Symptoms of worms in cats

The most common internal parasites 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.

Read on to find out about the most common symptoms of cat worms.

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.

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.

Change in bowel habits

Cats with worms may experience a change in bowel habits, particularly the onset of diarrhoea. Whether the cause is worms or not, it’s important to take your cat to see the vet if they experience this.

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’.

Unusual behaviour

Any kind of unusual behaviour in your cat requires further investigation, but there are two things that may be indicative of worms:   

  • Lethargy – Cats who have worms are often lethargic. They may lack energy, or seem to have less interest in things that usually excite them.
  • 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.  


Prevention is better than cure

Remember, preventing 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.

Treating worms in cats

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.