Everyone was totally grossed out by the tapeworm because it was very long, and it looked kind of like spaghetti or maybe a rice noodle. One other time, Mom found a piece of tapeworm coming out of Mickey's butt, and it was about an inch long. Dr. Regan said that Mickey could not possibly have a tapeworm because the only way you can get tapeworms is by eating a flea that has tapeworm eggs in it, and Mickey was too young to be grooming himself and swallowing fleas. Dr. Regan said maybe the worm Mom saw was a roundworm, and Mom decided that Dr. Regan was right.
But this time Mom was very sure that the worm she saw was a tapeworm because it was flat and had segments. Then when Dr. Regan saw the worm, she agreed that it was most definitely a tapeworm. But she said she had never seen one in a kitten as young as Mickey.
Oh, and guess what else! It turns out that our little boy kitten Mickey is really a GIRL kitten! So Mickey is now Mickie. Of course, I knew all along that Mickie was a girl because she smelled like a girl, but Mom is only a silly human, so she didn't figure this out. Actually, when the lady first brought Mickie to the shelter, Aunt Tania and Aunt Nancy thought she was a girl. Then after a week or so, they decided maybe some boy parts were showing up, so they changed Mickie to Mickey. But now those humans finally know that Mickie was really Mickie all along, and she is a girl, just like me.
Okay, but getting back to tapeworms, the kind you get by eating a flea are the Dipylidium caninum species. There is another kind of tapeworm you can get by eating a mouse or rat. Dr. Regan thinks the only way Mickie could have got her tapeworm was by swallowing a flea while she was nursing on her mama. Because her mama was a feral cat and was probably covered with fleas.
Here's the way that fleas get tapeworms in them: first a dog or cat who has tapeworms poops out some little capsule things that have a bunch of worm eggs in them. After that, flea larvae eat the eggs, and then the grown-up flea has the eggs inside it. And when an animal swallows a flea while chewing on an itchy flea bite, the tapeworm eggs go down inside the intestines, which is just the homey kind of place they like to hatch out and grow to be nice and long, and then they make more eggs.
Anyway, Mickie is so little that they don't even make doses of tapeworm dewormer that small. So Dr. Regan had to just guess how much to give her. So now Mickie has had some medicine, and maybe it will kill off her tapeworms, which were probably making her feel not so good anyway. Plus the tapeworms were keeping her from getting all the good nutritious stuff from her food.
Another thing Dr. Regan said was that Mickie might be older than she looks because she might not be growing as fast and as big as she is supposed to. This is what's called Failure to Thrive, and it makes a kitten or puppy kind of puny.
When Mom brought the kittens back home from the shelter, she picked Mickie up to feed her, and there was another tapeworm crawling out of her! This one was only about 3" long, but Mom took a picture of it, too. She put a quarter in the picture so that you can tell what size the tapeworm is. I think maybe Mom is getting a little carried away taking pictures of yucky things like tapeworms. But that is just my opinion, which I am happy to give, even if nobody asked for it.
Mom worries a lot about poor little Mickie because Mickie's kitty mom abandoned her, so that might mean the kitty mom knew something was wrong with Mickie, even if humans can't tell what it is. This is what happened with Carson, our first foster kitten that we got last year. Maybe you will remember that Carson turned out to be blind and also he had some other problems that made him walk in circles all the time. And sadly, that is why he had to be put to sleep.
So we keep getting reminded of Carson when we look at Mickie, because even though she can see and walk better than Carson could, she might have something else wrong with her that will make her die at a young age. Which would be a horrible, tragic thing that we don't want to happen.