Library

Cats + Parasites

  • Feline upper respiratory infection (URI) is one term for a respiratory infection caused by one or more viral or bacterial agents. Synonyms for this condition include feline infectious respiratory disease and feline upper respiratory disease complex (URD).

  • The most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis), although any species of fleas, including fleas from rabbits, squirrels or other wildlife, can be found on cats.

  • Harvest mites, also known as red bugs, trombiculid mites, scrub-itch mites, berry bugs or, in their larval stage as chiggers, are mites that are commonly found in forests and grasslands. Harvest mites are relatives of spiders.

  • Heartworms are a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria immitis that reside in the heart or adjacent large blood vessels of infected animals. The female worm is 6 to 14 inches long (15 to 36 cm) and 1/8 inch wide (5 mm). The male is about half the size of the female. Heartworm disease is much more common in dogs.

  • Histoplasmosis is a chronic, non-contagious fungal infection caused by the soil-dwelling fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Histoplasma capsulatum is found globally and may infect both humans and animals. However, histoplasmosis is uncommon to rare in all but dogs and cats.

  • 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. They are only about 1/8" (two to three mm) long and so small in diameter that they are barely visible to the naked eye.

  • 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. They can be an important cause of illness, even death, in kittens. As their name implies, these are large-bodied round worms, averaging about 3-6 inches (8-15 cm) in length. They do not attach to the wall of the intestine, as some intestinal parasites do. Instead, they are literally "swimming" freely within the intestine.

  • Tapeworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. They are classified as cestodes. They belong to a different family than hookworms and roundworms, which are the other common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats. Several types of tapeworms are known to infect cats. Dipylidium caninum is by far the most common species observed in cats.

  • Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids similar to scorpions, spiders and mites. All ticks have four pairs of legs for a total of eight legs as adults and have no antennae. Adult insects by comparison have three pairs of legs (6six total legs) and one pair of antennae.

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