointestinal problems in cats. These are intermediated by small rodents, snakes and amphibians.

Echinococcus; E. multilocularis is most common specie, causing worm infestation in cats; this specie too is intermediated by small rodents, but humans can also be  carriers for this specie and play a role in the completion of the lifecycle.

Signs & Symptoms of Tape Worms Cats:

Tape worms in cats rarely cause severe diseases or clinical signs. Disease onset and progression depends upon the degree of worm infestation, age, physical condition and breed of cat.  Young and aged cats are more susceptible. Similarly potentially weak and lethargic cats are more likley to be infested.  Infestatiaon also depends upon the habits of a cat.  Cats, which like outdoors more or like preying, even if they are fed commercial food, are also more susceptible.

Clinical signs are mostly  described as weakness, lethargy, roughness of coat and variable appetite. Cats may experience uneasiness and discomfort; while mild diarrhea is also  possible as a result of a severe infestation.

Diagnosis of Tape Worms Cats:

Clinical signs and history in many cases is never helpful, as feline tape worm symptoms are relatively generalized signs, but some points like flea infestation, outdoor activities etc. can help in suspecting tape worms as the problem in cats.

A stool flotation technique is considered best for making a confirmatory diagnosis, in which eggs and segments of tape worms can be isolated and are then studied directly under the microscope.

Treatment of Tape Worms Cats:

Use of prescribed Anti–helmintics (anti-worm medication) by a qualified veterinarian is considered a best practice to control tape worms in cats. Different species can be controlled by different drugs, like Praziquantel and Pyrantel; which are considered drugs of choice.  The are administred with a single dose of 35mg/Kg B.W per oral, in controlling species of Dipylidium. Flea control is essential for an effective and rapid recovery.

Similarly, species of Spirometra in cats can be treated with a single dose of praziquantel at a  rate of 30mg/Kg B.W; (body weight) if administered orally.

Species of Taenia and Echinococcus, can be treated effectively by fenbendazole, flubendazole or praziquantel. The dose rate and route of administration is usually calculated depending upon the severity of the infestation.

A homeopathic remedy deisgned ot expel internal parasites such as Parasite Dr.
may be of help as well.  Ingredients such as Wormwood, Neem and Cloves all can help by supporting the digestive system and discouraging pests.

Prevention of Tape worms in Cats:

Tape worms can be prevented by controlling flea infestations, keeping cats mostly in the house, especially in the rainy and humid seasons. Cats must also be prevented from preying or eating rodents or small prey.

If cat flea infestations are a problem, both the cat and the cat's environment needs to be treated.  A popular approach is offered by Dermisil, which offers a kit that includes safe products for removing fleas from the cat as well as for removing fleas from the home.


The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health

D. Shearer, Veterinary Entomology; Illustrated (Springer. 1997)