Learning your cat has worms can be frightening and make you worried about the health of your beloved kitty. Here, our Springfield vets discuss the types and causes of worms in cats, the symptoms you need to be aware of, and the treatment options available.
Worms in Cats
Worms are parasites that can live inside your cat and steal the nutrients it requires to survive. Tapeworms and Roundworms are the most common, and your cat may not show any symptoms at all in the early stages of infection. Cats of any age, breed, or lifestyle can become infected, and if the worms aren't treated quickly, they can multiply, causing serious symptoms like a swollen/dilated stomach, anemia, and even death.
Luckily there are preventive medications available that can help protect your cherished kitty from these dangerous parasites.
How Can Cats Get Worms?
The most common way cats can get worms is by being exposed to infected feces or parasite eggs, such as by walking through an infected area and licking the particles off their fur during grooming and ingesting it.
Cats (including indoor cats) can easily contract worms by sharing a litter box with another infected cat, hunting and eating infected mice and other prey, and consuming infected fleas. Kittens may also contract worms from their mother's milk if the mother is infected.
The Types of Worms That Can Infect Cats
There are various kinds of worms that are common in cats including:
There is also a handful of worms that aren't as common but, could seriously impact the health of your kitty and can potentially be deadly. Some of these may also be more common in some areas than others.
- Bladder worms
- Stomach worms
- Liver flukes
Signs of Worms in Cats
The type and severity of your cat's symptoms may vary depending on the type of worm they are infected with. Cats can have worms and be asymptomatic, showing no symptoms at all, while in other cases, symptoms can be severe and life-threatening. The first sign of some worms (usually tapeworms) is the presence of dead adult worms (white and grain shaped) in your cat's stool or stuck on their behind or tail fur.
Below we have listed several common signs and symptoms of worms in cats:
- Weight loss
- Distended abdomen
- Lack of energy
- Diarrhea (may contain blood or worms)
- Vomiting (could contain worms)
- Poor coat condition
- Anemia (pale gums and lips)
- Low blood pressure
- Death (in the most severe cases)
If you notice any signs of worms in your cat call your vet as soon as possible so they can diagnose the kind of worms your kitty has and start treatment as soon as possible.
Treating Worms in Cats
If you suspect your cat has worms take them to the vet as quickly as you can. Your vet will conduct a physical examination of your kitty, which could include a fecal exam.
Once your vet has diagnosed your cat they might give them deworming medications immediately, either orally or by injection. You may also be given prescription cat dewormer medicine for whipworm, roundworm, hookworm, or tapeworm to give your cat at home. If your vet gives you take-home medications you have to follow their instructions very carefully to make sure you properly administer the medications to get rid of all the worms. Sometimes multiple doses of deworming medicine for cats are required to kill any parasites that might have hatched after the first dose was given.
If your cat's condition is not treated quickly, the worms will continue to thrive and migrate within his body, stealing vital nutrients and causing potentially fatal conditions such as weight loss, pneumonia, blindness, serious skin infections, progressive anemia, and dehydration.
How to Prevent Worms
Prevention is the best treatment for worms because it's safer for your pet, keeps your pet healthy, and can cost less than cat dewormer treatments.
Some at-home measures you can implement to prevent worms include cleaning and disinfecting your cat's litterbox regularly and picking up any poop that is in your yard or other areas where your cat likes to go, to limit exposure.
The best way to protect your cat from worms and other parasites is to keep them on preventive medications prescribed by your veterinarian. You should also take your cat to the vet for routine checkups and fecal exams so that any emerging conditions can be treated as soon as possible.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.