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stemnyjones's avatar

How dangerous are my cat's tapeworms to us?

Asked by stemnyjones (3959 points ) December 11th, 2009

My cat keeps getting tapeworms, because I haven’t yet bombed my apartment to kill all of the fleas. I have been treating them with pills, but right now I have $3 to my name and cannot afford a pill. Problem is, I have a two month old baby. Other than the worms being generally yucky, can me or my baby have any side effects to coming in contact with them, until I can get the problem resolved?

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20 Answers

rooeytoo's avatar

I think the only way you can contract tapes is by eating the head in the stomach of the host animal or fleas which are the carriers. You can’t get them from the segments. Still it is very unsanitary and I would sure keep the cat away from the baby until you get them under control.

If you can’t afford the bombs, put a small light over a pan of water or a piece of sticky paper, the fleas are attracted to the light and then drown in the water or get stuck on the paper. Just don’t let the light fall into the water!

stemnyjones's avatar

@rooeytoo Thanks, I didn’t think about the lightbulb idea. And the cats are banished from me and my significant other’s room for now (the baby sleeps in there with us as well), but sometimes we have to lay the baby down for a second on the couch or somewhere else where the cats may have been.

Also, just to make sure I am not mistaken – the worms look like little pieces of rice, but some of them are a little longer and move around like little worms. Are the segments still alive, or are the moving ones an entirely different type of worm?

Clair's avatar

I was going to ask a similar question and had forgotten what it was! Good question, just in time! And welcome to Fluther!

stemnyjones's avatar

@clair thanks! :) I’m definitely enjoying it so far.

rooeytoo's avatar

The segments are what is expelled and they look like rice, sometimes wiggling. Even if ingested cannot give you tape worms, but NOT NICE for sure.

Merriment's avatar

As disgusting as the segments of tapeworms are the real infection risk to humans, especially children, lies in the accidental ingestion of the flea itself. We can get a tapeworm in the same manner as a cat if we eat a flea. The “free” control of fleas is vacuum, vacuum, vacuum and dispose of the bag outside immediately. You can also sprinkle boric acid in the carpet, let it set overnight and vacuum it out to kill off the ones hiding in the carpet. A natural citrus repellent can be made by boiling a quartered lemon and spraying the cats and other areas with the lemon water.

faye's avatar

Tapeworms used to kill people- how is it that the cat keeps getting them and is not already dead?

ccrow's avatar

Putting mothballs in the vacuum bag will kill any fleas/eggs that you vac up. Don’t forget to vac upholstered furniture thoroughly too! :-)

Clair's avatar

I do something similar to @Merriment, I put some orange rinds in my bathwater if I suspect my dog has any fleas. It’s not quite as thorough. but it makes me feel more at ease.
@faye They will die if they have too many. When there is so many that it takes all their nutrients. It’s like starvation and depletion, I would think.

eternal_serenity's avatar

you should get some frontline – i got that for my animals and after a couple weeks the fleas were gone from the animals and the house – you can find it pretty cheap on ebay

bea2345's avatar

Take your cat to the vet. Tapeworm is something to take very seriously, especially if there is a young child in the house. There are preparations for animal fleas, and you should inquire about solutions for what I call “house fleas”.

stemnyjones's avatar

@bea2345 I plan on taking my cats to the vet, but as I stated in the question, I have $3 to my name. I don’t know of a vet that doesn’t make you pay before leaving.

bea2345's avatar

@stemnyjonesmake you pay before leaving: sorry about that. Check this site and this one – it appears that there are over the counter products that are relatively safe for you and your cats. BTW, do not walk barefoot in the house as long as your pets have tapeworm.

stemnyjones's avatar

@bea2345 I think you’re mistaking tapeworms for pinworms or hookworms. You can’t get tapeworms from walking barefoot – it’s the other types of parasidic worms that you can get that way.

rooeytoo's avatar

You only get tapes from eating the stomach of an animal that has them or by eating fleas which are the intermediate host.

In Australia you can buy all worm meds at the grocery store, don’t know about USA. But if you call a vet and tell them your problem, maybe they will just sell you the meds without an office visit. Hopefully some vets still have some compassion in them. If you are near York Pa, I can point you in the right direction.

bea2345's avatar

You pick up stuff on your bare feet – since childhood, barefootedness for us young ones was an absolute no-no. Yes, I am wrong about tapeworm, but do you know that your cats don’t have other parasites? – just be careful. One of my nastier childhood experiences was that of being dewormed.

stemnyjones's avatar

@rooeytoo I’ve called the vet, the pills are $5 for my cat who weighs less than 9 pounds, and $6 for the cat who weighs over $9 pounds. Unfortunately, as I said, I only have $3 and some odd cents. But as soon as we get a paycheck I’ll be out buying a pill.. I was just wondering what the odds were of us being in danger in the meantime.

stemnyjones's avatar

@bea2345 Yes, I am sure they don’t have any other parasites.. last month they had their stools tested, both were negative for everything except tapeworms… and they haven’t been outside or around other animals since.

Vaporeongirl's avatar

It probably is somewhat dangerous to you. However, even if it weren’t, it’s still your responsability to treat your animals medical condition. It’s irresponsible and cruel of you not to.

stemnyjones's avatar

@Vaporeongirl I have at this point treated it. If you read my post, you would see that at that exact moment that I realized he had tapeworms, I had $3. I’m sorry, but I’m going to care for my daughter before I care for the cats. I don’t want to hear about cruelty, I am not cruel to any animals nor have I ever been.

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