Lungworms in Cats: A Quick Guide What You Need To Know About Lungworms In Cats

Lungworms in Cats: A Quick Guide Photo by Tomas Ryant:

Cats can contract parasitic worms called lungworms, which can lead to a number of different health issues. Learn more about Feline Lungworms here.

Lungworms are parasitic worms that can infect cats and cause a variety of health problems. These worms, also called Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, are found in infected cats' lungs and bronchial airways and can lead to symptoms including coughing, breathing issues, and even pneumonia.

Here, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of lungworm infection in cats.


The causes of Lungworms in cats include:

  • Ingestion of infective larvae found in the environment or in intermediate hosts such as snails or slugs.

  • Hunting or eating infected snails or slugs.

  • Exposure to contaminated soil or vegetation in gardens or parks.

  • Contact with other infected cats.

  • Some cats can also develop lungworms through snorting or ingesting respiratory secretions from other infected cats.

It is worth noting that lungworm infection is relatively rare in cats but can be severe if left untreated. It is important for cat owners to be aware of the risk factors and take steps to prevent infection, and seek prompt treatment if their cat shows signs of infection.



The symptoms of lungworm infection in cats can vary but may include:

  • Coughing

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Wheezing

  • Rapid breathing

  • Open-mouthed breathing

  • Exercise intolerance

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Anemia

  • Lethargy

  • Nasal discharge

  • Eye discharge

Some cats may not show any symptoms of lungworm infection, or the symptoms may be mild and non-specific, making it difficult to diagnose. Additionally, some of the symptoms, such as coughing and breathing difficulties, can also be caused by other respiratory conditions. A veterinarian will be able to determine if a cat has a lungworm infection through examination, laboratory tests, and imaging.


Clinical Diagnosis

The clinical diagnosis of lungworm infection in cats typically involves a combination of examination, laboratory tests, and imaging.

  • Physical examination: A veterinarian will examine the cat for signs of respiratory distress, such as coughing, wheezing, or open-mouthed breathing. They might also look for further indications of lungworm infection, like anemia or weight loss.

  • Laboratory tests: A veterinarian may use a variety of laboratory tests to diagnose lungworm infection in cats. Some of these tests include:

  • Fecal examination: A sample of the cat's feces may be examined for the presence of lungworm eggs.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests may be performed to look for evidence of infection or anemia.

  • Radiography (X-rays): Radiography can reveal lung lesions or other signs of lungworm infection.

  • CT or MRI: These tests can be used to confirm the diagnosis of lungworm infection and to assess the extent of damage to the lungs.

  • Other diagnostic methods: Sometimes, a bronchoscopy or biopsy of the lung tissue may be done to confirm the diagnosis of lungworm infection in cats.

A definitive diagnosis of lungworm infection may not be possible without a combination of diagnostic methods. A veterinarian will be able to determine the best course of action for your cat based on their symptoms, physical examination, and test results.

Treatment and Management Options

The treatment of lungworm infection in cats typically involves the use of antiparasitic medications to kill the worms and reduce inflammation in the lungs. The particular course of action will depend on the extent of the illness, the cat's general health, and any underlying disorders.

  • Antiparasitic and Antibiotic Medications: The most common medication used to treat lungworm infection in cats is fenbendazole, which is given orally for several days. Other medications that can be used include praziquantel and milbemycin oxime. Also, antibiotics like Clavamox will be recommended for 2-4 weeks if the cat has got a secondary infection as a result of the lungworms, such as bacterial pneumonia.

  • Steroids: Steroids such as prednisolone may be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the lungs.

  • Oxygen therapy: Cats with severe lungworm infection may require oxygen therapy to help them breathe.

  • Hospitalization: In some cases, cats with lungworm infections may need to be hospitalized to receive intensive care, including oxygen therapy and fluid therapy. It's a good idea to bring your cat's favorite toys if they need to be hospitalized, so they feel at home. In order to soothe your cat, you may also give them relaxing treats.

  • Supportive care: Cats with lungworm infection may require supportive care to help them recover, such as nursing care and physiotherapy.

  • Healthy diet: You can minimize infections in cats by feeding them a healthy and balanced diet.

However, the treatment of lungworm infection in cats can be difficult and may not be successful in some cases. Cats that are in poor condition or have severe lung damage may not survive despite treatment. Also, treatment should be under the supervision of a veterinarian, who will monitor the cat's condition and adjust the treatment as necessary.

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