Cynthia is a pet owner and animal lover. From cats and dogs to livestock animals, Cynthia loves caring for her pets.
How to Know if a Cat Has Parasites
As pet owners, we all worry about the health of our animals. At times, despite our best efforts, our pets fall victim to a parasite infection.
Cats are prone to several different parasitic infections that can cause serious health issues and even death. If left unchecked, it is also possible for our feline companions to transfer those parasites to their owners.
Understanding the warning signs and symptoms of a parasite infection or infestation can save the life of your cat. Catching these parasitic infections early on is key to a fast recovery.
Some parasites involve no visible infection: they cannot be seen, so your cat's behavior is your only signal that something is wrong. Since humans can suffer a infestation from intestinal worms, paying attention to your cat's normal and not-so-normal behavior is a must.
1. The Cat Is Lazy, Sleepy, or Lethargic
Cats are a wonderful pet that can be bursting with energy. Or at times cats want nothing more than to sit in a window and nap all day. Understanding what is normal 'lazy' behavior for you cat is important. How else will you be able to tell if your pet is lethargic? Here are a few examples of lethargy in cats:
An early warning sign of a parasitic infection may mean your feline companion is underactive, or just slightly less active than normal. He or she maybe just walking and moving slower than normal. Another sign is watching for inactive behavior. Laying about as if lifeless due to a feeling of general malaise. All can be a sign of a parasitic infection and should be taken seriously.
It is important to note that cats tend to be nocturnal. So napping throughout the day is not uncommon for your cat. So watching behavior between naps may give you a better idea if they are acting out of character.
2. Weight Issues Involving Sudden Loss of Weight
Noticing a change in our pet's weight may be a warning sign to a parasite infection. Here are a few symptoms to watch out for:
- Young cats and kittens that are not gaining weight appropriately.
- Drastic weight loss in adult cats.
- Failure to gain or maintain weight.
- Increased appetite, with no weight gain.
A cat's weight can tell you a lot about their health. A drastic drop in the weight of an adult cat generally points to a parasite. Though it can be as simple as needing to alter the food we are feeding our cat. It is always a good idea either way to keep an eye on the weight of your cat. No matter if they are a kitten or a senior.
It is not uncommon for a cat to have and increased appetite and start eating more without weight gain if a parasitic infection is involved. Monitoring your pet's food intake and weight together will help you determine if they have a possible parasite.
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3. Dull Fur and Hair Loss
Another telltale sign of a parasitic infection in a cat is directly related to their fur. As parasites have a free for all on the inside the outside appearance of our cats will suffer. These hair related warning signs include:
- Dull fur, appearing less shiny and healthy than usual.
- Excessive hair loss, more than associated with shedding.
- Thinning sections of hair, possible bald patches.
These are all concerns that may point to a parasite infection. Though they can also point to other issues, all need to be taken seriously. A dull or lackluster coat seemingly overnight can point to a parasite issue. Any hair loss amounting to more than regular shedding is also a cause for concern. In extreme cases of parasite infections your cat may loose large patches of hair, and have bald spots.
4. Constipation, Diarrhea, and Bowel Movement Issues
Okay, everybody poops, and so do our pets. It may not be something any of us enjoy dealing with but when our cats 'do their business' it can tell us a lot about their health. Here are some bowel related issues to watch for:
- Intermittent diarrhea
- Blood in stool
- Difficulty urinating
Intermittent diarrhea coupled with occasional constipation are usually telltale signs of a parasite infection. Noticing blood in a cat's stool is cause for concern and needs to be taken very seriously. Difficulty urinating maybe something you miss, after all we don't usually follow our felines to the litter box. If you notice your cat seeming to stay in the litter box longer than normal, but only producing little or no urine it is cause for concern.
How to Confirm a Parasite Infection
Now that you know what the warning signs are, you may have noticed your cat experiencing some symptoms. Here are several ways to confirm a parasite infection in your cat:
- Contact your local veterinarian office for an appointment.
- Collect a fecal sample at home, and mail to a laboratory for testing.
There are many options available for confirming a parasite infection. Taking your pet for a checkup to your veterinarians office is a good idea. Though there are alternatives to a costly vet visit available. You can now purchase a home testing kit of sorts. Collect a small fecal sample and mail it directly to a lab. You will receive results in 24 hours after the sample arrives at the lab.
How to Test Your Cat for Parasites
I keep a home kit available for parasite testing. At times it is very difficult to get into the veterinarian's office on short notice. Living in a rural area myself, I have no vet office nearby. Not to mention the cost of an office visit as well as a fecal test can run extremely high. Keeping a home testing kit on hand means all I need to do is follow the instructions and obtain a fecal sample and send it in the mail for testing. Once I receive my results I can take appropriate measures to treat the specific parasite infection my cat has.
If you have multiple cats it is recommended to treat them all for a parasite infection if one of them tests positive. Parasites are easily transferred between cats, and can even be passed to humans. Catching the infection and taking appropriate measures can mean saving your pets life and avoiding an infection yourself.
Sources and Further Reading
- Lethargic cat? Here is why you need a vet ASAP | Cloud 9 Vets
It is possibly symptomatic of a serious illness? Or perhaps laziness? Here's everything you need to know about having a lethargic cat.
- Subtle Signs of Sickness | The Cat Hospital
This page assists cat owners in recognizing signs of sickness including inappropriate urination and defecation, changes in social interaction, sleeping habits or eating habits, weight gain or loss, and other feline behaviors that warrant treatment.
- 6 Most Common Cat Health Problems | WebMD
Do you know some of the most common health problems your cat faces? WebMD describes the 6 most common problems.
- Internal Parasites in Cats | VCA Animal Hospital
This handout is designed to give you an overview of some of the internal parasites that can infect your cat. Intestinal worms can be a serious problem in young kittens. Heartworm disease is a major life-threatening problem in dogs, and is increasingl
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: How are cats' parasitic infections treated?
Answer: Treatment is usually done by administering an oral medication or an injection in some cases.
Question: What is a normal temperature for a cat?
Answer: The normal body temperature ranges for a cat are between 99.5-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Question: Can parasite infections cause breathing problems in a cat? How long do cats need to be treated for a parasitic infection before there is any improvement?
Answer: Absolutely a cat can even have lungworm a serious parasite that can damage the lungs and cause breathing issues. When dealing with this you should seek advice from your local veterinarian. Lungworm can be life-threatening especially in old cats, and kittens or any cats that have a weaker immune system. It is one of those parasites that can often be hard to diagnose so please if you feel that your cat has a sudden onset of respiratory trouble seek treatment with a reputable vet.
Jeanette on August 06, 2018:
Why is my cat not the same he is not eating drinking anything and he wont move he just layes there staring straight and wont move at all and breathing fast and has a bad oder coming from his mouth