Worms can be a common issue with cats, especially if the cat has been outdoors or is a stray.
It is a relatively easy problem to fix but you do need to insure that you treat your cat promptly at the first sign of worms.
Find out how cats get worms, what to look for, and how to treat it.
There are several over the counter products that will get rid of the worms!
How do cats get worms?
Cats get tapeworms by ingesting fleas.
According VCA Animal Hospitals, the larva stage of the flea must actually ingest the tapeworm eggs. Then, when the fleas grow into adults, they may be consumed when the cat is grooming itself.
Once inside, the tapeworm attaches itself to the intestines and feeds off of its host.
Another common worm cats can get are roundworms. These worms are often hosted by birds, bugs, and reptiles. If a cat catches and eats one of these, it can become infected with roundworms.
Kittens can also get roundworms from their mother's milk if she has been infected with the parasite.
Hookworms can be found in contaminated soil and may also crawl through the skin and infect the cat that way. Kittens can get hookworms from their mother's milk.
Do the worms harm the cat?
Although actual illness from the worms is rare, if a cat is infected with a lot of tapeworms, he or she may begin to lose weight and show signs of malnourishment.
For this reason it is a good idea to deworm your cat at least once a year to remove any parasites that might have built up in your cat's digestive track.
Roundworms, on the other hand, can be harmful to very young or very old kittens, causing organ failure and even death if not treated.
Hookworms are often very harmful and need to be treated.
Over the Counter Tapeworm Treatement
How can I tell if my cat has worms?
The best way to tell if your cat has worms is to look for signs of them in their waste or around their hind quarters.
The broken off segments of the tapeworm (which contain eggs) look like little grains of rice.
They can often be seen crawling on fresh waste from your cat or on their fur near the base of their tail.
This is often the first and only sign that your cat may have tapeworms.
Roundworms are usually detected by a vet using a waste sample and a microscope.
If your cat has hookworms it may appear pale and malnourished. Hookworms can infect different organs including the lungs so your cat may wheeze. They are also very deadly to kittens and can kill them easily.
How To Give Your Cat the Dewormer
Once you have chosen a dewormer, it is time to give it to your cat.
Many people dread giving their cats pills or medications but it doesn't have to be a hassle.
You have several options:
- Crush the pill up into their favorite canned food, add a bit of broth and stand by to make sure they eat it all.
- Wrap them securely in a blanket or towel and gently loosen their jaw with your thumb and first finger. Drop the pill into the back of their throat.
- Try pill pockets designed to look like a treat. You put the pill or table inside to hide it.
- If it is a paste or gel, rub the dose on the inside roof of their mouth (using the method in #2) to insure they will lick and swallow it.
Best Types of Dewormers for Your Cat
|Issue||Over the Counter||Prescription|
Look for tablets that have Praziquantel as the main ingredient.
Drontal kills all three
Look for a Piperazine paste.
Drontal kills all three
Look for any cat heartworm treatment
Drontal kills all three
Can people get worms from cats?
While it is very rare for people to get tapeworms from their cats, they can be infected with roundworms which, according to Petshed Petcylopia,can then actually burrow into human organs and cause an immune response, making the host very sick.
Hookworms can burrow into human skin and cause minor irritation or rashes.
Overall, though, humans and felines do not usually, easily share or transmit diseases or parasites.
Preventing future worms in your cat
There are several ways to prevent your cat from getting worms in the future.
Keep his or her flea medication. If you don't like topical medications like Frontline or Advantage, consider a flea pill like Comfortis.
Keep the cat indoors to minimize exposure to worms found on bugs and outdoor animals.
Take your cat to the vet regularly and consider at least an annual deworming to clean the cat out and prevent complications.
While worms are not generally a major health concern, you will want to take care of them as soon as you can.
References and Further Reading
- How Effective Is an Over-the-Counter Cat Dewormer? - VetInfo
- Petshed Petcyclopedia : Human Risk From Cat Worms
- Tapeworm in Cats | Signs and Treatments for Dipylidium Caninum | VCA Animal Hospitals
A common tapeworm in cats is Dipylidium Caninum, brought on by fleas eggs which hatch in your pets intestine. Learn about tapeworm symptoms and treatment for your cat.