Here’s everything you need to know about worms and how to safely and successfully get rid of worms in cats.
It’s never fun to find out your cat has worms. Finding the worms in might be terrifying (and disgusting), but their existence can also raise major concerns about your cat’s health.
There are, however, a number of safe and efficient ways to treat worms in cats, as well as a number of preventative steps you may take to reduce the likelihood of a subsequent reinfestation.
What Causes Cats to Get Worms?
When cats come into touch with parasite eggs or contaminated excrement, they are more likely to get worms. A cat may walk past an area containing eggs or infectious excrement, and because cats are such meticulous groomers, the eggs or fecal particles will be ingested when they clean their hair and feet. This may happen to indoor cats just as readily as it does to outdoor cats, especially if many cats share a litter box with infected excrement. Because worms may survive in the muscular tissues of their prey, cats who live outside and hunt tiny rodents on a frequent basis are at a higher risk of getting worms.
When a cat eats a rat-infested with worm larvae, the larvae mature in the cat’s intestines, causing a worm infestation.
Is it possible for cats to get worms from dogs?
Because not all roundworms and hookworms are species-specific, cats can take up contaminated eggs from dog feces. Toxascaris leonina roundworm, as well as Ancylostoma braziliense hookworm, may afflict both dogs and cats.
If cats live in an infected home or yard, they might develop tapeworms from the fleas on dogs. A tapeworm infection can occur if a flea from a dog hops onto a cat (or vice versa) and is swallowed.
Worms in Cats and Their Different Types
The following are the most frequent worms found in cats:
There are a variety of lesser-known worms in cats that can cause significant health issues and even death, including:
- Liver flukes
- Bladder worms
- Stomach worms
Worms in Cats Symptoms
Depending on the type of worm and the intensity of the infestation, worm infestations in cats can be entirely asymptomatic (showing no signs) or severe and life-threatening.
Worms in cats can show up in a variety of ways, including:
- I’m throwing up (sometimes with worms in the vomit)
- Diarrhea is a common ailment (with or without blood)
- Feces that are tarry
- Loss of weight
- Abdominal distension
- Lesions on the skin
- Body condition is often poor, and the coat is drab.
As the infestation worsens and the symptoms intensify, you may notice indications like:
- Anemia causes pale lips and gums.
- Blood pressure that is too low
- In the most serious situations, death is a possibility.
Symptoms of Worms in Cats: Different Types
Based on your cat’s symptoms, use this guide to help you identify the exact type of worm.
Roundworms can cause a variety of significant problems, including:
- Pneumonia/coughing (if larvae penetrate the lungs and mature in the respiratory tract)
- I’m throwing up (which may contain adult worms)
- Abdominal distension (enlarged)
- Loss of weight/unhealthy appearance
- Obstruction of the intestine (in severe cases)
Hookworms can cause a variety of health issues, including:
- Lesions on the skin (if larvae penetrate the skin and migrate through the tissues)
- I’m coughing (if larvae penetrate the lungs)
- Diarrhea is a common ailment (with blood)
- a tarry, dark stool
- Loss of weight
- Appetite problems
- Lips and gums that are pale (secondary to anemia)
Whipworms can be asymptomatic, however, they can produce the following symptoms in more severe infections:
- diarrhoea in the large intestine (with blood)
- Loss of weight
Your cat may not show any signs of tapeworms, but you may notice worm segments that appear like white rice grains in these areas:
- Around and on the anus
- Around the anal region and under the tail, attached to the hair
- In the litter box, in/on the faeces
Infestations of lungworms can lead to:
- Breathing problems
- As the infestation grows and the symptoms worsen, you may get pneumonia.
Cats with heartworm disease may have the following symptoms:
- Breathing problems
- Sudden demise
- Unexpected death
Bladder worm infections in some cats may not cause symptoms, but in severe situations, they can cause:
- Urine with visible blood
- Urinary discomfort
Infestations of liver flukes can lead to:
- Inflammation of the liver
- Distention in the abdomen (swollen belly)
Is Worms Hurtful to Cats?
Worms in cats can cause discomfort. The movement of larvae via the liver, stomach, eye, or lungs would be unpleasant because the disrupted tissues would become irritated. This might take the form of:
- Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) causes stomach discomfort (potential nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, food aversion)
- Itching of the eyes (excessive rubbing of the eye, squinting, or discharge)
- A shift in your cat’s respiratory pattern or pace
In certain animals, the buildup of fluid caused by protein loss can result in a distended belly, which can be unpleasant owing to the swelling of the abdominal muscles and skin. If there is too much abdomen fluid pushing on the diaphragm and reducing the usual lung capacity for healthy breathing, it can also create breathing problems.
Can Cats Give Humans Worms?
By coming into close touch with infected excrement or dirt, people can get worm diseases from cats. The following are examples of common transmission modes:
Children playing in sandboxes with defecated cats
Walking through polluted dirt barefoot
Gardening without gloves in the dirt
Humans can become infected by ingesting contaminated dirt or excrement, therefore basic cleanliness measures are essential for preventing transmission from cat to owner.
Worms in Cats: How to Get Rid of Them
Garlic, apple cider vinegar, pumpkin seeds, carrots, and turmeric are among the “home” treatments that claim to be beneficial in treating and preventing worms in cats.
Attempting to cure your cat with over-the-counter or natural treatments for worms in cats, on the other hand, is never a good idea.
While it may appear to be a more convenient and cost-effective option than seeing your veterinarian, there is no assurance that such items are safe or helpful in treating any medical issue, and they may even be detrimental to your cat.
Here are several effective and veterinarian-approved worm remedies for cats.
At the time of diagnosis, your veterinarian may prescribe an oral or injectable dewormer to kill the adult and larvae worms in the gut. Hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections can be treated with broad-spectrum prescription drugs like Panacur (fenbendazole) and Drontal Plus (pyrantel, praziquantel, fenbendazole), but they must be properly provided to your cat according to your veterinarian’s recommendations.
To destroy any larvae that may have hatched after the first dosage, your cat may need additional doses.
Praziquantel is also available as a one-time injectable tapeworm therapy that works by paralyzing and dislodging the worm’s sucker from the intestinal wall, allowing the worms to pass through the stool.
Because tapeworm infections can reoccur if fleas are present in your household, your veterinarian may recommend beginning your cat on a monthly topical or oral flea prophylaxis.
What Happens If Cats Don’t Get Worm Treatment?
Untreated worm infestations can be hazardous to your cat’s health, even lethal.
Depending on the course of larval migration, serious skin infections, blindness, convulsions, or pneumonia might ensue from larvae migrating through the organs and tissues of the body on their journey to the gut.
Continuous blood and essential nutrient losses that should be absorbed by the intestines can lead to anemia, weight loss, dehydration, and death.
Worms in Cats: How to Prevent Them
Worm infestations in cats and transmission to children and humans may be avoided by practicing excellent hygiene and using heartworm, intestinal worm, and parasite prevention all year long. Cleaning the litter box on a daily basis, as well as replacing the litter and washing the litter box on a regular basis, is essential for reducing exposure to contaminated feces in indoor cats. For outdoor cats, collecting excrement from the yard, sandbox, and flower beds on a regular basis will reduce the parasite life cycle’s potential for proliferation.