What To Do If Your Cat Has Worms & How To Avoid Them
Think your cat has worms? Find out how to tell for sure and how to treat them is she does.
The bad news: Intestinal worms in cats are very common. The good news: Theyre relatively easy to treat, and most cats make a full recovery. Plus, there are simple steps you can take to prevent worms in cats and help protect your pet from these parasites.
How To Identify Worms In A Cat
This article was co-authored by Brian Bourquin, DVM. Brian Bourquin, better known as Dr. B to his clients, is a Veterinarian and the Owner of Boston Veterinary Clinic, a pet health care and veterinary clinic with three locations, South End/Bay Village, the Seaport, and Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston Veterinary Clinic specializes in primary veterinary care, including wellness and preventative care, sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, dentistry. The clinic also provides specialty services in behavior, nutrition, and alternative pain management therapies using acupuncture, and therapeutic laser treatments. Boston Veterinary Clinic is an AAHA accredited hospital and Bostons first Fear Free Certified Clinic. Brian has over 19 years of veterinary experience and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 20 testimonials and 94% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 623,929 times.
Are Worms Visible In My Cat’s Stool And If So What Do They Look Like
They can be sometimes. It typically takes a while for worms to become visible because you’d have to have enough that they’re starting to kind of run out of room and need to pass through. Roundworms tend to look more like spaghetti. Hookworms look like short little rice noodles, so they’re very thin. Both of them are white. In the case of tapeworms, we primarily only see the egg sacs come out, which are these little segments that look like small pieces of rice. You may find dried worms on your cats around their anus or their fur or even in the litter box. But you may not ever see an issue, and that’s why regular stool sample checks are essential.
Recommended Reading: Is Lavender Plant Safe For Cats
Can All Intestinal Parasites Be Prevented
That’s a tough question. Yes and no. For the most part, if we are cautious about our deworming protocols and exposure, then I would say we can prevent it in almost all cases. That being said, cats are cats. They get into things. They don’t always follow the rules. And so there are going to be situations where they catch a mouse that we’re not aware of or drink out of something outside that we’re not aware of, and they could come up with intestinal parasites.
What To Do If Your Cat Has Worms
Cats provide the best company. They’re always there, for better or for worse. But lately if you’ve noticed that your cat has less vitality, has a reduced appetite and sleeps for hours, it might be that your cat has worms. At OneHowTo.com we give you guidelines to follow if you want to know what to do if your cat has worms. Take care of your pet!
The first step is knowing how the cat has gotten worms. Small cats might have worms because their mother had them too. In this case the cat’s parasites are inherited from its mother. For cats that are very playful, it could also be that other cats gave them worms.
Most adult cats can get worms from eating the feces of other cats who are infected themselves, or from contact with other animals who also have worms.
The second step is to know what worms in cats are. They are intestinal worms that are not visible to the naked eye and require a thorough examination to determine whether or not they are there.
The most common types of worms in cats are tapeworms and roundworms the first thing you will find if you examine your cat’s feces will be round and white pieces, like a grain of rice.
The third step is to know the symptoms of worms in cats to find out if yours is suffering from this infection. The most common is that the cat’s fur looks lackluster and unhealthy, it may also be that the cat is more sleepy than usual and has little desire to move other symptoms are pale gums or vomiting and diarrhea.
Read Also: Puffy Pad Disease In Cats
Clean Regularly To Keep Worms Away
Preventive measures are one of the best cures for any disease. So, disinfect your house often, clean the litter box regularly, and wash the water and food bowls. Moreover, you should check your cat for fleas regularly to prevent tapeworms.
Furthermore, you should try to keep your cat indoors. Outdoors cats hunt rodents that could be infected with worms. In addition to this, outdoor pets dig in gardens and soil, and the risk of contracting worms is greater. Not to mention that your kitty might come home full of fleas and ticks.
When To Begin Deworming Treatments In Kittens
In contrast to puppies, kittens are not born already infected with worms, but they can contract them from their mothers milk. Because of this risk, deworming treatment for a kitten typically begins from a young age.
Deworming treatments are available that help kill many types of intestinal worms commonly found in cats. Be sure to read the label carefully or talk to your vet to learn the age at which kittens can begin treatment with your deworming product of choice. Most products can safely be used on kittens age eight or nine weeks and older, though some are safe for kittens as young as six weeks of age.
If your kitten is younger than the recommended age listed on a dewormer, contact your veterinarian.
Don’t Miss: Why Does My Cat Squint At Me
When To Begin Worming Treatments In Kittens
In contrast to dogs, kittens are not born with worm larvae already present in their gut, but they can contract them from their mothers milk. Because of this risk, worming treatment should begin from a young age.
Worming treatments such as Drontal® worming tablets for cats kill every type of intestinal worm commonly found in cats. Worming treatment with Drontal can begin once kittens are six weeks old, and needs to be repeated at 8 weeks of age. Once your kitten is 9 weeks of age they can start on monthly Advocate® which will then continue to control intestinal nematode worms, and in addition: fleas, heartworm and lungworms.
Regular worming treatments will ensure your kitty stays happy, healthy and safe from worms throughout its nine lives as a cat.
Which Intestinal Worms Infect Cats
There are several types of intestinal worms that can infect cats, each with its own set of unique features, Jessica Nichols, DVM, chief veterinary officer of Spay and Neuter Kansas City in Kansas City, Mo, says. Here are the three most common parasites:
Roundworms. Roundworms are long, brown round worms that look like cooked spaghetti, Nichols says. She adds that theyre the most common intestinal parasite in kittens, and kittens are infected more often than adults.
Tapeworms. Tapeworms are long, white, flat, segmented parasites with hook-like mouth parts that they use to attach themselves to the intestinal walls of cats. Segments of adult tapeworms will break off and end up in the infected cats poop. These proglottids look like grains of rice that move, and they are commonly seen in the poop or around the rear end of infected cats, Nichols says. They eventually break open and release tapeworm eggs into the environment.
Hookworms. Nichols says that hookworms are less common in cats than roundworms and tapeworms, which is good because theyre particularly nasty parasites. Unlike other worms that eat food and drink materials floating around the cats intestines, hookworms hook their teeth into the small intestines and suck blood, she says.
Whipworms. These can infect the intestines of cats, but according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, this rarely happens in North America. Feline whipworms are more common in tropical regions.
Also Check: How To Get Matts Out Of Cat Hair
Why Dont Standard Dewormers Kill Tapeworms
Tapeworms require a medication called Praziquantel, which is not typically present in standard dewormers. Pet Coachs Angel Alvarado, LVT describes Praziquantels effects as such:
Praziquantel, and similar drugs, work by dissolving the tapeworms skin. This is effective in killing the parasite since they absorb nutrients through the skin. Other parasites have heads or mouth parts through which they feed. Other dewormers interfere with larval, egg or adult development or actually cause paralysis to kill parasites.
Basically, the tapeworm cannot survive losing its skin. This effect is also seen in cleaning products like Bean & Lily where surfactants are used to break down bacteria walls. Without its skin to hold it together, the bacteria dies.
Think of Praziquantel as the needle that breaks the skin of a water balloon. Without latex rubber to hold its shape, the water goes everywhere.
Check Your Cats Stool
Good if you are not the type of a squeamish cat parent because you wont mind looking into your cats feces from which you can find evidence of worms. These may be visible, too around its anal area and even on the beddings.
Worms in cats are varying sizes, but the most common are the roundworms which could be around 3 to 5 inches long. These worms are white to light brown.
Then theres the tapeworm that could also be spotted on the feces and near the anal area. These are usually pale yellow and are about 4 to 28 inches in length while fresh and stretched out. But they dry out upon leaving your cats body making it difficult for you to spot.
However, if you see some dry segments that look like sesame seeds or grain of rice, it is a sure sign of tapeworms in cats. You can see these stuck on your cats coat along the anal area.
In severe cases, your cat may also vomit a bunch of worms that look like spaghetti noodles.
Read Also: Blue Buffalo Can Cat Food
Symptoms Of Worms In Cats
Take your cat to the clinic for a fecal test and to discuss starting a deworming therapy with your veterinarian if you believe your cat has worms.
Dewormers for cats are available in two forms: topically and orally.
The following are some of the most frequent worm infection symptoms in cats:
How Do Cats Get Worms
Cats most commonly contract worms after coming into contact with parasite eggs or infected feces.
A cat may walk through an area with eggs or infected feces, and since cats are often such fastidious groomers, they will then ingest the eggs or fecal particles as they clean their fur and feet.
This can occur in indoor cats as easily as it can in outdoor cats, particularly if multiple cats share a litter box that is contaminated with infected feces.
Cats that live outdoors and regularly hunt small rodents are also at a higher risk of contracting worms because the worms can live in the muscle tissues of their prey.
After eating a rodent thats infected with worm larvae, a cat can develop a worm infestation as those larvae develop to maturity in the cats intestines.
You May Like: How Do I Get Mats Out Of My Cats Fur
How Worms In Cats Are Diagnosed & Treated
Before your cat can receive treatment for worms, a stool test must be performed by a trained veterinarian so the proper deworming medication can be prescribed. Expect the process to take a few days.
Then, a follow-up visit three to four weeks later confirms that all worms have been eliminated from your pets system. To prevent another episode, consider keeping your cat indoors or start using preventative wormer medication.
What Happens If Worms Go Untreated In Cats
Worm infestations that are left untreated can be dangerous, even fatal, for your cat.
Migration of larvae through the organs and tissues of the body as they make their way to the intestine could result in severe skin infections, blindness, convulsions, or pneumonia, depending on the path of larval migration.
Ongoing losses of blood and vital nutrients, which should be absorbed by the intestines, can result in progressive anemia, weight loss, dehydration, and death.
Recommended Reading: How To Train A Cat To Do Tricks
Understanding Kitten Worms: Symptoms And Treatments
For newborn kittens, worms are common dangers. The internal parasites cause malnutrition, dehydration and anemia. Whether you are dealing with intestinal worms or troublesome heartworm, cats and kittens need dewormers before the infestation leads to serious health issues.
Revolution prevents all parasites including heartworm, fleas, hookworms, ear mites and roundworms. With one medication, you prevent and kill a number of troublesome kitten worms.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Worms In Cats
Both indoor and outdoor cats, old and young, can contract worms. Adults can contract worms from contaminated feces, fleas, or rodents, while younger kittens can be exposed to worms through nursing.
The following symptoms are signs that your cat may be infested:
Visible presence: For many cat owners, the first sign will be a visible presence of worms. You may see whole worms, parts of worms or worm eggs in your pets stool or vomit. Worms or eggs can also sometimes migrate to a cats anus, getting stuck in the fur.
Change in coat: If your cat is infested with a parasite, their fur may appear dull, rumpled or clumped due to lack of nutrients or dehydration.
Change in color of gums: The gums of a healthy cat should be nice and pink, but if they appear pale or white, your cat may be experiencing anemia, due to the worms.
Vomiting: Vomiting is a common occurrence in cats, but if its happening more frequently than usual, worms could be the culprit.
Change in stool / bowel movements: Dark, tarry stool indicates the presence of blood, potentially from hookworms. Worms in the gut can also cause diarrhea.
Increased appetite despite weight loss: As the worms deprive your cat of vital nutrients, they need to take in more food in order to try to maintain their body condition.
If you notice any of the above signs, its important to have your cat examined by your vet immediately.
Also Check: How Old Is A 12 Year Old Cat
Can Humans Be Infected By The Worms
Some types of worms can be spread between cats and people. For example, the eggs from some of the roundworms can be ingested accidentally, with the result that the egg may hatch and the larva then migrate out of the bowel and lodge in the tissues of our bodies. Whilst this is not common, there are reports of a few children having eaten the eggs and suffering eye damage and even blindness as a result. As the eggs are also left in the soil when an infected cat does its toilet, it is always advised to wear gloves when gardening.
The common tapeworms are much less likely to infect humans, however yet again this can occur, and is most likely to be the result of an infected flea being swallowed.
Symptoms Of Hookworms In Cats
Hookworms are less prevalent than tapeworms and roundworms, but they should be avoided by pet owners.
They feed on the cats blood through the small intestine, which can cause anemia. They can be deadly in severe situations, especially in kittens.
Adult cats may have some tolerance to hookworm if theyve been exposed to the parasite before, so they dont display any signs.
- Weight loss
You May Like: How Much Food Should A Cat Eat
Prevention Of Worms In Cats Is Easier Than Treatment
According to Nichols, the best way to prevent intestinal worms is to keep your cat on year-round preventative medications. Many heartworm preventatives can also protect your cat from getting roundworms and hookworms, and flea preventatives play an important role in protecting cats from tapeworms. Your cats veterinarian can help you find the best options for your pet. Nichols adds that keeping your cat indoors and cleaning his litter box regularly can help guard your cat against intestinal worms.
Because cats can have intestinal worms without showing any signs, Nichols emphasizes the importance of having your cat screened once a year. This involves bringing in a poop sample from your cat so your veterinarian can perform a fecal float test to look for parasite eggs. The test is often part of your cats yearly wellness visit, she says, and it can identify the presence of roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and sometimes tapeworms.
Roundworms In Cats And Kittens
There are two types of roundworm that affect cats and kittens: Toxascaris leonina and Toxacara cati. Because treatment protocols involve the same medication regime, once eggs are identified on a fecal examination we refer to the infection as roundworm and treat it identically.There are 3 ways cats and kittens can become infected with Toxacara cati:
How do we know your cat or kitten is infected?
A few interesting facts about roundworm:
For more information on roundworms and parasites please visit the Companion Animal Parasitic Council website at
You May Like: Is Blue Buffalo Good Cat Food