- What are cat worms?
- How do cats catch worms?
- Types of worms in cats
- Roundworms (Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina)
- 6 most common symptoms of worms in cats?
- 1. Weight loss and a distended stomach
- 2. Coarse fur
- 4. Visible traces of worms
- 5. Lethargy
- 6. Dragging themselves along the carpet
- Can worms cause diarrhoea in cats?
- Preventing cat worms is better than curing them
- How do you treat cat worms?
- How do you worm a cat or kitten?
- What is the best dewormer for my cat?
- Can indoor cats get worms?
- Can humans get worms from their cats?
The most common worms in cats are roundworms and tapeworms. Neither of them are good for your cat – they can cause everything from lethargy to a change in bowl habits, as well as weight loss and other symptoms.
Luckily, it’s easy to keep an eye out for the symptoms of worms in cats. If you know the most common signs, you can take your cat to the vet for treatment in good time.
What are cat worms?
Worms are the most common intestinal parasites that are found in cats. They can occur in cats and kittens throughout the world. The most common worms cats can get are roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms. They can be a concern and should be treated but don’t usually have long term effects.
How do cats catch worms?
How cats catch worms depends on what type of worm it is. It can be from ingesting eggs or ingesting the host indirectly by eating another animal/insect that is infected with the worm or its eggs. We have more on this below.
Types of worms in cats
There are a few species of cat worms, the most common of which are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.
Roundworms (Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina)
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites in kittens and cats. They are long, white and look like spaghetti. Eggs from these cat worms are passed in the faeces and can live for months or years in the soil. Cats can become infected in three main ways:
• Ingestion of eggs directly from contaminated soil e.g., by licking them off their feet
• Consumption of a rodent who has previously eaten worm eggs from the environment
• Ingestion by kittens of worm larvae in their mother’s milk (Toxocara cati only). The vast majority of new-born kittens are infected with roundworms by this route.
Another type of cat worms your cat could be infected by are Tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis). Tapeworms are long, flat and composed of many segments which contain eggs. The segments are regularly shed in faeces and resemble grains of rice which can sometimes be seen crawling around a cat’s anus or on their bed.
To complete their lifecycle, tapeworms require an intermediate host to eat their eggs from the environment. Cats then become infected by consuming the intermediate host. Intermediate hosts include fleas and rodents. For this reason, if your cat is diagnosed with fleas, they will probably need treatment for tapeworms and vice versa. In addition, if they hunt and eats rodents, they will also require tapeworm treatment. You can find out more about tapeworms in cats with our easy guide.
Whipworms are parasites which affect your cat’s intestines. Felines might become infected if they ingest food, soil or drink water that contains whipworm eggs. This is a very resistant parasite species and can live for several years in the environment. Whipworms do not affect humans, as these cannot be transmitted easily.
Hookworms are a species of worm which can affect both cats and dogs. They are another intestinal parasite. They have hook-like mouthparts which they use to anchor themselves to the intestinal wall and get their nutrients. Cats might get infected by eating rodents or licking the soil on their paws that contain hookworm larvae. These types of cat worms are mostly invisible, but your vet will be able to diagnose the parasite infection through testing.
6 most common symptoms of worms in cats?
Some cats can stay symptom-free, however, there are a few signs that are connected to cat worms you should keep an eye on.
We’ve listed all the common signs of worms in cats for you to look out for. If you think any of these are a concern, make sure to contact your vet.
1. Weight loss and a distended stomach
Cats who have worms often still have a good appetite, but you may notice that despite eating a normal amount, they are losing weight. If your cat is losing weight for any reason it’s time for a trip to the vet, but if it is accompanied by a ‘distended’ stomach – i.e. a stomach that looks bloated – it may be a symptom of worms.
2. Coarse fur
Another symptom of worms in cats is a change in their fur condition. Their fur may become coarse and rough, and lack its usual lustre. This is particularly a symptom of worms if it is accompanied by a distended stomach.
4. Visible traces of worms
You may find that worms, or parts of worms, are visible in your cat’s stool. They may also be visible around their anus, or possibly in their bedding.
Worms can be a variety of sizes; the most common worm, roundworm, can grow up to 10cm long (although you are unlikely to see one this big). Worms are usually white. Look out for whole worms, or sections of their bodies. Tapeworm sections look like small white ‘grains.
Cats with worms are often lethargic. They may lack energy, or seem to have less interest in things that usually excite them. This is due to worms feeding off of your feline’s stomach tissue, which stops your feline friend from being able to absorb all the vital nutrients they get from their foods.
6. Dragging themselves along the carpet
This is a strong symptom of cat worms. When cats drag their bottoms along the carpet, it may be because worms are irritating them. This common symptom is known as “scooting”, cats and dogs alike, will scoot their bottoms along the ground to try to rid of the irritating sensation.
Can worms cause diarrhoea in cats?
Yes, they can. Cats with worms may experience a change in bowel habits, particularly the onset of diarrhoea. This can be a symptom of worms, but whether this is cause or not, it’s important to take your cat to see the vet if they experience this.
Preventing cat worms is better than curing them
Remember, preventing cat worms is better than having to treat them. Your cat should be regularly wormed to prevent them being infected. Follow advice from your vet to find the most suitable preventative method for your cat, and how often you should treat them.
Kittens can have monthly preventative treatment against tapeworms from six weeks of age, and every three months from six months of age. Adults can have this treatment every two to six months. Your vet will be able to tell your more.
Your cat may also contract worms by swallowing a flea, as some fleas may carry worms. For this reason, preventing against fleas is also important. Find out more about fleas in cats in our article.
How do you treat cat worms?
There are many types of treatments available if your cat has worms. Your vet will be able to tell you which treatment is the most suitable for your cat. If you notice any symptoms of worms in your cat, it is important to get an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
How do you worm a cat or kitten?
Deworming cats is simple as worming treatments are now available as liquids, pastes, granules and palatable worming tablets as well as liquid ‘spot on’ formulations so you can choose the easiest one for your cat. Follow the on-pack instructions in full and stick to the advised schedule for your chosen product.
Because roundworms are so common in kittens it is vital to begin treatment from an early age. It is recommended that kittens are treated for roundworms every two weeks from two until eight weeks of age, then monthly until six months of age and every one to three months thereafter. Kittens only require tapeworm treatment if they also have fleas.
Adult cats should be treated every 1 to 3 months with a product which is effective against both roundworms and tapeworms.
What is the best dewormer for my cat?
There are four different types of dewormer available for your cat, these are:
- Spot-on treatments.
If you want to know what the right dewormer is for your cat, always consult your vet, they will be the best port of call when it comes to the right worm treatment for your cat.
Can indoor cats get worms?
Yes, worms can be transported into the house either on clothes, shoes or other items of clothing. Even though indoor cats aren’t as exposed to the outside world, and therefore may appear less likely to pick up worms, this can still happen.
Indoor cats will still need to have worming treatment to prevent them from catching worms, however, this can be done every three months.
Can humans get worms from their cats?
Feline roundworms can pose a risk to human health. Contact with cat faeces or contaminated soil can result in human ingestion and infection. Children should not be allowed to play where cats pass faeces and children’s sand pits should be covered when they are not in use to avoid cats defecating in them. It is also advised that gardeners wear gloves to avoid contamination and that litter boxes are cleaned out every day.
Worming your cat is simple, and following a regular cat worming programme will not only help keep your cat healthy but also helps prevent human infections too!