If you've recently become the owner of a cat, you might not know how susceptible they are to parasites. Some of these parasites can be extremely harmful and can be passed on to humans. In fact, one particular parasite is hazardous to pregnant women.
To protect your cat and yourself, it's a good idea to take your new feline friend in for a veterinary exam as soon as possible. Once your cat has been given a clean bill-of-health, you should continue protecting it from parasites. Here are just a few of the parasites that can make your cat extremely ill.
Hookworms are a small parasite that is found in the feces of infected cats. The worm larvae can make its way into the placenta of pregnant cats and infect kittens before they're born. Most kittens that are infected with hookworms while in-utero will die shortly after birth.
This type of parasite can also cause skin lesions on humans and is particularly harmful to people with weakened immune systems. If your cat has hookworms, you should have it treated as soon as possible.
Most cats become infected with tapeworms by eating small prey that are carrying the eggs. Once your cat is infected with tapeworms, it will be unable to obtain nutrients from the food it eats. Tapeworms make their homes inside the digestive tract of cats and will absorb all the nutrients your cat takes in. You can help prevent tapeworms by adding a small amount of garlic to your cat's food each day.
If your cat spends a great deal of time outdoors, there's a good chance it will be infected with heartworm at some point in its life. Most cats are infected with this parasite by being bitten by mosquitoes. Heartworms cause severe damage to the blood vessels in the lungs and the heart. If untreated, heartworms are usually fatal.
Intestinal protozoa is one of the most dangerous parasites, particularly among pregnant women. This parasite causes a condition known as toxoplasmosis, a disease that can be passed on to humans. It is potentially life-threatening to unborn babies. If you or someone in your home is pregnant, someone else should clean the litterbox.
If you have a cat, you should familiarize yourself with the parasites that it might come in contact with. If your cat becomes ill or fails to gain weight, you should take it to an animal hospital, like Metzger Animal Hospital, and have it tested for parasites.