What are roundworms in cats?
Roundworms are little worm parasites that infest cats. They get ingested as eggs, either from the soil, grooming, or they can be transfered from mother to kitten through nursing. They infest multiple organs of the cat throughout their life cycle, including the liver, the lungs, and the intestines. The life cycle involves larva moving back and forth from these organs - starting in the intestine as eggs, moving to the liver and growing there, then to the lungs, then going into the throat and getting swallowed back into the intestine to lay eggs again.
That's a pretty damaging process to the cat's body and understandably has a lot of ill effects. Coughing, vomiting, consumption of key nutrients that can lead to a "pot-bellied" look, and pneumonia caused by the worms in the lungs are all symptoms. The worms can infect people, but children are mainly at risk. You get them by eating them, and children will often eat dirt that cats have played in, thus consuming the eggs. An adult who has some common sense should be fine - but if you get them, they are very serious in people and need to be dealt with immediately.
Detection of roundworms in cats is mainly done by watching the vomit and the feces. If the cat coughs up a long, sphagetti looking worm, it's got roundworms. They can also come out in the feces, so watch there as well. You can have the feces tested by your vet as well to be 100% sure, and a visit to the vet is definitely a good idea if the cat shows any of those symptoms anyway.
You can get rid of them pretty easily using deworming medicines, and your vet can give you a prescription. Be prepared to be grossed out though, because the usual method is to numb the worm so it loses it's grip on the intestines. This means the cat's feces will have lots of live worms coming out in it - they'll die outside the cat, but they'll be alive for awhile and wiggling around. You'll likely need to go through several rounds of deworming, because there are still other larva in the liver and lungs going through the life cycle. When they get to the intestines as adults, they'll get killed as well and the cycle will stop.
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