Heartworms are a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria immitis that reside in the heart or adjacent large blood vessels of infected animals. There is no drug approved for treating heartworms in cats. Veterinarians now strongly recommend that all cats receive year-round monthly heartworm preventative in areas where mosquitoes are active all year round.
Hookworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. In general, cats tend to harbor relatively few hookworms when compared to the large numbers found in dogs.
Lung flukes are parasitic organisms called trematodes. The most common lung fluke to affect cats in North America is called Paragonimus kellicotti, also known as the North American lung fluke. Other species of lung flukes can infect cats in other areas of the world, but are rarely found in North America.
Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of the cat. Almost all cats will become infected with roundworms at some point in their life and most often as kittens. Roundworms are not particularly harmful to adult cats, but large numbers may cause life-threatening problems in kittens and debilitated older cats.
Tapeworms are flat, segmented intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. The tapeworm uses its hook-like mouthparts for anchoring to the wall of the small intestine. As the adult tapeworm matures, individual segments called proglottids break off from the main body of the tapeworm and pass in the cat's feces. When segments of the tapeworm break off and pass into the cat's stool, they can be seen crawling on the surface of the feces.
Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their host and can in turn transmit diseases to your cat or even you. They are prolific breeders and their life cycles can extend through multiple seasons. Prompt removal or use of preventatives limit or prevent the spread of disease, or kill the ticks.
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by infection with the organism called Toxoplasma gondii. This is a microscopic single-cell protozoal organism related to coccidia. Toxoplasma occurs worldwide and infection in cats is similarly widespread. Although toxoplasmosisis a relatively common infection, it usually causes no disease in infected cats.