Anyone who has cats knows that they can occasionally experience upset stomachs and sensitive digestive tracts. These can be minor, passing problems, or indicate larger issues that should be addressed by a veterinarian. Parasites are just one cause of digestive upset. As always, consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns, but here are some symptoms to watch for.

Vomiting

Vomiting is one of the most common problems cats can have. Your cat may throw up occasionally in order to get rid of hairballs.

Another explanation, and one of the most common reasons for vomiting, could be that your cat is eating too quickly. When cats eat too voraciously, they often swallow their kibble whole and end up gagging. The easiest way to slow down an overeager feline eater is to feed a larger kibble size so she has to take longer to chew and swallow. You can also try feeding smaller portions more often or using a food distributor ball.

Another cause of rapid eating is competition around the food bowl. If you have multiple cats, you may want to try feeding them in separate areas. If the problem continues, or if your cat is vomiting blood, call your veterinarian. Parasites may be to blame, but there’s no way to tell from vomiting alone.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea and not eating are both common issues for cats. These symptoms can be caused by many different factors, including a change in diet, stress, parasites, or infections.

It’s difficult to tell what’s wrong when a cat stops eating, vomits, or experiences diarrhea. The best thing to do is contact your veterinarian and seek the advice of a professional, since some serious conditions can result in pain, distress, and life-threatening complications.

Dull Fur, Lethargy, Coughing, Constipation, or Trouble Breathing

Symptoms can vary as widely as parasites do, but there are telltale signs for some parasites. Some are visible in vomit or stool, and some live elsewhere in the body with no outward signs.

There are many types of cat parasites — roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, lungworms and coccida, to name the most common. Roundworms can cause kittens to take on a bloated, potbellied look. Tapeworms and other parasites are sometimes visible around a cat’s anus directly after elimination.

Symptoms like dull fur, lethargy, coughing, constipation, or trouble breathing could be caused by parasites or any number of other health issues. Don’t try to diagnose or treat a parasitic infection in your cat yourself. If your cat has any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian right away.

Parasite Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Some parasites come from swallowing infected fleas, rodents, snails, slugs, or birds — others through contact with contaminated stool, or via an infected mother’s milk. Depending on the type of parasite, a veterinarian may use oral or injected medication to treat a cat’s parasites.

They may be a nuisance, but the good news is, most parasites can be treated or cured, and many can be prevented. If your cat is an outdoor cat, consider taking her indoors to limit her exposure to birds, rodents, and pests that may carry parasites. Keep your cat’s litter box clear of waste as much as possible, and keep up with your cat’s preventive health care in concert with your veterinarian.

If you suspect your cat may have parasites, give your veterinarian a call today. You’ll be one step closer to peace of mind — and your kitty, to the health and happiness she deserves.