Home Remedies for Cat Tapeworms: if you suspect your cat got tapeworms, you likely have noticed some rice-like “worms” on your cat’s stool or favorite sleeping spots. Some claim that the “worms” look like little cucumber or sesame seeds, especially when they are dry, others confuse them for maggots. Maggots though do not crawl out of a cat’s bottom and they have a different appearance. There are several home remedies for tapeworms in cats, but the most effective is using the right type of dewormer along with preventive care. In this article we will be looking at the most effective home remedies to prevent further tapeworm infestations and how to choose the right product to get rid of tapeworms in cats.
Signs of Tapeworms in Cats
The most common sign of tapeworms in cats, as mentioned, is the presence of rice-like segments that are expelled from the cat’s bottom. These segments (known as proglottids) may look like worms, but in reality they are not. They are simply egg sacs that, once out of the cat’s bottom, dry out. The real tapeworm is actually securely attached to the cat’s intestine wall and periodically expels these egg sacs to reproduce. Other than seeing rice-like segments, other signs of tapeworms in cats are excessive licking of the cat’s bottom, and scooting, where the cat drags his itchy bottom across the carpet to get relief. Tapeworms are generally not detected in a fecal test examination, unless the segments are visibly attached to the stool sample.
Home Remedies for Tapeworms in Cats
Some dog and cat owners report to have killed parasites in their pets using food grade diatomaceous earth. However, from our experience the results seem to poor or transient, especially when preventive measures for future reinfestations are not taken. There are several things you can do at home to get rid of tapeworms in cats. As mentioned, your best bet is using the proper type of dewormer. Using any over-the-counter dewormer will not work as you will need a specific one as outlined below.
Get Rid of Fleas
What do fleas have to do with tapeworms? Turns out, a whole lot. Fleas are the tapeworm’s intermediate hosts, meaning that they temporarily play a role in the tapeworm’s developmental stages. In order to get tapeworms, a cat must ingest an infected flea, which is fairly easy if you look at your cat’s grooming habits. After about 2 to 3 weeks, the tapeworm will mature and start to shed segments full of eggs from the cat’s bottom which are then readily ingested by flea larvae in the environment, causing the life cycle to continue. Putting the cat on a good monthly flea product and killing the flea eggs and larvae in the environment using insect growth regulators, can help keep cats from getting re-infected with tapeworm.
Prevent Access to Critters
While fleas are the most common intermediate hosts for the common tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum), there is another type of tapeworm belonging to the Taenia species which uses rabbits and rodents as intermediate hosts. If your cat catches and eats tapeworm infected mice, there are chances he is getting much more than a snack. Once ingested, the eggs will hatch and a new tapeworm matures, giving life to a new life cycle. Preventing access to these critters, can help keep cats from getting re-infected with tapeworms.
Keep Children Safe
The ugly part of the tapeworm cycle is that it can affect humans too, in particular children, given the right circumstances. The process is similar as seen in cats. Should a child ingest an infected flea, the tapeworm establishes in that child’s small intestine and parents would soon find tapeworm segments in the child’s diaper. While the presence of tapeworms in children induce only mild symptoms, mostly confined to the child’s intestinal tract, it can be an overall distressing experience to the affected families, explains veterinarian Susan E. Little, with the
Department of Veterinary Pathobiology.
Use the Right Dewormer
While keeping fleas and other critters away help cats from getting re-infected, what steps can a cat owner take to kill the tapeworm inside the cat in the first place? It takes the right dewormer. Most over-the-counter cat dewormers aim to kill roundworms, but won’t do a thing for tapeworms. To get fully rid of this opportunistic parasite, you will need a dewormer containing praziquantrel. The good news is that this active ingredients works for both types of tapeworms, those using fleas as intermediate hosts and those using mice.
While one dewormer treatment usually works in killing tapeworms, some veterinarians may recommend a second treatment of praziquantel two weeks after the first treatment, as cat owners work on eradicating the flea population. Getting rid of cat tapeworms for good and preventing them from reoccurring therefore requires a multifaceted approach. If a cat or dog ingests an infected flea the day after the tapeworm dewormer, you’ll be back to square one as the tapeworm life cycle starts all over again, explains veterinarian Dr. Scott.