It can be scary to find out your cat has worms and this can make you worry about your kitty's health. In this blog, our Ypsilanti vets explain the types of worms in cats and what can cause them, as well as the symptoms of worms and how they can be treated.
Worms in Cats
Worms are a kind of parasite that resides inside your cat, where they steal the nutrients your kitty needs to be healthy. The most common worms are Tapeworms and Roundworms, and if your kitty has these types of worms, they might not display any symptoms at all during the beginning stages. Cats of any breed, age, or, lifestyle can get infected. If the worms aren't treated fast they can quickly increase in numbers, which can lead to serious symptoms including anemia, a swollen/distended stomach, and even death.
Thankfully there are preventive medications available that can help keep your kitty protected from these dangerous parasites.
How Cats Get Worms
The way cats most often 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 also easily get worms by sharing a litter box with another infected cat, hunting and eating infected mice or other prey, and ingesting infected fleas. Kittens could also get worms by drinking their mother's milk if the mother is infected.
The Types of Worms That Can Infect Cats
Some of the most common kinds of worms that cats can become infected with include:
There are also various other kinds of worms that aren't as common but, can seriously impact your cat's health and can be potentially deadly. Some of them may also be more common in certain areas than others.
- Liver flukes
- Bladder worms
- Stomach worms
Signs & Symptoms of Worms in Cats
The type and severity of the symptoms your cat may develop can vary based on the kind of worms they are suffering from. Sometimes cats could have worms and be asymptomatic displaying no symptoms at all, whereas in other cases a cat's symptoms can be severe and life-threatening. With some kinds of worms (generally tapeworms) the first sign you may notice is the appearance of dead adult worms (white and grain shaped) in your kitty's stool or stuck on their behind or tail fur.
Here we have listed some common signs and symptoms cats can display when they have worms:
- Lack of energy
- Weight loss
- Poor coat condition
- Distended abdomen
- Low blood pressure
- Anemia (pale gums and lips)
- Diarrhea (may contain blood or worms)
- Vomiting (could contain worms)
- Death (in the most severe cases)
If you see your kitty displaying any signs of worms call your vet immediately so they can diagnose the type of worms your cat has and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Treatment for Cats with Worms
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.
After your vet has diagnosed your feline friend's condition they might give your cat deworming medications immediately, either orally or by injection. You might also be provided with prescription medications 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 medications are required to kill any parasites that might have hatched after the first dose was given.
If you don't have your cat's worms treated quickly the worms will continue to thrive and migrate within your pet's body, stealing vital nutrients and causing very serious, potentially fatal conditions such as weight loss, pneumonia, blindness, serious skin infections, progressive anemia, and dehydration.
Preventing Worms in Cats
Prevention is the best treatment for worms because it's safer for your pet, keeps your pet healthy, and can cost less than deworming 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 kitty from worms and other parasites is to keep them on routine preventive medications provided by your vet. You should also take your cat to the vet for routine checkups and fecal exams to catch any arising conditions early when they are most treatable.
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.