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Oh No, My Cat Has Worms!

Updated by Sheryl on Sep 8, 2021

An unusual but shocking discovery that might be very upsetting is discovering worms in cats. Whether internal or external, these parasites have the reputation of wreaking havoc on your cat’s system. But a proper line of treatment and due diagnosis will help in identifying worms in cats.

These worms generally cause problems in your furry friend exclusively, but they sometimes pass on to the owners because of close contact. This is why you should keep a close watch on your pet and treat them regularly.

There is a myriad of ways you can treat the infestation and a variety of measures you can take to prevent any recurrence in the future.

cat has worms on his body
Types of worms in cats
Symptoms of worms in cats
How to treat worms in your cat?
What causes worms in cats?
How to prevent worms from infecting your cat?
FAQs

Before telling if your cat has worms, you need to know what type of worms your cat is likely to infect.

Roundworms

The most common worms in cats are intestinal parasites. Roundworms look like spaghetti that has tapered ends. They are long and have a curled bottom. They are most visible in the vomit of kittens. The eggs from these worms may pass through the faeces and have the ability to remain viable for a long time.

Roundworms in cats may occur because of direct contact through ingestion from a previously contaminated environment. Roundworms can infect the cat indirectly as well.

Hookworms

These parasites get their name from the way they appear on the microscope. They have hook-type teeth that are used to attach to the intestinal lining through which they suck your cat's blood.

Your cat may be infected by hookworms when they ingest them directly, or these worms make their way through the skin of your pet. The larvae make the cat's lungs their temporary home and mature into adults there before invading the intestines.

These little creatures are notorious for causing internal bleeding. However, these worms are found in really small frequencies in cats. They are not visible to the naked eye but weaken the circulatory system of the animal.  You may notice symptoms like pale gums and energy loss on your cat.

Tapeworms

The long flatworms with an undulated exterior may have infiltrated your cat’s intestine before you know it. Tapeworms in cats have certain segments in their structure that contain eggs excreted through faeces.

These segments look like rice grains and may be visible around the anal area, on the cat’s bed, or in the faeces.

common types of cat worms

The identifying symptoms of worms in cats may be negligible in the early stages. This is why regular control is advised. By the time symptoms and telltale signs arise, it has already caused severe damage to your cat’s system.

Possibility of ringworms

If your cat is vomiting, has extreme diarrhea, losing weight, and lacks energy, be assured its body is infested with ringworms. If you see a distended or swollen belly, that is distinctly visible in kittens, rush to the vet. This is a telling sign that the infection has reached a severe stage.

Identifying tapeworms

It is difficult to identify tapeworms because cats generally don't show such signs. They may have a higher appetite, may drag their bottoms through the floor to relieve irritation, or spend more time washing their anal area. You may also see visible white rice grain-like substances around their body bottoms.

Hookworm infections

Hookworm infections have symptoms similar to ringworm. The only difference is the dark coloured stool that is caused due to bleeding along with diarrhea.

A few home remedies are believed to treat and prevent worms in cats, such as apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and pumpkin seeds.  However, we do not recommend going with over-the-counter medicines or home medicines for treating worms in cats. 

There is no definitive way to tell if these treatments for cats are 100% effective and safe. They may even turn out to be harmful to your cat.

It would be wise just to visit a vet, which is easier and cheaper. Your vet will prescribe a dewormer for your cat, which may be administered orally or by injections.

The dewormers kill larval and adult worms present in the intestine during diagnosis. Your vet can also administer a dose of prescription medications, including Panacur and Drontal Plus. You should be careful while administering such doses or take the help of a medical professional to be safe.

Tapeworm infections have the habit of coming back. Thus, your vet may ask you to start your cat on a monthly cycle of oral or topical flea prevention.

You should treat your kitten every two weeks for roundworms and every month till they are six months of age. Adult cats need to be treated every one to three months for tapeworms.

cat vaccination

Cats generally contract parasites after coming in direct contact with infected or parasite eggs. Cats living outdoors and hunting for food are at a much higher risk of getting infected by such parasites.

Your cat may walk through an area that has infected faeces or eggs and ingest them while grooming themselves. This generally happens when they are licking a wound or cleaning their fur.

Your indoor cat is as vulnerable to such parasites as outdoor cats. The cats are at a much bigger disadvantage if they share a litter box with infected fleas.

Worms in cats and subsequent transmission to adults and children can be prevented easily. You need to practice good food hygiene and prevention tactics for heartworm, intestinal worm, and parasites throughout the year.

Indoor cat owners should clean their litter boxes daily and change out the litter regularly. You should scrub the litter box regularly as well to minimize exposure to infectious feces. And remember to groom them frequently to prevent fleas or dirts from hiding in their hair and causing more critical problems. A pet grooming brush is a great choice for you.

Outdoor cats need regular scooping of faeces. You should start cleaning the sandbox, yard box, and flower beds, which will eventually minimize the propagation potential of the parasite’s life cycle.

What signs indicate worms in cats?
Cats don’t show symptoms of infection, but there are some things you should look out for: increased appetite. Signs also include frequently washing or cleaning the bottom. You may see small segments of worms that look like rice grains in the fur located near the anus.
What will happen if my cat is not treated for worms?
If worms are ignored and left untreated for years, the effects that follow may be severe, especially for kittens. Long-term effects include anaemia and blockage of the intestines, both of which are very dangerous for your cat.
Can a cat infect a human?
Roundworms are capable of causing disease in humans. Humans may accidentally ingest eggs that are shed from infected cats and dogs. If the stool with infected fleas is not disposed of properly, it may seep into the soil and grass while it decays and be potentially harmful to you.
Are cats in pain when they have worm infections?
Worms in cats are potentially painful for cats. The affected tissue in these animals generates discomfort when the larvae move along the stomach, lungs or eyes, and intestines.
Sheryl
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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