Tapeworm in Cats – Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Tapeworms are intestinal parasites. Cats are at high risk of tapeworm infestations because of their natural behaviours and instincts. It’s important to understand how cats get tapeworms, tapeworm symptoms in cats, tapeworm treatment and how to protect your cat.

Tapeworm in cats
Tapeworm in cats

What is tapeworm in cats?

Tapeworms are one of the most common types of worms in cats. They live in the small intestine of cats. Two important tapeworm species in Australian cats are the flea tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) and the cat tapeworm (Taenia taeniaeformis).

What do tapeworms in cats look like?

The flea tapeworm is a long, white worm, 15-70 cm in length. The cat tapeworm is a long, flat worm, up to 60 cm in length. Adult worms live in the small intestine and are made up of segments. The segments, which contain eggs, are passed in the faeces. It is sometimes possible to see segments of tapeworms in a cat’s stool or around the anus – they look like small, white grains of rice that can move!

How do cats get tapeworms?

The tapeworm life cycle always includes an intermediate host which varies depending on the species of tapeworm:

  • Flea tapeworm – grooming behaviour results in ingestion of fleas containing flea tapeworm larvae
  • Cat tapeworm – infestation from hunting small mammals which act as intermediate hosts

Difference between tapeworms in cats vs tapeworms in dogs

Cats’ natural behaviours and instincts, such as roaming, grooming and hunting, place them at high risk of parasites, including tapeworms. Both cats and dogs can be infested with flea tapeworm.

Most pet dogs do not roam or hunt and so are at very low, or no risk, of some parasites. For example, hydatid tapeworms in dogs are only a risk for dogs if they eat raw offal or scavenge on carcasses.

Symptoms of tapeworms in cats

There are often no obvious symptoms or signs of tapeworms in cats, although they can occasionally cause signs such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and itchiness around the anus.

Treatment of tapeworms in cats

Tapeworm treatment in cats requires the administration of a deworming product which contains the active ingredient praziquantel, such as NexGard SPECTRA® Spot-On for Cats.

Prevention of tapeworms in cats

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Monthly treatment with NexGard SPECTRA® for Cats protects cats against intestinal worms, including tapeworms, as well as fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and lungworm.

Other additional methods for tapeworm prevention for cats include preventing cats from hunting and eating rodents, and controlling rodent populations.

Nexgard spectra for cats - portrait Nexgard spectra for cats - portrait


  • Can tapeworms be passed from cat to humans?

    Although very rare, it is possible for flea tapeworms and cat tapeworms to infect humans if a person ingested an infected intermediate host (fleas in the case of flea tapeworm or rodents in the case of cat tapeworm).

  • How to detect tapeworms in cats?

    Diagnosing tapeworms in cats can be very difficult. Diagnosis typically relies on identification of distinctive tapeworm segments in the faeces but these can be easily missed.

  • How long does it take to get rid of tapeworms in cats?

    A single dose of NexGard SPECTRA® Spot-On for Cats is highly effective at treating tapeworm infestations in cats. On-going monthly treatment controls future infestations.



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