You do everything you can to protect your beloved feline -- after all, she is a part of your family. Even though you keep her inside and get her regular checkups, she may still wind up with a roundworm infestation. If Trixy is showing certain symptoms, she'll have to see the vet immediately.
What is a Roundworm?
Of all the various types of worms felines can get, roundworms are the most common variety, according to the ASPCA. They are round, off-white in color, anywhere from 3 to 6 inches long and create a nest inside your kitty's intestinal tract. If there are several present, they can get into her bloodstream and move up into the liver and lungs, leading to severe problems.
How They Get It
There are a number of ways your indoor feline companion can get roundworms. Kittens can become infected with the parasite from their mother's milk. If you recently adopted your kitten, it's possible she had roundworms before you brought her home. She can also get roundworms by feasting on an infected rodent. Even if she never wanders outside, if she has access to your unfinished basement or cellar, she can still come into contact with a rodent. Some type of bugs and flies also carry roundworm larvae. When little Trixy swallows a larvae-carrying cockroach, for example, the eggs could hatch in her system, leading to an infestation.
Once the roundworms start thriving in your precious pal's belly, you'll see signs of gastrointestinal distress. She'll have diarrhea and blood in her stool, and she may drop weight suddenly. Constipation and vomiting may also occur. Watch for worm fragments in her stool or worms lurking out of her rear end. Roundworms look similar to cooked spaghetti noodles. If the infestation spreads up into her respiratory tract, she'll cough and have problems breathing as well.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Before taking Trixy to the vet, gather a fresh stool sample in a plastic bag and take it to the office with you. Your veterinarian will need to check her stool for larvae and worms to determine exactly which type of worm is in her gut. Medicine for each type of worm varies, so proper diagnosis is important. When roundworms are apparent, he'll give her an oral deworming medication called a anthelmintic, Animal Planet reports. This medication forces the roundworms to come out when she has bowel movements. Depending on how badly she is infected, you may need to administer the deworming medication one or two more times, with several weeks in between doses.
Keep your purring friend away from areas that may attract rodents, like the basement or screened-in back porch. If you notice bugs in your home, get rid of them before Trixy has a chance to dine on the critters. Your veterinarian can prescribe monthly flea and heartworm medications that help fight her chances of getting stuck with a roundworm infestation.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.