Currently, there are over two thousand known species of fleas in the world. Fleas are tiny parasites that can jump from host to host, spreading a plethora of diseases. Unfortunately, fleas can also spread internal parasites, such as worms, to cats.
Fleas are small insects between 2 and 8 millimeters in length. They have flat bodies, six legs, and their colors range from mahogany to medium brown. They feed on the blood of animals but can go several months without feeding.
Fleas can transmit internal worms by either ingestion of the flea, contact with items or food contaminated by flea larvae, or by eating an infected rodent, such as a mouse or rat.
Tapeworms are the only worm currently known to be spread to felines through fleas. Tapeworms are long, flat parasites with suckers or grooves that they use to attach themselves to the intestinal wall.
Symptoms of tapeworms in cats include irritability, changes in appetite, nervousness, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, weight loss, locking of the anal area or dragging of the rear end across the floor.
Monthly flea medications are ideal for preventing flea infestations. These medications come in many forms including topical sprays, ointments or oral tablets, all of which greatly reduce the chances of a cat suffering from a flea infestation.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Alessandro Valli