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Pet care with Hansel.

Vet Hansel answers your questions about pet care in this weekly advice column, created in partnership with the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA). It will also be highlighting each week some of the animals in the BSPCA sanctuary, in the hope of finding each of them a loving home.

Question: My cat was scooting his backside along the floor and I noticed some pieces that looked like rice left behind. What are they? What should I do?

Answer: Tapeworm segments look like rice grains. They are whitish or cream in colour with a ribbon-like appearance. Also known as 'cestodes', these parasites are flat, segmented worms that live in the small intestine of cats.

As the tapeworm grows, pieces of it break off into segments and pass into the intestines - you may see dried, white or cream-coloured segments, or pieces of tapeworm in your cat's faeces or stuck to the fur under the tail.

Some tapeworm species will break off into segments that are too small to see, while the segments of other tapeworm species will resemble sesame or cucumber seeds in size and appearance.

Cats get tapeworms by ingesting the larvae, while tapeworm eggs are frequently ingested through adult fleas.

Other sources that are potential transmitters, and that a cat is likely to ingest, include rabbits, birds, and rodents. Scavenging may also lead to an infestation of tapeworms.

Generally there will be few outward symptoms of a tapeworm infection. Most cat owners discover their cat has tapeworm when they notice rice-like segments around the cat's anus, in his faeces and in the environment, such as bedding.

It is also possible in some cases for the tapeworm to release its attachment on the small intestinal wall and move to the stomach - the cat may then vomit up the tapeworm.

Some cats may bite or lick at their anus or scoot their hindquarters along the floor. The fur may also take on a poor appearance. A heavy infestation may cause your cat to lose weight due to the tapeworm competing for nutrients with the cat.

A faecal sample can be used to review for the presence of tapeworms. False negatives do occur, but most test results are conclusive.

Treatment for tapeworms includes using a de-worming medication that will kill off existing tapeworms.

However, if infestation does occur, the environment must be treated along with the cat to prevent recurring infestations. Keeping your cat away from dead animals and garbage may also help prevent ingestion of tapeworms.

To keep your cat free of flea infestation and protect against tapeworms, use once-a-month topical insecticides, which are applied to a small area on your pet's back.

Shampoos, sprays and dips are also available for controlling fleas.

In order to control fleas in indoor spaces, use a product that will kill any remaining adult fleas and also stop the development of eggs and larvae.

You will need a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator (IGR). This can be in the form of carpet powders, foggers, or sprays - Foggers are especially good for large open areas.

*Dr Hansel Geo is a veterinary consultant for the BSPCA and Charis Vets. Please send questions to

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jun 20, 2015
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