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Internal Parasites
Parasites are organisms that live in or on another living organism known as the host.  From the host, these parasites are able to feed.

At some point in your cats life it may have a problem with internal parasites.  The more common internal parasites are known as worms. 
The worms can enter the animals body by ingestion, absorption or the worms are passed from the mother to the kitten before the kitten is born. 
These parasites may cause diarrhea, vomiting, depression, a loss of appetite  and loss of weight.  Most internal parasites are found in the bowel but not all.  Not all internal parasites are worms.

When you bring your new kitten to the Vet for a thorough examination,
bring a stool sample so that the vet can check it for internal parasites. 
Many kittens get them from their mother before they are born so it would not hurt to have this matter checked by the vet.

If the pet shop you bought your kitten from tells you that it has been
de-wormed, you might want to follow up with the Vet to make sure the treatment the pet shop gave the kitten was successful.  Your kitten may
have been treated for the more common type of intestinal parasites. 
There are some that are not very common and the treatments are not successful in eliminating these types of internal parasites.

It is best to seek the advice of your Veterinarian to determine if indeed your new cat does have worms.  The Vet will be able to administer the
proper medication to eliminate the parasites.
Roundworms
One of the most common type of internal parasites found in pets are called Roundworms.

Symptoms include:

Diarrhea
Poor Growth
Pot Belly Appearance

Some dogs are able to develop a resistance while cats may be susceptible to getting these parasites throughout their life due to exposure to eggs in the soil, from eating infected rodents or wildlife or their natural immunity has broken down.

A healthy mother may produce young that contain many of these internal parasites because the mother had dormant larvae which were stimulated to move to the uterus and mammary glands.
Hookworms
The hookworm gets its name from the hook-like teeth located in its mouth.   A cat can become infected with hookworm more so in the summer than in the winter.

A cat usually becomes infected by ingestion. Beetles and mice can also be a carrier.  The larvae may also penetrate the cat's skin. With penetration, the larvae work their way to the lungs by way of the blood stream.  The animal then coughs them up and swallows the larvae which will find their way to the small intestine where they will continue their development.  They attach themselves to the lining of the intestine and suck the blood causing hemorrhages.

Female hookworms can produce ten thousand to twenty five thousand eggs per day depending on the species.  The eggs are passed in the feces.
It takes about two days for the eggs to hatch once they have passed in the feces. The larvae will become infective in about 5 days after hatching ready to penetrate another hosts' skin.

Treatments for your pet include oral and injectable drugs.  The Vet will also have to treat the animals blood to bring it back to normal levels.
Tapeworms
The tapeworm is another common intestinal parasite found in the intestines of the adult cat.

There are many types that affect cats.

Tapeworms have numerous segments and each tapeworm varies in length.  The segments have reproductive organs that produce eggs.  The segments can be found in the stool or on the underside of your cat's tail. They look like pieces of rice. When fresh they are white and as they dry up the turn brown. In order for the life cycle to continue, the segments dry up and the eggs are released. You may notice these small grains at the base and the underside of the cats tail.

For adults most internal parasites are contracted
by eating uncooked food, infected food, dirty/contaminated water, or dirty litter box conditions.  Thus make sure your cat eats a healthy diet and eats out of clean water and food bowls at all times.  Also keep your cat's litter box clean and free from any potential bacteria or parasites, and dispose of excrements on a regular basis.

If you have an outdoor cat you may want to talk to your Vet about preventative steps that you can take to keep your cat healthy.

And anytime you introduce a new cat, especially a kitten, into your home make sure to take him/her to the Vet for a full examination first. This way the new cat will not unknowingly pass any diseases to your current cat.
Medical and care advice on this page is for your knowledge and information only. It is not a substitute for a Veterinary appointment or an actual diagnosis for your pet.  If you feel your pet has a health or behavior problem please consult your Veterinarian immediately for specific advice tailored to your individual pet.