Feline Roundworm, Toxocara cati

The Feline Roundworm (Toxocara cati) is a species of parasitic nematode widely distributed through cats and other felids. It is one of the most common nematode of cats. The adult worm is localized in the gut of the host. In adult cats, infection is typically asymptomatic, meaning there are no symptoms. However, massive infection in juvenile cats can be fatal.

The adult feline roundworm may be brownish-yellow to cream colored to pink and may be up to 4 inches in length. It has a short, wide cervical protruding ridge (alae) giving its anterior end the distinct appearance of an arrow (genus name Toxocara means “arrowhead”).

Eggs of the Feline Roundworm are invisible to the human eye, and larvae are so small that they are easily transmitted from an adult female to her nursing kittens through her milk. Treatments for infection with Toxocara cati include drugs designed to cause the adult worms to become partially anaesthetized and detach from the intestinal lining, allowing them to be excreted live in the feces.

Drugs such as piperazine and pyrantel are frequently combined with praziquantel which appear to cause the worm to lose it resistance to being digested by the host. Other effective treatments, such as Dichlorvos, are being banned due to toxicity and now unavailable in a number of areas.

Image Caption: Toxocara cati. Credit: Beentree/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)