Hookworm Life Cycle
The hookworm life cycle is set out below. I have recently built a page on deworming cat treatments and earlier a page on cat parasites. I must be obsessed with them! This page follows in that tradition. Several species of hookworm can infect domestic cats. They are blood sucking parasites and one species, the most common in the USA can cause serious blood loss in young kittens.
Hookworm Life Cycle2
Larvae that are infective are either ingested by a cat or the larvae penetrate the cat’s skin.
The ingested larvae then travel to the small intestine. Larvae that have penetrated the skin travel to the intestine via the bloodstream to the lungs then coughed into the small intestine via the oesophagus.
In young cats the larva develop into adults in the small intestine and attach to the mucosa (mucous membranes are linings of mostly endodermal origin, covered in epithelium, which are involved in absorption and secretion1). In some adult cats the penetrating larvae are stopped and deposited as encysted larvae in body tissues.
In young cats hookworms in the intestine feed on blood. This causes blood loss and feline anemia. In adult cats where the larvae remain inactive (see above) they do not cause disease.
Adult female hookworms that are attached to the mucous membrane produce eggs
Hookworm eggs are passed into the cat or kitten’s feces where they enter the outside environment.
Eggs hatch in warm and humid conditions. The larvae develop into infective stage after about one week.
Larvae that are infective are ingested by the cat or the penetrate the cat’s skin.
1. Wikipedia authors
2. The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health by Linda P Case