Worms in Cats
Even if your cat spends most of its time indoors, it can easily pick up intestinal worms from everyday activities. Unfortunately, you may not even realise it’s happened as they often show few (if any) noticeable signs of infection.
What Causes Worms in Cats? Daily habits such as walkies, grooming and exploring can mean worms. Here's what to look out for.
The primary source of infection is when another pet ingests dog and cat faeces that contain worm larvae. Many parasites live in grass or soil making it easy for your cat to pick them up whilst exploring. Cats can also pick up worms by eating infected eggs, small mammals, undercooked or raw meat.
An infected cat can pass on worms to her new kittens in the womb. The kitten may also be infected whilst nursing by drinking their mother’s milk. Regular worming is important to help stop the spread of worms and ensure a healthy kitten and mum.
Roundworm eggs can attach to your cat's coat and when swallowed have the potential to infect the cat. Pets that do not have preventative treatment from fleas may be at a higher risk of contracting worms because fleas carry tapeworm larvae that can develop into adult tapeworms if swallowed.
Symptoms of worms in cats
Diarrhoea and vomitingIf your cat has soft stools, diarrhoea or vomiting, it could mean worms. Keep in mind that these symptoms could also be signs of other illnesses, so if the problems persist, we recommend consulting your veterinarian.
Malnutrition and poor growthParasites feed on the nutrients in your cat's stomach and can cause malnutrition, weight loss and dull coats as nutrients aren't being absorbed.
A distended, swollen abdomenA large number of intestinal worms could cause a pot bellied appearance in your cat. This is often seen in kittens and young cats that have contracted worms whilst nursing from their mother.
Anaemia (the loss of healthy red blood cells)The colour of your cats gums may be able to tell you a lot. If they are nice and bright pink (not red), this means your cat is healthy. If they are pale-pink and white they could be anaemic. We recommend consulting your veterinarian if the problems persist.
‘Scooting’ along the floorSometimes cats may scoot along the ground to relieve themselves of the itch caused by worms. It could also be a sign of impacted anal glands.
Worms may be visible in faecal matterWorms may be visible in your cat's stools or might appear around your cat's anus. They may look like moving pieces of rice or, if they are dry, they’ll look like hard yellow specks.
Common Worm Types To Look Out For
RoundwormRoundworms are common in puppies and kittens and can cause weight loss, poor coat, pot belly, loss of appetite, vomiting and more. Roundworms can be from 10 - 18cm in length and can cause disease in humans.
HookwormHookworms can affect dogs and cats of all ages. They can cause anaemia, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and more. Hookworm adults suck blood from the wall of the intestine and can be 1 - 2cm in length. Hookworms can also cause disease in humans.
TapewormTapeworms can affect both cats and dogs, often causing no symptoms. The adult tapeworms attach to the gut wall and absorb nutrients. Tapeworms have a high potential of causing disease in humans.
Worm Treatment For Cats
It’s important to treat your cat for worms regularly to break their life cycle and keep your pet safe.
If your cat has worms, chat with your vet or pet health professional for advice. Worms can infect cats in many ways, so it is necessary to:
- treat the cat itself with an allwormer
- reduce the environmental contamination by daily disposal of droppings
- remove tapeworm intermediate hosts eg. fleas
Remember to “Repeat and Defeat” intestinal worms with an allwormer like Drontal® regularly. It can be challenging to keep up your worming treatments but with Drontal® treat every 3 months after 12 weeks of age or at the start of each season.