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How do I Treat a Feline Tapeworm?

Bethney Foster
Bethney Foster

A feline tapeworm is most often treated using one dose of a medication called Praziquantel. This medication is available over the counter at pet supply stores. In addition to treating the tapeworm infection, it is important to review flea control protections for the cat before treatment.

While cats can get tapeworms from eating rodents that are infected, in most instances cats get tapeworms by ingesting an infected flea. As this is the likely cause of the feline tapeworm, the cat should be examined for fleas and treated with a reliable flea control product before Praziquantel is administered. Praziquantel will end a feline tapeworm infection but will not protect against future infection. This is why flea control should be practiced before the medication is administered.

Feline tapeworm is usually treated with one dose of Praziquantel.
Feline tapeworm is usually treated with one dose of Praziquantel.

Praziquantel was once available only with a veterinarian’s prescription. It is important that the over-the-counter medication is for cats specifically and that dog tapeworm medications are not used on felines. The medication should not be used on kittens younger than six weeks old. For treatment of young kittens, a veterinarian should be consulted about a feline tapeworm infection.

A veterinarian should be consulted for treating feline tapeworm.
A veterinarian should be consulted for treating feline tapeworm.

If a cat has fleas, it is likely the cat also has tapeworms. As fecal testing often doesn’t reveal the presence of tapeworms, it is often recommended that a cat with fleas be treated for tapeworms. In most instances, owners will become aware of a feline tapeworm infection when they notice white or yellow rice-like segments around their cat’s anus or in their cat’s stool.

When treated tapeworms will be passed in a cat's droppings.
When treated tapeworms will be passed in a cat's droppings.

Once the cat swallows an infected flea, the egg of the tapeworm inside the flea hatches. The tapeworm then attaches to the cat’s intestines and develops into an adult. It begins to produce egg-filled segments that leave the cat’s body through the anus.

Prevention of feline tapeworm is twofold. A strict flea control program, one using a veterinarian-recommended flea control product, is the top priority. Secondly, keep the cat indoors so that it doesn’t have the opportunity to ingest an infected rodent.

In some instances, a feline tapeworm infection may lead to nutritional deficiencies, but for the most part tapeworms cause few health-related concerns. Beyond the presence of fleas or segments of the tapeworm, there are few to no symptoms to alert a cat owner that the pet may be infected. In rare instances, pet owners may notice the cat losing weight if there is a large amount of the parasites in the cat’s intestines. Some cats may scoot on their bottom if the presence of the segments is causing irritation. The cat may also, through rarely, vomit an adult tapeworm.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs that my cat might have a tapeworm?

Common signs of a feline tapeworm infection include visible segments of the worm near the cat's anus or in their feces, which may look like grains of rice. Cats may also exhibit weight loss, increased appetite, and irritation or scooting around their rear end. If you notice these symptoms, a veterinary visit is warranted for diagnosis and treatment.

How is a feline tapeworm infection diagnosed?

A veterinarian can diagnose tapeworms by examining your cat's feces under a microscope for eggs or by identifying the presence of tapeworm segments in the stool or around the anus. Sometimes, the segments are visible to the naked eye, but a microscopic examination ensures an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

What are the treatment options for feline tapeworms?

Treatment for feline tapeworms typically involves administering a deworming medication, such as praziquantel or epsiprantel, which can be given orally or by injection. These medications are highly effective and work by dissolving the tapeworms within the cat's intestines. Follow-up treatments may be necessary to ensure all life stages of the worm are eradicated.

Can I prevent my cat from getting tapeworms?

Preventing tapeworms in cats involves controlling fleas, as they are often the intermediate host for the most common type of tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. Keeping your cat indoors, regular flea control treatments, and preventing hunting behaviors can reduce the risk. Regular deworming schedules and hygiene practices also play a crucial role in prevention.

Are there any natural remedies for treating feline tapeworms?

While some natural remedies are touted for treating tapeworms, such as pumpkin seeds or herbal extracts, their effectiveness is not scientifically proven. It's essential to consult with a veterinarian before trying any natural remedies, as they may not be effective and could delay proper treatment, potentially leading to worsening of the infection.

Is it necessary to treat my home if my cat has tapeworms?

While tapeworms themselves do not typically survive long in the environment, treating your home for fleas is crucial since they are the intermediate host for tapeworms. Thoroughly cleaning your home, washing bedding, and using flea control products can help prevent reinfestation of both fleas and tapeworms in your cat.

Discussion Comments


@Terrificli -- suggestions? Here are a couple. The biggest problem is in containing the cat. If you are going to give a cat medicine, you usually need at least two people -- one to hold the cat in such a way that it can't get its claws free to shred people trying to medicate it and another to actually treat the cat.

One thing that will help in those instances is a wire screen. You can get a bargain window screen that will work nicely for just a few bucks at your local hardware store. If you hold the cat so that it's feet are on the screen, it will tend to sink its claws into the screen rather into the people administering medicine.

As for getting the cat to swallow its worm medicine, here's a trick that always works. After you get the medicine in the cat's mouth, hold the mouth shut and massage the its throat until it swallows. After the cat has taken its medicine, let the animal go and stay out of its way -- the kitty will want to escape and might claw anyone that it thinks is preventing it from doing just that.


Buying some worm medicine to treat a cat is one thing, getting it down the critter is something else entirely. Those little beasts fight like crazy when they are given medicine. Even if you can get it in the cat's mouth, there is a good chance the kitty will just spit it out and that is frustrating for everyone. Any suggestions?

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    • Feline tapeworm is usually treated with one dose of Praziquantel.
      By: aceshot
      Feline tapeworm is usually treated with one dose of Praziquantel.
    • A veterinarian should be consulted for treating feline tapeworm.
      By: orelphoto
      A veterinarian should be consulted for treating feline tapeworm.
    • When treated tapeworms will be passed in a cat's droppings.
      By: Africa Studio
      When treated tapeworms will be passed in a cat's droppings.