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Can I trust the fecal test?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Hi all, need your comments.
I captured a feral cat 46 days ago. I believe it's been in the wild for at least two to three years. Day two I brought a stool sample to the vet to check for worms. Everything checked negative. I was happy to hear this.

Today, my feral cat's 46th day with me, I discovered a dead "round worm" in his very soft stool. I brought the round worm and the stool sample to the vet to have it checked out and get some medicine. I waited at the vets office for the results. Yes it was a round worm and they found eggs also. They gave me "Panacur powder" and instructed me to give one packet for three consecutive days and have the cat tested again in three weeks.

This got me to wonder what I would find in the other fecal I collected earlier this week. I usually double bag the litter for one week and then it goes out in the garbage every Monday. So I put on my dust mask as I usually do and started digging in three days of cat doo.

Well low and behold I found what looks like a dead "tape worm". White in color about 4" long 3/16" wide. The two dead worms I found today were in very soft stool samples. There were nothing in the regular firm stool samples if that means anything.

So what gives with the fecal test? Can I trust the results? I know it's one sample per test, but shouldn't there be eggs of the round worm which they found and the tape worm that they didn't say a thing about? Can I really believe in the results of these tests? Please comment.
post #2 of 42
You can get worming tablets that are edible, and it's probably worth doing it as well as the powder you have because he very likely has both. Tapeworm is caused by fleas, which he is likely to have since you are unable to do an Advantage flea treatment on him.

Talk to your vet about it, and ask if they tested for tape worm. They may have just tested for round worms? I'm sure the vet can give you tape worm meds too. You can also do an edible flea treatment to slip into his food called Capstar which you can get from some pet stores. It kills all the fleas within 24 hours or so, and is a once off treatment - not a 30 day thing like Advantage, but is a great way to just kill off all the fleas. It's pretty amazing, you see them dropping off dead within a couple of hours.
post #3 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thankyou so much for the info. I will talk with my vet tomorrow when I bring him the tapeworm to see. I would assume the fecal test would be for all kinds of worms. Another good question for the vet. Thanks again.
post #4 of 42
Tapes usually don't show up in fecal test, thus can be easily missed. This is because the eggs are in the segments and those aren't shed in every single poop the cat takes. Round worms also have cycles where eggs can be missed if there's younger worms not producing eggs yet.

Any time you take in a cat that's been outside, eating who knows what and walking around in dirt, it's safe to say they will have round worms. Anytime kittens come from a mother cat that has been doing this, again assume the possibility of round worms.
If a cat has or has had fleas, it has tapes.

I took in some kittens a couple months ago that tested negative for worms, too. They were so flea ridden that it was a wonder they weren't severely anemic. They also had the typical round worm pot belly. The vet went ahead and dewormed them for both, because as he put it "the fecal probably missed them".


Round worm eggs get everywhere, too, due to how many eggs can be in just one poo. Whatever areas that cat has been walking around in could have eggs spread to it - so you'll need to clean thoroughly, including bleaching out litter boxes.

An important thing for everyone to remember with fecal tests: Unless the person checking is half blind, you're not going to get a false positive. But you can get a false negative.
post #5 of 42
There are other things a fecal exam can test for like giardia (not a worm but a protozoa). Fortunately, panacur is prescribed for that as well. Our foster kitten had a bloody bottom, but her first fecal exam was clear and a second exam revealed giardiasis. From my experience, I would trust a positive result, but not a negative one. Good for you (and for kitty) that you were observant!
post #6 of 42
I would ask for a new test if my ferals fecals came back negative for all parasites, with their lifestyle, they are always going to have some kind.

As mentioned, some parasites do have cycles where they are not shedding and so will not always show, that is why most shelters deworm all strays regardless of fecal results

I would ask the vet for a broad spectrum dewormer (no recommendation as some of them are different in Canada) do not use the cheaper ones from the petstores, they are not as effective and dont hit all types of parasites
post #7 of 42
As someone who used to be a veterinary assistant, I've read countless fecals, and I can tell you - it's VERY easy to miss a worm under the microscope if the person reading the fecal isn't taking their time and being careful to look at every single bit of the slide! Even then, like other members have replied, some eggs may have not made it into that tiny bit of poo that was used for the test.

(To give you an example, the clinic I worked at actually paid us $2 per worm we found, as an incentive to take our time and really pay attention when reading fecals!)

In your case, with a feral cat that's been outside...I'd have no doubt there were worms. Good for you for being so observant!

Whenever I bring in a new kitty, I always give them a broad spectrum dewormer, regardless of the outcome of the fecal test because, yes, false negatives are common.
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrookeSphynx View Post
To give you an example, the clinic I worked at actually paid us $2 per worm we found, as an incentive to take our time and really pay attention when reading fecals!
I wonder if my vet does this? I take in strays, cats that have been outside and usually have some sort of health issue. I tell them, no fecal - assume they have rounds and tapes since they were outside and had fleas. Just deworm them - we'll check after that to see if it worked. The vet is fine with this, but the techs always try to push for it.
post #9 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thankyou so much sarahp, strange_wings, Going Nova, icklemiss21, and BrookeSphynx, for all the great comments and info. I appreciate it very much. I have now a much better understanding of the fecal test process and that it's not always what you see in the tests that is actually going on inside your kittie.

So I got Panacur for roundworm and Drontal for tapeworm. They don't have any broad spectrum medicine for worms. I didn't get anything for the fleas that might be causing the tapeworms because the only medicine they carry is the type you apply back of the neck. Right now I can't handle my kittie to apply that type of flea control.

As mentioned an edible flea treatment is Capstar. At the vet's office they said that doesn't treat for the eggs but the Capstar will kill the live fleas dead in a short period of time. So do I just retreat as the eggs hatch and for how long or is there something that will kill the eggs that is edible so I can put it in his food? Thanks again.
post #10 of 42
Capstar only kills the adults on the cat at the time, but you can give it daily if necessary.
There's also Program, which prevents the eggs & larvae from developing. That's a monthly oral med.
I don't know whether you can use both together - you'd have to ask your vet.

In the meantime, cleaning will help - vacuum the floors & furniture, wash blankets & such in hot water. You can kill a lot of adult fleas & larvae that way.
post #11 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the "Progam" medicine idea for the eggs and larvae and for the cleaning tips.
post #12 of 42
One last thing on the worms.

Any med, such as Panacur, only kills the adult round worm. I don't know if the vet told you, but it must be administered again in 2-3 weeks (different vets give different advice - we use the 3-week schedule) to wait for the eggs to hatch so you kill the next round of adults. About 2-3 weeks after the 2nd dose, you can take the fecal in for another check.

I've never actually heard of a negative check when there are worms (unless it's giardia - see below), but I guess it happens. Love learning new things!

...and just to set the record straight because it was mentioned, Panacur is not a usual treatment for giardia. Giardia can be difficult to detect and the usual fecal float will not necessarily detect it, BUT if your kitty doesn't have diarrhea, he probably doesn't have giardia. Here's an excellent article on it: http://www.sniksnak.com/cathealth/giardiasis.html
post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
...and just to set the record straight because it was mentioned, Panacur is not a usual treatment for giardia. Giardia can be difficult to detect and the usual fecal float will not necessarily detect it, BUT if your kitty doesn't have diarrhea, he probably doesn't have giardia. Here's an excellent article on it: http://www.sniksnak.com/cathealth/giardiasis.html
Yes, Panacur is the fenbendazole mentioned in the article linked above. It is experimental, but we did have good results when we used it.
post #14 of 42
Oh! The generic name for it! Thanks - didn't know that either!
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
Oh! The generic name for it! Thanks - didn't know that either!
Either did I! I looked it up because one of the vets I used to take Nova to once prescribed a dog medicine to her and it had some pretty awful side effects.

OP, sorry for hijacking your thread! Good luck sorting out kitty's parasites.
post #16 of 42
I did not know about the frequency of fecal false negatives. Very interesting and good to know!
post #17 of 42
Many times like has been mentioned fecals miss things ... alot of human error as humans run the tests and parasites are often tiny .... That being said I only use a wormer when a new cat or dog ( if I have multiples ) comes into the house Unless of course a routine fecal shows something... Wormers are POISONS after all
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
That being said I only use a wormer when a new cat or dog ( if I have multiples ) comes into the house Unless of course a routine fecal shows something... Wormers are POISONS after all
Same here, unless I have a flea outbreak. Though the outdoor kitties do get dewormed more often - one reason being because Boo will eat anything he can catch (even rabbit - I once found an not so lucky rabbits foot. )

My reptiles have been dewormed with fenbendazole, so I'm familiar with it, too... but panacur is easier to spell.
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Many times like has been mentioned fecals miss things ... alot of human error as humans run the tests and parasites are often tiny .... That being said I only use a wormer when a new cat or dog ( if I have multiples ) comes into the house Unless of course a routine fecal shows something... Wormers are POISONS after all
Good point, Sharky, same here - I only use a wormer on a new pet regardless of the outcome, not on the old gang when they have their yearly fecals, unless something shows up.
post #20 of 42
Yeah, my own guys do not get dewormed on a regular basis, apart from when they broke out a foster kitten and shared a litterbox with her I have never even worried about them having positive fecals
post #21 of 42
No, you should not trust a negative fecal. You could still have parasites. The way my vet explained it to me is that a fecal test is only done on a small sample of the stool, it's like a long film that you only cut a part off. There could still be eggs (which is what they look for) in another part of the sample so just because it's negative doesn't mean that the animal has no parasites, just that there was no eggs in the sample they tested. When there is reason to suspect parasites, like with a stray, it's a good idea to do two fecals from two different parts on the stool sample.

In my opinion you should always deworm a cat when it comes in to your home, whether it's off the street, from a shelter or from an owner. It doesn't hurt and is something that should be done on a regular basis anyway. I treat all my new cats with either Frontline or Revolution and Strongid for worms (in my opinion Strongid is the best wormer and it's very cheap too). If they have fleas for sure it's a good idea to treat them with Drontal too since they are very, very likely to have tape worm (from swollowing fleas). I'd still do a fecal on a new cat though to check for things like coccidia and giardia. If it's negative but they have symptoms, like diarrhea, I repeat it.

Good luck with your new kitty.
post #22 of 42
Thread Starter 
Hi LDG,
Thanks for your great insight as usual. I was looking forward to your response plus many here that have so much knowledge and experience that I truly respect.

I got 5-packets of Panacur, 1-per day with another fecal test in 3-weeks. Should I ask for another 5-doses in 3-weeks or rely on the fecal test which isn't 100% accurate? I will inspect his feces every day and see what I find, should be interesting. I wonder if anyone here does their own floating fecal test. Wouldn't be that difficult. Yes, another fecal test 3-weeks after the 2nd round would be a good idea.

This evening he didn't like the Drontal in the soft food. He slicked it but that was all. I left it mixed with the soft food and put it in the refrig. for the morning when he should be good and hungry. Should it be ok? I plan not to microwave it in the morning(might damage it's effectiveness) just set out and warm awhile before feeding. If he won't eat it in the morning i'll have to toss it. Thanks for your help.
post #23 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Going Nova View Post
Either did I! I looked it up because one of the vets I used to take Nova to once prescribed a dog medicine to her and it had some pretty awful side effects.

OP, sorry for hijacking your thread! Good luck sorting out kitty's parasites.
No problem.... i'm not that finicky. I'm just here to learn as much as I can and so far all of you have been so helpful.
post #24 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Many times like has been mentioned fecals miss things ... alot of human error as humans run the tests and parasites are often tiny .... That being said I only use a wormer when a new cat or dog ( if I have multiples ) comes into the house Unless of course a routine fecal shows something... Wormers are POISONS after all
I agree, I took the fecal test as gospel and now I know that it isn't 100% accurate. I always thought too that they tested the whole sample but finding out it's only a small sample of the whole feces you bring in. I'm tempted to do the test myself, can't be that difficult.
post #25 of 42
Thread Starter 
Lizita, thanks for your help.

My feral cat is still a little wild yet and can't be handled so I need powder or pill type medicine. Some that you mentioned are topical I believe but I think Strongid does come in pill form.

It's to bad that the fecal test the way it is performed isn't 100% accurate. This can be very misleading especially in my case were my feral cat tested negative for his fecal test just two days after capture. Now after 47 days I find not only a roundworm but a tapeworm. I plan to do visual self testing of the feces on a regular basis. So far i'm finding that more accurate than the fecal test. Although, visuals with the naked eye can't detect eggs and probably not the small larvae. So I think it's best to do both.

Thanks for your insight and info. It has been very helpful. Sometimes these processes can be puzzling at times and information is very valuable.

Thanks again.
post #26 of 42
Thread Starter 
Now Tabby my feral won't eat.
Yesterday morning I gave him the Panacur powder(for roundworm) in some soft canned food and he ate it. I have 4-more doses to give him each day.

He also has tapeworms so yesterday evening I smashed the two Drontal pills into powder and put it in some soft canned food. He licked on it a little a couple times and then refused to eat any more. I waited awhile but he was having none of that. I wrapped it up a put it in the refrig. for in the morning.

So this morning I air heated it for 10-minutes. Mixed some hard food with it and served. He came within two feet of the food and stopped. He could tell it was the same stuff. He turned around and went back into his hide box. I tried to encourage him to eat but no deal. I heated some extra canned food and put it on top of the mix thinking if he would smell some of the regular soft food he would start to eat. Nope he wouldn't come out of his box to eat. I left it in the cage for 30 minutes but he still refused to eat.

So he hasn't eaten in 24-hrs. so he must be good and hungry but the Drontal he just won't eat even in his favorite soft food(chicken feast). Or it could be the Panacur that is upsetting his system and when he smells the soft canned food it triggers something in his head it's bad food. When I was still feeding him outside, one rainy evening the food got a little soggy and he wouldn't eat that until I put some dry food out and he ate that later on. Must be their survival mode kicking in to warn them of bad food or food that doesen't set well in their stomach.

He had two stools in his litter this morning. One was clear and the other had 16-dead roundworms in it. Here are a couple pix of the worms. It's graphic and sorta gross so beware.
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a1...icture3768.jpg
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a1...icture3769.jpg

I'm going to try the Panacur for roundworms at noon and see if he will eat the medicine/soft food mix. Still have 4-doses to give him. It seems to be working. Hope I can get him to eat the stuff for the next 4-days.

I can't handle Tabby as yet so dry powdered medicine in soft food is the only way I can give it.

I wonder if the soft baby chicken food would work. I bought the chicken dogs in the baby jars. But I was told at the vets that there is some chicken in very small jars that is in more of a paste. Gerber brand.

What type of food do you use to administer the medicine?

Has anyone had trouble with their kittie not eating the medicine?

Thanks.
post #27 of 42
16 in one stool! I know in animals and definitely in humans that sometimes worms aren't detected until they literally cause a intestinal blockage.
I'm wondering if he could possibly have so many worms in him that killing them off with something that doesn't make them reabsorb could have him bound up a bit and not feeling well? Probably something you'd have to talk to the vet about.
post #28 of 42
Pete, I hate to tell you this - but NONE of our cats EVER ate food with meds mixed into it. Ever.

The drontal you may be able to get him to eat if you put it in a pill pocket... but other than scruffing them between my legs when seated on the floor (so they can't back up, which is the natural reaction) and focing the liquid down their throats (yup, the side of my finger forcing their mouths open gets chomped) I don't know how to do it. That's why so many people love Revolution - because it's a heck of a lot easier to quickly squirt a liquid inbetween the shoulders. That said - you still have to be able to touch the cat, because you must spread the hair and get it on the skin, or it just drips off in a greasy mess.

I'm sorry - maybe others have suggestions?

...as to re-testing in three weeks, I wouldn't bother. Round worm we know for sure the treatment only kills the adults, so you just have to assume there are eggs that need to mature. What we do is have the fecal tested three weeks or a month after the 2nd treatment.
post #29 of 42
What about tuna? Human foods? KFC -skin?
post #30 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks, very good point. I think for his next meal i'm going to try his regular food mix and see what happens. I'll give him a third the quantity he normally gets and if he eats it ok i'll give him the second dose of Panacur. Hope he isn't plugged up. His two stools in the litter box were normal, except for the worms.
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