Cats are susceptible to many different types of parasitic infections, including worms. Although having worms is unpleasant for your cat, it is a treatable parasitic infection. However, you must first know how to identify if your cat has worms to know how and when to treat your cat. Here is an overview of how cats get worms, the different types of worms from which they may suffer, and how to treat worms in cats.
How Do Cats Get Worms?
Worms are very common in cats, and it is thought that as many as 45 percent of cats suffer from worms at any given time. According to Insider.com (https://www.insider.com/worms-in-cats)., they are especially common in kittens, newly adopted cats, and cats that spend most of their time outdoors. It is less common for indoor cats to suffer from worms. Cats get worms by ingesting something that is already infested with worms. Examples include animal feces, rodents, slugs, and snails. It is also possible for a mother cat to pass on worms to her kittens.
The Most Common Types of Worms
When people refer to a cat as having worms, they may refer to parasitic infection of any type of worms. The four most common types of worms from which cats may suffer are:
- Roundworms: The most common type of worm is the roundworm. It lives in a cat’s intestines, and they are usually between three and four inches long and have brownish-yellow color. Roundworms have a similar appearance to chopped, cooked spaghetti.
- Tapeworms: These are long, flat worms that are anything from four to 24-inches long. Tapeworms are given their name because of their tape-like appearance. They usually cause a cat to suffer from weight loss and vomiting. However, some cats show no symptoms of tapeworms.
- Hookworms: This type of worm is much smaller than roundworms. Hookworms usually measure between one and two inches long, and they have a hooked appearance with a red or brown line down the center of their body. They are potentially dangerous as they feed on blood in the cat’s intestines, and this can cause life-threatening anemia.
- Heartworms: These are the only type of worms that will not appear in your cat’s feces or around their anus. Therefore, it is important that your cat has an annual screening for this parasitic infection. According to the FDA, heartworms can cause serious lung damage to cats.
The Symptoms of Worms
The symptoms of worms may vary depending on the type of worms from which your cat is suffering. Heartworms are different from the other types of worms, as the most common symptom of heartworms is respiratory problems, including constant coughing and difficulty breathing.
However, the other types of worms live in the intestines. Some of the most common symptoms may include:
- Visible worms or worms segments around the anus or in feces
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Bloody stools
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Bloating around the belly
- Itching around the anus
- Licking or biting around the anus to ease itching
- Redness and irritation around the anus
- A lack of energy
How to treat Worms
Prevention is always better than cure, and there are worm prevention treatments that you can give to cats regularly that reduce the risk of them suffering from parasitic infections, including worms. Fleas are known to harbor worm eggs, so keeping your cat flea-free is also important to prevent worms, says Pet Cube. If you notice that your cat has symptoms of worms, then you need to book an appointment with the vet. They can identify the type of worm from which your cat is suffering, then prescribe the appropriate course of treatment to treat your cat. The vet can also check for any ill effects of your cat suffering from worms, such as anemia.
Although there are some over-the-counter treatments for worms, not all will treat all types of worms. Similarly, not every treatment is suitable for every cat, depending on their age and any other health conditions. Therefore, it is always best to see the vet before giving treatment to your cat. Most of the treatments prescribed are oral. After your cat has received treatment for intestinal worms, it is likely that you will continue to see whole worms or segments of worms in their feces, and this is not a cause for concern. It simply means that the treatment is working, and your cat’s body is ridding itself of the parasitic infection from its intestines.
Preventing Passing on Worms to Humans
It is important to note that some types of parasitic infections can pass from a cat to humans, including roundworms and tapeworms. Therefore, it is necessary for cat owners to take precautionary measures to prevent passing the infection from their cat to themselves. First, make sure you wash your hands after stroking your cat, after handling the litter tray, and before preparing meals. Ideally, you should wear gloves when handling the litter tray. It is also crucial that you do not allow your cat to sit on the countertops in your kitchen, and make sure you disinfect the worksurfaces thoroughly before preparing food. Furthermore, it is best if you washed your cat’s bedding regularly to remove any eggs.
Identifying and Treating Worms in Cats – The Final Verdict
Worms are a common parasitic infection from which cats can suffer. The four common types of worms are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and heartworms. Each type of worm causes different symptoms for cats. If your cat has worms, then it is important to see the vet, who will prescribe the most appropriate course of treatment. It is also possible to reduce the risk of a cat suffering from worms with preventative medication. Cat owners should take care to prevent passing on the worm infection to themselves with careful precautionary measures.