In the beginning I fully intended to write a funny post about tapeworms. But then…Well, to be honest, I couldn’t come up with anything even remotely funny…So my conclusion has to be: there is simply no humor to be found in intestinal worms…Though I did find the following joke (I edited it a bit to make it a bit, er, more “palatable” for the blog…): 

A guy went to a doctor because he felt sick and was losing weight. The doctor told him he had a tapeworm and instructed him to bring a muffin, a Twinkie and a cookie with him on his next visit. “Trust me. I know what I’m doing,” said the doctor to his baffled patient. 
During the following visit, the doctor gently pushed the muffin, the Twinkie and, finally, the cookie into the patient’s rear end. The patient protested, but the doctor reassured him, saying it was part of the therapy.
This treatment continued for several weeks…
The doctor finally instructed the patient to bring a muffin, a Twinkie AND a mallet on the next visit.
The day arrived, and this time the doctor inserted only the muffin and the Twinkie.
After a few minutes, the tapeworm stuck its head out of the guy’s rear end and demanded, “Where’s my cookie???!!!!”


That’s about as funny as you’ll get with a tapeworm (sorry if I grossed you out!!!). And…no, no, no…I don’t have tapeworms. Neither does Stefano. Uhm, I’ll give you ONE more guess (hint: see photo).

Yep, it’s our new kitten, Prezzemolo. 

And this is how we found out (no mallets involved, though!)…

Last Friday, after we both got home from work, Stefano asked me to have a look at some, er, stuff he’d spotted on Prezzemolo’s blanket (which, by the way, happens to cover Stefano, too, at night…).

The “stuff” looked very much like sesame seeds. Stefano thought it might just be some dry kitty snot (that is, nothing to worry about), but I thought it looked a bit weird. So I put together a sample, which I took to the vets immediately (by the way, we have two vets, a man and a woman, who work in the same office, just so you don’t get confused when I sometimes refer to a “he,” sometimes to a “she”).

“It’s tapeworm,” the vet said, as soon as he set eyes on the sample.

“Tapewhaaaaaat?????” I repeated, stunned, horrified and totally grossed out.

“Tapeworm,” he repeated (tenia, in Italian)…

Well, there are actually two “positive” things about tapeworms: 1. We can’t catch ’em from our cats unless we ingest a fresh, still wriggly tapeworm segment (full of eggs, bleah) or a tapeworm-infected flea (double bleah)…both scenarios = extremely UNLIKELY; 2. Tapeworms can be dealt with relatively easily—two pills, one administered immediately, another after 20 days.

“Two pills, just two pills. How hard can that be?” I thought to myself. Famous last words. 

The two tapeworm pills come together in one box, which is extremely convenient…that is, IF you can get both of them down your cat’s throat. So here follows some advice, based on personal experience: it’s pointless to grind up the pill and mix it with any sort of palatable cat food. It won’t work. We tried not one but TWO types of food that Prezzemolo normally adores. But no, he wouldn’t go within a mile of the tapeworm-medicated food, even though he had been taking his antibiotic the same way for ages (oh, for the record, he’s been off antibiotics since last week…).

Well, we gave up in the end (“tough love” didn’t work!)…threw away both mixes…and bought another box of tapeworm pills…

The following morning I phoned the vet and told her the Prezzemolo pill story. “We are totally inept, good-for-nothing parents!” I wailed. She laughed and agreed to help us.

When we got to her office, she said, “don’t worry, this will be easy. I can do it alone.” She held our little Prezzemolo with one hand, and with the other she gently pried his jaws open and deftly popped a pill down his throat, quickly closing his mouth and keeping it shut. Then she tried to squirt some water into the side of his mouth to make him swallow the pill…

And that’s when things got really ugly. Prezzemolo turned into a kung fu master of every single “squirm, twist, wriggle and spit-out-pill” technique known to cats and cobras. And it wasn’t long before the sharp kung fu claws came out, too. Stefano rushed over to help the vet…

Well, I don’t want to bore you, but it took three attempts to get enough of the pill inside of Kung Fu Prezzemolo…which leads me to ask the obvious questions: 1. why oh why can’t drug companies come up with a super easy system to give medicine of any sort to our kitties? 2. Why oh why do we have to traumatize our furry babies with bitter-tasting pills or impossibly huge, hard-to-swallow pills?

It makes no sense…

In my opinion, ALL pet medications should be like Ibaflin 3%, which is a palatable sort of antibiotic gel that you mix with something your cat/pet loves (I mix it with the hairball remedy that my cats love more than anything), then stick on the tip of your finger. My cats will lick it right off my finger. Easy peasy.

Well, as you can see, our sick feline saga continues…Oh wait, and here’s another thing: the vet told us that Prezzemolo’s snotty nose is probably going to be a CHRONIC condition. Lovely. She prescribed lysine for it, which means it’s a herpes-based virus. Great. Super. Fabulous.

Sigh. 😉

But next weekend, if all goes well (= no “sesame seeds” in sight, that is!), we’re going to introduce Prezzemolo to the others…finally! So I’m feeling positive…at least, right now I am… 😉


  1. I would imagine it will be awhile before you sprinkle sesamee seeds on your food 🙂

    Good you came up with a new business venture…
    for kitties worldwide..your kung fu expert, now that he has proved his acting abilites, will be the STAR of the advertisement for your NEW product.

  2. I definitely am going to go ahead and start making more of those canvas cat-pill-popper covers! Been there with the kung fu kitty moves – ouch!! Glad things are improving… and yes, that was a gross, but funny, story…!!!

  3. Hi Margaret,

    Dietamaceous earth is a common remedy for tapeworms in cats and dogs. Dietamaceous earth is typically used in pool water filtration systems and is available in food grade for animal and human consumption. Here is a link to information about its use. Interesting information!


    You might want to save this link for future use as worms can be spread to other animals in the same environment as the infected animal. Sometimes worming medications do not fully eradicate the worms on the initial treatment or the eggs persist or reinfect and you did say that you are planning on exposing the other cats to Prezzemolo soon so given the difficulty of administering the prescription medication, this link may be useful not too far down the road. The DE sounds much easier to administer and may have other health benefits for cats and dogs!

    Best wishes!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *