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What are Cat Worms?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Cat worms are intestinal worms which can affect cats. In addition to being a problem for cats, many feline worms can also affect dogs, humans, and other animals. Treating cat worms is important, as worms can cause general ill health and interfere with the function of the cat's immune system, making it hard for the cat to fight off disease. Because there are several different types of worms, the advice of a veterinarian should be sought when treating cat worms, to ensure that the right medication is selected.

There are four basis types of cat worms: roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and hookworms. All of these worms like to set up camp in the intestines, with hookworms actually latching into the intestinal wall to feed, while roundworms can encyst in the muscle tissue, erupting at a later date. Hookworms in particular can be deadly in kittens.

Cats get worms in a variety of ways. Ingesting infected prey can cause a worm infestation, as can consuming fleas or feces. Cat worms can also migrate to a cat if the animal is exposed to worm eggs in dirt or on plants, as might be the case with an indoor/outdoor cat. Cat worms are especially common in cats which roam outdoors, as there are many potential vectors for transmission which cannot be controlled.

Humans sharing a household with a cat can also develop worms, if they are not careful. If a cat has worms, it is a good idea to exercise proper hygiene, washing the hands thoroughly after handling the cat, keeping the litterbox clean, and keeping the cat away from food preparation areas.

Some common symptoms of infection with worms include: weight loss, diarrhea, a potbellied appearance, vomiting, scruffy or dulled fur, anemia, and stunted growth. In the case of tapeworms, segments of the tapeworm may appear around the anus; these segments look like little grains of flattened rice. If you suspect that your cat has worms, the cat and a stool sample should be brought to the vet to determine which worms are present.

A veterinarian can prescribe an appropriate dewormer, and he or she will usually request a follow up examination in several weeks to ensure that the worms have been eliminated. Pet owners can take some steps to avoid cat worms, such as using antiflea medication and keeping cats indoors, where they cannot come into contact with contaminated soil or prey. Keeping cats indoors also extends their lifespan, and keeps the neighbors happy, as roaming cats can interfere with bird feeding stations and leave unwanted deposits in neighborhood gardens.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All Things Nature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Aug 04, 2013

I've heard that putting some food-grade diatomaceous earth in cat food can eliminate worms in cats. Is there any truth to this?

By turquoise — On Aug 04, 2013

@turkay1-- Does your cat have other cat worm symptoms like fatigue and change in appetite?

Your cat might have tapeworms. You need to examine his feces daily and check for more of the "white things." Sometimes they can be light brown too. They usually look like noodle pieces or rice. You might even be able to observe them around your cat's bottom.

Tapeworms can also leave the intestines at night and can be found in the cat's bedding. So you need to check for the white things in your cat's bed too.

I don't think there is any harm in going to a vet if you're suspecting worms. Most of the time treatment requires a single pill. Plus, you don't want to put your own health at risk. Just get him treated.

By candyquilt — On Aug 03, 2013

I saw a couple of white things in my cat's feces this morning. My cat does go outside, but he doesn't roam free and I highly doubt that he consumed feces outside. I also know that he hasn't been hunting and eating anything.

Is there any other way to confirm whether a cat has stomach worms? I don't want to take him to have to take strong medications if there isn't a problem.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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