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Worms in Cats: Everything You Need to Know About Cat Worms

Posted in: Cat Health - Last Updated: June 20, 2022 - Author: Megan Whittington
Posted in Cat Health 
Last Updated: June 18, 2022  
Author:  Megan Whittington
How to tell if your cat has worms

Worms in cats may not be the most pleasant topic of discussion, but as cat guardians, they’re something we’re all concerned about.

Intestinal worms are fairly common in cats and while they typically don’t cause serious illness to otherwise healthy felines, they can certainly be a source of discomfort.

Thankfully, worms in cats are relatively easy to treat and a number of preventative products exist to ensure your furry friend remains free of parasites.

For the Best Dewormers, Read This: The Best Cat Dewormer Picks for Every Type of Worm!

Common Worms in Cats

Cat worms come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the type of cat worm present may impact both symptoms in your cat and the necessary treatment involved. The type of cat worm your cat may be carrying depends on a number of factors including access to outdoors, exposure to other animals, the time of year, and the region in which you reside.

  • Roundworms: As one of the most common intestinal parasites in cats, the chances are good that most cat owners have dealt with roundworms at some point or another. These worms in cats average in around 3 to 6” long and move freely around the intestine. Roundworms are contracted through ingesting eggs that contain roundworm larvae, most commonly through drinking milk from an infected mother cat. They can also be ingested through eating a paratenic host like birds and mice.Some cats may show no obvious cat symptoms of having roundworms, aside from the occasional presence of worms in cat faeces or vomit. If you suspect your cat may have worms, be sure to monitor the litterbox closely. For kittens, older cats, and those with health issues; roundworms in cats may cause serious illness and need to be addressed swiftly.
  •  Tapeworms:

    These particularly nasty parasites in cats are long and flat, which is how they got their name. While in the body they can be anything from 4-24” long and cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and weight-loss. Owners are likely to see tapeworm segments after leaving the body of an infected cat. These segments resemble sesame seeds and will often be seen around the cat’s anus or deposited in faeces.

    Tapeworms in cats are caused by ingesting flea larva, usually through grooming themselves or other animals with a flea infestation. As tapeworms are from a different family to other common intestinal parasites, not all deworming medication will be suitable for treatment.
  • Hookworms:

    Hookworms in cats are generally found in warmer climates, these parasites in cats get their name from their hook-like mouths that are used to attach themselves firmly to their hosts. As a result of these ‘hooks’, blood in the stool is a common symptom of this worm being present. Hookworms in cats are barely visible at only 1/8” long and feed on their host’s tissue fluid and blood.

    Hookworms are usually contracted by ingesting larvae hatched from eggs in cat faeces. A common way that this occurs is when cats clean their feet after digging in their litter box. Since they feed on blood, anemia is a concern for young kittens infested with these worms.

How To Tell if Your Cat Has Worms?

While some cats carry cat worms without displaying cat worm symptoms, you will likely notice a number of markers to determine that intestinal parasites are present. These include:

  • Loose/abnormal stools or diarrhea
  • Blood in stools
  • Visible worm segments or full worms in stools or in vomit
  • Vomiting
  • Weight-loss
  • A round, bloated belly
  • Dulling coats
  • Itchy anus
  • Constipation
  • General lethargy and weakness
  • Coughing and difficulty breathing may also be a symptom if lungworms are present.

If your cat is displaying any of these cat worm symptoms, be sure to take action promptly. Be aware that some worms in cats can also be transferred to humans, so use gloves and wash up well when cleaning up after your kitty.

Parasites in Cats: How Do They Get Them?

There are a number of ways that a cat may contact cat worms, and these ways will also vary on the types of worm. Unfortunately, intestinal parasites in cats are fairy easy to pick up during your cat’s daily activities. Cats that are exposed to other infected animals may pick worms up when ingesting larvae through grooming. They can also pick up worms in cats through eating infected prey animals, such as mice and birds. As such, outdoor moggies are far more at risk of contracting worms in cats than their indoor counterparts.

Another way that cats can get worms is from fleas. When cats groom themselves, they can ingest infected fleas which will result in a worm outbreak. If your kitty has fleas, note that they will need to be treated for worms too as a precaution. Kittens can also get worms from their moms through nursing on their milk, so be sure to take your kitten or pregnant mother cat to the vet for a treatment.


Treatment and Prevention of Worms in Cats

If you suspect a case of worms in your cat, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Only a vet is qualified to diagnose the presence of worms in cats, determine the type, and prescribe the necessary medication. Your cat may require antibiotics or supportive treatment, as well as a specific cat dewormer, so be sure to schedule an appointment timeously. 

Once you’ve started the treatment prescribed by the vet, you’ll more than likely notice segments of cat worms or even whole worms in your cat’s faeces. This is nothing to be concerned about, as the dead or dying worms are simply leaving your kitty’s system. Just be sure to apply caution when handling this excrement.

With so many ways for them to get cat worms, the best possible way to keep them healthy is to prevent them from contracting worms in cats all together! There are quite a few different preventative worms in cat treatments on the market, and your vet will be able to make a good recommendation for your kitty. This Flea and Worm Collar for Cats is a popular choice.

For the Best Dewormers, Read This: The Best Cat Dewormer Picks for Every Type of Worm!

Final Thoughts on Worms in Cats

Worms in cats may be fairly common, but thankfully, they usually don’t cause much damage to our feline friends are fairly easy to treat. There are several different types of intestinal parasites in cats that your furry buddy can get, making it important to consult a vet before providing any kind of treatment.

Cats can pick up worms from a multitude of sources, but there are steps we can take to reduce risks and that our kitties are free of parasites. When it comes to worms, prevention is always better than cure!

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About the author

Megan Whittington is a full-time copywriter and part-time foster mom, based in sunny South Africa. With five of her own beloved rescued felines and having fostered over 100 cats and kittens, Megan is an expert in kitten care and cat fostering. She also loves to drink copious amounts of tea!