The roundworm is a common parasite that infects a cat's intestines and migrates to the liver, bloodstream, and lungs. Adult roundworms live in the stomach and intestine and can grow to a length of up to seven inches.
Cats can be infected in four ways:
• Through prenatal infection that occurs when larvae move through the placenta in utero (this is the most common way puppies are affected).
• From mother to kittens through mother’s milk.
• By ingesting eggs in the soil. Roundworm eggs are protected by a hard shell and can live in the soil for months or years.
• By ingesting infected animals such as rodents and birds.
In kittens, the eggs enter the mouth and travels to the stomach where larvae are carried to the lungs by the circulatory system. Once in the lungs, the larvae make their way up the windpipe and are swallowed into the intestine where they develop into adult worms.
Roundworm infections are relatively benign when compared to other intestinal parasites, however infections can become life threatening if intestinal blockage occurs. Outdoor cats are more likely to get roundworms and females expecting kittens are particularly vulnerable around the time their puppies are due. Roundworms, like all intestinal parasites, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration that will make a cat more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections and diseases.
• diarrhea with mucous
• spaghetti-like strings in a cat’s feces or vomit
• coughing leading to pneumonia
• poor growth
• loss of appetite
• distended/swollen abdomen
• dull coat
• worms in feces
Visit your vet immediately if you notice any signs indicating the presence of roundworms or any parasite. To help prevent infection, dispose of pet droppings regularly, remove contaminated soil, and rid your yard of mice and rodents that are a potential source of infection. Roundworms can infect people so protect your family by ensuring everyone washes their hands regularly, especially after contact with animal feces or other bodily fluids.