Content continues after advertisement

Tapeworms = Intestinal Obstruction?

Heather Troyer, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Canine & Feline Practice)


|September 2009

Sign in to Print/View PDF

Taenia taeniaeformis, a common tapeworm of cats found worldwide, is transmitted via ingestion of the intermediate rodent host.The prepatent period of this tapeworm ranges from 32 to 80 days, and adults can live up to 3 years in the feline small intestine,measuring up to 60 cm long. The cat featured in this article was a barn cat with regular access to rodent prey.The cat presented for acute vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, and dyspnea.After blood analysis and radiography, the cat underwent surgery that explored the abdomen for a possible gastrointestinal obstruction. The intestines appeared plicated, and a moderate amount of serous abdominal effusion was present. Four enterotomies were created along the antimesenteric border of the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum to remove a“linear foreign body” later identified as approximately 30 adult T taeniaeformis cestodes.The cestodes weighed 6 g (or 0.1% the cat’s body weight). Abdominal fluid was examined cytologically for evidence of sepsis, but no bacteria or polymorphonucleocytes were found.No adhesions, strangulation, torsion, or intussusceptions were visualized, and the surgical opening was closed routinely.The patient was eating and was released 48 hours later; it was subsequently dewormed 10 days after surgery with a broad-spectrum anthelmintic.


Of note, no other report of small intestinal obstruction by tapeworm infections in cats appears to have been published. However, prevalence of feline tapeworm infections is as high as approximately 50% in some parts of the world.Unfortunately, detection of tapeworms in the stool is more challenging than with other intestinal parasites for a few reasons. First, cat feces are not examined as commonly as that of dogs. Second, tapeworm proglottids are not found diffusely throughout a sample and can be easily missed. Because some species of tapeworms are zoonotic, it is important to remember to regularly deworm cats as well as dogs and to annually examine feces. In addition, note that common antiparasitic preventive measures (such as for heartworm disease) do not treat tapeworm infections; thus, quarterly treatment of an outdoor/hunting cat with additional anthelmintics such as praziquantel should be considered. —Heather Troyer, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Canine & Feline Practice)


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

All Clinician's Brief content is reviewed for accuracy at the time of publication. Previously published content may not reflect recent developments in research and practice.

Material from Clinician's Brief may not be reproduced, distributed, or used in whole or in part without prior permission of Educational Concepts, LLC. For questions or inquiries please contact us.


Clinician's Brief:
The Podcast
Listen as host Alyssa Watson, DVM, talks with the authors of your favorite Clinician’s Brief articles. Dig deeper and explore the conversations behind the content here.
Clinician's Brief provides relevant diagnostic and treatment information for small animal practitioners. It has been ranked the #1 most essential publication by small animal veterinarians for 9 years.*

*2007-2017 PERQ and Essential Media Studies

© 2023 Educational Concepts, L.L.C. dba Brief Media ™ All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | DMCA Copyright | Privacy Policy | Acceptable Use Policy