What to Know About Tapeworm Infections in Cats


In this Article

  • What Are Tapeworms?
  • How Do Cats Get Tapeworms?
  • What Are the Symptoms of a Tapeworm Infection in Cats?
  • Can Humans Get Cat Tapeworms?
  • What Is the Treatment for Tapeworm in Cats?
  • How Do You Prevent Tapeworm in Cats?
  • Conclusion

Tapeworm infections are common in cats. Although tapeworms are generally not harmful to your pets, it’s important to have them treated as soon as possible by your vet. Sometimes, rare types of tapeworms can cause disease. Here’s what you need to know about tapeworm infections.

What Are Tapeworms?

A tapeworm is a type of worm that’s long and flat in shape. It can look like a long tape or ribbon, hence the name. Adults can grow to anywhere between 4 and 28 inches in length. 

The body of a tapeworm has multiple segments called proglottids. Each proglottid has its own reproductive organs. Once the tapeworm is fully grown, the segments break off and can be seen passing out with the stool.

The adult tapeworm survives by attaching its head to the mucous membrane which lines the small intestine and absorbing nutrients from it. 

How Do Cats Get Tapeworms?

When they clean themselves, cats can ingest fleas that have already been infected with tapeworm larvae. The larvae develop into adult tapeworms inside the cats’ intestines. Sometimes, cats can get fleas from other small animal carriers like mice or squirrels. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Tapeworm Infection in Cats?

If your cat has a tapeworm infection the most obvious sign is the presence of the proglottids. These can look like small white worms similar in shape and size to white rice grains. Look for the proglottids:

  • In or around the visible areas of the cat’s anus
  • On the cat’s feces or bowel movements
  • In the areas where your cat eats and sleeps

If your cat is heavily infected, you may see other tapeworm symptoms such as:

  • Irritation in the anus area caused by the tapeworms
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Inability to thrive

It can be hard to detect the presence of tapeworms in fecal matter through lab tests because the feces contains just the segments. Watch for the signs and symptoms so you can inform your vet about the possibility of tapeworms.

Can Humans Get Cat Tapeworms?

It is possible for humans to get tapeworm infections from cats. In order to get a tapeworm infection, a person would need to swallow a flea that has the tapeworm larvae.

It is more common for children to get tapeworm infections. Contact a doctor if you think your child has tapeworms. You’ll see the proglottids in the child’s stool or in and around their anus.  Your doctor will examine your child and provide the best treatment options.

What Is the Treatment for Tapeworm in Cats?

There are many different deworming products that you can find in supermarkets and pet stores. They may not all be safe for your cat or effective for the type of worms that your cat has. 

Contact your vet immediately for safe and effective cat tapeworm treatments if you think your pet has tapeworms.

Your cat will usually be given a drug called praziquantel either orally or in the form of an injection. Praziquantel is a tapeworm dewormer for cats. The drug helps to dissolve the tapeworms in the intestines. 

How Do You Prevent Tapeworm in Cats?

Your cat can easily get reinfected with tapeworms. To keep tapeworm infections at bay, keep your cat’s litter box clean and use tick and rodent control:

Control the carriers. Get rid of fleas and ticks, as well as mice and other rodents, which can carry tapeworm larvae that can transfer to your pet. Keep your cat on a regular flea preventative. 

Dispose of cat waste daily. Bury the feces or dispose of it in a plastic trash bag. Clean and wash the litterbox regularly using a pet-friendly disinfectant.

Teach your children. If you have children, teach them to wash their hands after playing with your cat. They should also not be allowed to play in areas where there are pet feces.

Deworm regularly. Deworm for cat tapeworms regularly to prevent reinfection. Adult cats that are older than 6 months are more likely to get tapeworm infections. Kittens can get tapeworm infections if they have fleas.

Adults need to be treated with a deworming product every 1 to 3 months. Speak to your vet about getting the right kind of dewormer for your cats. The tapeworm dewormer dosage can vary. If your cat has a hard time with injections, you will also have options for a solid or liquid tapeworm dewormer.  


Tapeworm infections are common in cats. Contact your vet promptly for safe and effective treatments if your pet has a tapeworm infection. Follow good sanitation practices and a regular deworming schedule to prevent reinfection.

Show Sources


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Dipylidium FAQs.”

Cornell Feline Health Center: “Gastrointestinal Parasites of Cats.”

International Cat Care: “Worming your cat.”



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