Tapeworms live in the intestines and are probably the most common parasites seen in adult cats.

Before transmission to the cat, they require an intermediate host during the larval stage. Lice and fleas are common hosts and based on a cat’s constant grooming habits, it’s very probable that at least one flea harboring immature tapeworms will be ingested.

Tapeworms can also be acquired by a cat eating raw meat or raw freshwater fish. Outdoor cats who hunt routinely can also be exposed through their prey.

A tapeworm attaches itself to the intestinal wall by way of suckers and hooks on its head. The body is comprised of segments and each one contains eggs. These segments break off and then are passed out of the body in the cats’ feces. The segments are about a quarter-inch in length and can wriggle by themselves when freshly separated from the worm. You may notice one or two moving segments clinging to the hair around your cat’s anus. When the segments dry, they look similar to grains of rice. These dried segments may be found on your cat’s bedding.

If you happen to notice tapeworm segments, your vet will administer a deworming pill or injection specifically for tapeworms.

It’s important to known that if your cat does have tapeworms, then it more than likely means that there are fleas on her as well. Be sure to combine the deworming with a comprehensive flea control program to prevent a reappearance of the parasite. Even if you don’t notice any tapeworm segments on your cat or in the environment, if there is a significant flea problem, there’s a chance she could also have tapeworms.

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