Perhaps it is about helminths that are most often recalled when a person looks at the next shabby cat, rummaging in a garbage heap. Alas, this association often has quite good reasons. There are a lot of eggs of parasitic worms in the wild, so without preventive veterinary treatment in cats there is no chance of being left without companions in the intestines. What parasitic diseases are most often found in veterinary practice? These include toxocariasis in cats. Perhaps there is not a single "catman" who would not come across this kind of helminths.
About the pathogen
The causative agent is the helminth Toxocara cati. The length of an adult female can reach 10 centimeters, while males rarely grow longer than four to five. This species is specific to cats, and, in contrast to the dog variety, it affects cats and related animals. Please note, dog lovers that Toxocara canis with the same success can parasitize in the intestines not only canids, but also do not mind staying in the body of a cat or even a human. By the way, is it possible to get toxocariasis from a cat? In general, the issue is quite sensitive. Parasitologists have long proved that they can "catch" these parasites from their dog in two ways, but there is still no consensus on cats. Many scientists believe that Toxocara cati does not take root in the human body. Others argue that there is still a chance of infection. To date, the scientific community has come to a consensus: under normal conditions, a person cannot be the master of these helminths, but children, the elderly and just weakened people are an unpleasant exception to the rule.
How do helminth eggs of this species spread? In general, there is nothing special in this process. An infected animal empties its intestines, feces dries, and eggs are carried by wind and water, becoming an integral component of simple road dust. At this moment, larvae develop in the egg. This process is quite fast: in warm summer or spring time, no more than five days pass, in colder periods the cycle stretches significantly in time. Alas, winter does not destroy eggs, but only inhibits the development of larvae in them.
How does infection happen?
Oddly enough, but the cat can be infected with worms of this species in several ways at once. Firstly, cats constantly lick. On their wool often appears the very dust with eggs of worms. Then everything is simple. They enter the intestines of the animal, the larvae leave the eggs and travel on the body, ending their journey in the same place they came from. In the intestines. In the second case, everything is somewhat more complicated. The same dust gets into the body of rats and mice ... which are great snacks for cats. It is only in their intestines that the toxacar larvae, although they do not reach adult worms, remain in a “conserved” state, and they spread with blood throughout all the internal organs of the rodent, especially preferring the liver. If a cat eats such a mouse, it will become infected.
The development of the parasite in the animal
Further development of the parasite does not depend on the path of infection. So, the larva came out of the egg. It would be logical to assume that it remains in the intestine and grows into an adult parasite there. But this is not happening. Small larvae pierce the intestinal wall, entering one of the many blood vessels. With blood, they are carried throughout the body, settling in the lungs. There, young parasites develop to the desired "condition", after which they fall back into the digestive tract. This happens when the cat sputters and swallows pulmonary sputum. The latter is secreted in a multitude with bronchitis, which is caused by the same larvae that host the lungs. Once in the intestines, they remain there and grow into adult worms.
Worms feed abundantly at the expense of the host, secrete a myriad of eggs and toxins, which are far from having the best effect on feline health. Alas, this is far from the main danger for a cat suffering from toxocariasis. The fact is that part of the larvae, together with the blood stream, do not enter the lungs, but into other internal organs. They especially like the liver and heart. Strange as it may seem, parasites are not in a hurry to die in such unusual conditions for themselves, but they live in comfort there. All this contributes to the development of huge abscesses (which are fraught with sudden peritonitis), spontaneous cardiac arrest and other "surprises".
In general, there are no specific symptoms. So, the animal’s appetite may increase, but in some cases, cats stop eating at all. Sometimes sick animals show strange taste preferences, sometimes eating even the feces of other cats, or they have an incredible gastronomic interest in polyethylene, socks and other inedible things. Very often there are digestive disorders, expressed in alternating periods of constipation and diarrhea. In principle, a characteristic feature is a cough during the migration of larvae from the lungs to the digestive tract, but not all hosts pay attention to it.
Due to the constant action of toxins, the animal’s immunity suffers greatly, which is reflected in the fact that the cat is constantly sick, his general condition worsens. When there are too many parasites in the intestines, any passerby can already guess about cat's health with feline health: the cat’s stomach is swollen with general exhaustion, on the sides there are plentiful bald patches, and the coat is rough and brittle. Very often in this condition, the cat is no longer a tenant, since its internal organs are probably infested with parasites.
So how to treat your pet with suspected toxocariasis? The answer is simple - take him to the vets immediately! In severe cases, anthelmintic drugs can no longer be dispensed with, since it is necessary to remove severe general intoxication. In some cases, it comes to surgery, when abscesses of parasitic origin are surgically excised (or even half of the organ is removed). Only timely treatment of toxocariasis in cats gives a chance for a successful outcome of the disease!