Kittens and Cats
Even before they are born, kittens may be host to parasites. Parasites may have burrowed through the placental wall or travelled in the bloodstream. They can be passed from the mother during nursing or from directly ingesting the parasite eggs. It is worth checking the litter stools for eggs with a magnifying glass.
The bite of an egg-carrying mosquito is the cause of a devastating parasite – the cat heartworm. These eggs become adult worms that lodge in the heart and surrounding ventricles. If your cat spends time outdoors, it is in ‘heartworm country’. Once infested the cats can pass these long, thin worms to dogs, other animals in the household and any people who stroke them. Infected cats display the symptoms of coughing, poor health, loss of weight (or stunted growth) and vomiting. Medical treatments can be harsh and therefore carry some risks to kittens. Without treatment infected cats may die from congestive heart failure.
Parasites are a threat to cats of all ages, especially older cats as the cumulative effects of parasitic infestation becomes more damaging.
Cats are exposed to toxoplasmosis when they eat any type of raw meat, especially from a caught rodent. Toxoplasma Gondii are common in cats and can affect anyone coming into contact with infected litter. It is believed that up to 80% of cat owners may be carrying Toxoplasma Gondii in their brains; they may cause severe birth defects for an unborn child. For this reason pregnant women are often warned to take considerable precautions not to change the cat’s litter or come into contact with cats during the months of pregnancy.
Nematodes - the ‘worm’ family
Roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm are also prevalent in cats. Infection with any of these worms is considerably more of a problem in kittens than it is in adult cats as infected kittens may become malnourished and fail to gain weight. They may suffer intestinal bloating, vomiting and diarrhoea which in turn may lead to severe weight loss and even death. Internal blockages, irritations and inflammations may affect entire litters.
Passing parasites to humans
Apart from physical contact with the animals themselves or from cleaning up their bedding, cockroaches and flies may provide transport for Toxoplasma Gondii, carrying cat's faecal material on their bodies. It is even suggested that schizophrenia could be a viral zoonosis (animal-disease affecting humans) transmitted from house cats.
Toxoplasmosis in humans: past newsletter article
If your cat or kitten has any health condition or you simply want to keep parasitic infection to a minimum in your household, click here to buy Critter Cleanse.