Saturday, February 11, 2012

Worms and Children

Oh how I wish this was a post about earth worms.  I wish this was about my son bringing a pocket of those suckers into the house, and my finding them in the tub, or the fridge...or whatever.

But it's not.

It's about those nasty effing things that animals (like a cat) get in one of several ways...and can spread to children. 

Now, I don't hate animals.  I have a couple of cats and a dog, myself.  And for the time being my BIL is staying with us...and with him he brought his large dog and a cat.  Fine.  It's all good...BUT...

It's his cat that has worms...and so will be referred to from  here on in as Worm Cat.

**I mentioned that I don't hate animals because I'm angry, and will very likely say something that's not politically correct about him (the cat)...and so I don't want you thinking I'm one of those mean people that hate animals.  I don't.  But when this kind of shit happens, I sure like them a whole lot less.  (See?  That last comment is what I'm talking's very not typically me...but you'll see why I'm mad.)**

I shouldn't have ever had to Google "How do I find out if my kids have worms?", and "Can my cat give my children worms?"
Our own cats are healthy.  Well taken care of.  Indoor cats...fixed...and we spent the money when we brought them inside, to make sure we never had to worry about this.  A LOT of money.

And then Worm Cat came to live with us.

Before I go too far, I want to explain a few things so you can understand.  First, Worm Cat belonged to my MIL.  Bless her soul, she had a HUGE heart.  She was known for taking in strays...animal and human.  She was one of the biggest animal lovers I've ever known.  Even when she passed away, we had the donations set up to go straight to the O.S.P.C.A.  She would have wanted it that way.  She never met a cat or dog she didn't love...and want to keep.

It used to be different.  She used to be fine when she had K.C. (my husband's cat), and her cat Izzy.  I had my own cat, Jesse, there too.

It was fine for her to have her two, and she never ever even spoke about getting another cat.  My husband and I got a dog a year and a half into being together, and he lived with us too.  It was just the three cats and our dog.  It was NORMAL.  It was about three years in, that my BIL moved back into the house with us.  Fine.  Normal.  (Mostly.)

Then we moved and took our dog, and Jesse.  My husband's cat had cancer and had to be put down right before we moved into our first place.  She still had her Izzy, and they got a puppy, Leo.  Fine.  Normal.

It was all fine until about 3 years ago.  She had a young girl living with her, and that girl got a cat.  She didn't take care of it, and would kick it, so my MIL took it away from her.  When that girl left, the cat stayed.

Then she got a male kitten from her sister.  The female she had was about a year old at that time, and the male was almost a year.  Long story short, two kittens came from a poorly planned out decision.

From the start she talked about wanting to keep the kittens.  I would try to be the voice of reason...she couldn't even afford to take the two she had to the vet...more females in a house with an un-fixed male would be more kittens.  So, instead of getting rid of those kittens to one of the MANY people who offered to take them, she got the male fixed and kept the kittens.  She was up to four cats.

Then her boyfriend found a box with a kitten in it on a walk.  He took her over to my MIL's house, and she kept her.  Five cats.  Only the male had ever been to the vet.  And the cats all started getting fleas.

Again, long story short, they all got worms.  (Which I've read are caused by infected fleas...probably caught from the dog who is walked in the bush near her house.)

When she passed away suddenly in November, we were all stuck dealing with these animals.  My BIL and his dog moved in right away, and after a week of daily visits to the house to feed and water the cats, the decision was made to take four of them (the females) to the O.S.P.C.A.  They would have a chance for a better life there...they'd get the medical care they all needed so badly.  And Worm Cat came here.

He's had worms since time began, I think.  As far as I know, it's just always been that way.  And now he's nasty.  He has either small worms, or worm segments coming out of his butt, sticking to his fur...  It's so effing gross that I kind of hate him now.

The first thing I said was that he would infect my kids.  And THAT is where my concern lies...with my HUMAN children.  He lays on the furniture.  He lays on their BEDS.  He is super-affectionate, so he WANTS to be touched all the time, and I have to put him out of the room all the time, because the kids want to touch him too!

Anyways, tomorrow he's going to the vet to FINALLY be dealt with.  He's going to get the medication I've been freaking out about him needing since November.  And if all goes well, he'll finally be healthy and live a long life.  (Hopefully not at our house...hopefully when my BIL leaves he'll take his cat...but I don't know.)

And now that Worm Cat has lived here so long, chances are that ALL of the animals are going to need to be treated for worms as well...just to be safe.  That is also something that is pissing me off, because we're going to have to pay for our cats to go to the vet when it wasn't OUR fault that they were exposed to worms in the first place.  Well...not MY fault, anyway.
(A grown man crying about a cat was too much for my husband to handle, and he said that the cat could come here...expecting that he'd have been taken to the vet LONG ago...)

Once they've all been treated, I am going to have to take the children to my Dr.  (He's an ass.)  I'm going to have to get him to test the feces of all of the children, and if any of them have worms...oh, I'll be SO MAD...all of them are going to have to be treated...and myself, my husband, and my BIL are going to have to be's THAT easy to spread it.

I've tried SO HARD to make sure my kids get only GOOD things in their bodies...we've avoided antibiotics, we stopped vaccinating them YEARS ago...and if they caught what the cat has, they're going to have to take something to kill these worms!!  GRRRR!!!!!!

So I'm irritated.  Highly irritated.  And it makes me hate the cat...and the situation...and my BIL for not listening to me when I TOLD him that the cat could infect MY CHILDREN months ago, and he did nothing.

I do my very best everyday not to be a bitch.  Some days it takes more work than others...and today is one of those days that it's not easy.  But I think I have the right to be mad.  I think I have the right to WANT to scream "You dumbass!  I TOLD YOU MONTHS AGO TO TAKE HIM IN!!!!!"

I won't scream that.  But that doesn't mean I haven't thought it about a hundred times today.

So I'll update the blog post once I know for sure what's going on.  But for now...for now I'm angry, and hate the cat.

UPDATE:  Feb. 11, 2012

So Worm Cat went to the vet yesterday.  Thankfully what he has are indeed tapeworms.  (Still effing gross...but could be worse.)  He got a dose of meds between his shoulder blades, and is being quarantined for 24 hours in my BIL's room...if the other cats lick the medication, they can get's not meant to be taken orally.  So whatever.  Cat is on the road to recovery.

So, before I go, here's what I learned.

The way that the cat got the tapeworms was from an infected flea, and he ingested it while grooming.

The white nasty things coming out of his butt are worm segments.  Yum.  (GAG!)

If humans get it, it's a single oral dose of meds to kill the worm(s).  It may need to be repeated one more time after any eggs that remain are hatched, because the eggs cannot be killed by the medication...only the worms themselves die from it.

It's UNCOMMON for humans to get tapeworms, and I've read time and time again "I haven't seen it in 20 years of practicing medicine", and "there have been no cases of tapeworms in this country for many years."
Lets hope my kids don't change the record books...

It is much more likely that if a child gets worms, the worms they get are called Pinworms...or "threadworms".

"Threadworms are the common worms that we encounter in everyday practice. They cause no symptoms apart from an itchy bottom that can disrupt sleep at night. The threadworms can exit through the anus and irritate the skin. Sometimes they can be seen just like small threads around the anal region. So the parent who questions if a disturbed night’s sleep could be due to worms might well be right."  Found HERE.

"Pinworm infections (also known as "seatworm infection," "threadworm infection," "enterobiasis," or "oxyuriasis") are contagious.
People become infected by unknowingly ingesting microscopic pinworm eggs that can be found on contaminated hands and surfaces, such as:
  • bed linens
  • towels
  • clothing (especially underwear and pajamas)
  • toilets
  • bathroom fixtures
  • food
  • drinking glasses
  • eating utensils
  • toys
  • kitchen counters
  • desks or lunch tables at school
  • sandboxes
The eggs pass into the digestive system and hatch in the small intestine. From the small intestine, pinworm larvae continue their journey to the large intestine, where they live as parasites — their heads attached to the inside wall of the bowel.
About 1 to 2 months after a person acquires the pinworm eggs, adult female pinworms begin migrating from the large intestine to the area around the rectum. There, they will lay new pinworm eggs, which trigger itching around the rectum.
When someone scratches the itchy area, microscopic pinworm eggs are transferred to their fingers. Contaminated fingers can then carry pinworm eggs to the mouth, where they are reingested, or to various surfaces, where they can live for 2 to 3 weeks.
If you're wondering if your family pet could give your child a pinworm infection, it can't. Pinworms don't come from animals."

The above information was found HERE.

What Are the Most Common Types of Worms in Cats? 
  • Roundworms are the most common internal parasites in cats. Resembling spaghetti, adult worms are three to four inches long. There are several ways cats can become infected. Nursing kittens can get roundworms from an infected mother’s milk, while adult cats can acquire them by ingesting an infected rodent or the feces of an infected cat.
  • Hookworms are much smaller than roundworms—less than an inch long—and reside primarily in the small intestine. Because they feed on an animal’s blood, hookworms can cause life-threatening anemia, especially in kittens. Hookworm eggs are passed in the stool and hatch into larvae, and a cat can become infected either through ingestion or skin contact. Please note, hookworms are more common in dogs than in cats.
  • Long and flat, tapeworms are segmented parasites and range from 4 to 28 inches in length. An infestation can cause vomiting or weight loss. Cats acquire tapeworms by ingesting an intermediate host, like an infected flea or rodent. When cats are infected, tapeworm segments—actual pieces of the worm that resemble grains of rice—can often be seen on the fur around a cat’s hind end.
  • Unlike intestinal parasites, lungworms reside in the lungs of a cat. Most cats will not show any signs of having lungworms, but some can develop a cough. Snails and slugs are popular intermediate hosts of this type of parasite, but cats are usually infected after eating a bird or rodent who has ingested an intermediate host.

Can I Catch Worms from My Cat? 
Yes! A large number of roundworm eggs can accumulate where cats defecate. People, especially children, who ingest such eggs can develop serious health problems, such as blindness. In fact, roughly 10,000 children are infected with roundworms each year. 

That information was taken from the ASPCA website.


So what shouldn't even need to be said, but obviously needs to be, is if your pet has worms, take them to the vet for treatment ASAP.  Homeopathic remedies are best left to other problems.  This is one time your cat needs medicine from the actual vet.  Each kind of worm requires specialized treatments, specific to that type.  Treating a cat for roundworm when they have tapeworms is just going to cost you money, and do nothing for the cat.  And every day your pet has worms, is a day you are exposing children to the risk of getting them.

For the record, I don't hate Worm Cat.  But I'll sure like him a lot better when he isn't putting my kids at risk.

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