Cat Parasites and Diseases

Stray cat resting.


Coccidia belong to a group of microscopic parasites called protozoans. These organisms primarily inhabit the small intestine of affected dogs and cats. The disease caused by coccidia (coccidiosis) is rarely severe, yet the resulting diarrhea it causes can rapidly dehydrate a young puppy or kitten. Overcrowding and poor sanitation greatly contribute to the spread of …

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Cat with blue eyes laying on her back.

Heartworms in Cats

As frightening as it might seem, the incidence of this disease, once thought limited to canines, is on the rise in cats as well. Dirofilaria immitis, the same mosquitoborne organism that causes canine heartworm disease, also causes the feline disease. Most cats that become infested with heartworms develop less than 10 worms within the heart, …

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Cat outside in the garden.


Warbles (Cuterebrafly larva) are an unusual type of parasite that can be found on, or living within, the skin of cats. They usually appear as nodules or lumps around the head or neck region. Often, these nodules are mistaken for plain abscesses, yet on close inspection inside, an actual fly larva, sometimes the size of …

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Vet with stethoscope checking a kitten.


The hookworm (Ancylostoma, Uncinaria) is another type of parasite that inhabits the small intestine of dogs and cats. Unlike the roundworm that floats unattached within the intestinal lumen, absorbing nutrients through its skin, the hookworm actually has teeth, which it uses to attach itself to the wall of the intestine. Once attached, it begins to …

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Two orange cats looking down from a chair.


Roundworms, known as ascarids or “spool worms,” are thick-bodied, whitish-to-cream-colored worms that can inhabit the small intestine of dogs and cats. This is one of the most common intestinal parasites affecting dogs and cats and young puppies and kittens. In fact, research has demonstrated that over 95 percent of all neonates are born with roundworms. …

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Cat sleeping in her bed on a white carpet.


Tapeworms are considered segmented flatworms, belonging to a class of organisms called Cestoda. One important characteristic of this class is that all utilize intermediate hosts in their transmission cycle. Intermediate hosts can include rodents, fleas, and other insects, rabbits, sheep, swine, cattle, and in some instances, even humans! Tapeworm segments containing eggs are shed in …

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Woman with white sweater holding an orange cat in her arms.


Mite infestation, commonly known as mange, requires the diagnostic and treatment expertise of a veterinarian. The common mites infecting dogs and cats are microscopic, requiring skin scrapes and subsequent microscopic examination by the veterinarian for diagnosis. Notoedres Mange (Cats) The most common mange mite infecting cats, Notoedres cati, is microscopic, and it requires special skin …

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Cat getting tick dips from her owner.


Ticks, unlike fleas, attach themselves to the pet’s skin via their mouthparts. Ticks generally remain attached in one spot for long periods. The head, neck, and interdigital (between the toes) areas of the pet are the most common sites of severe infestation. Ticks produce local irritation and even anemia in heavy infestations. Ticks might serve …

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Cat scratching her head.


Ctenocephalides canis (common dog flea) is by far the most common external parasite seen on dogs and cats. As most pet owners will attest to, these pests are the number one health problem facing these pets. However, aside from causing relentless chewing and scratching, fleas are also disease carriers, and can threaten the pet owner’s …

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