A common problem that most cat owners complain about is worms. These parasites live in the body of cats and seriously alter their state of health. Sometimes infected cats will not show any signs of worms, but they do have a large number of worms in them.
If your kitty ever suffers from this problem, it is important that you should treat them immediately and consult your vet.
What are the symptoms of worms in cats?
The most common and noticeable signs to observe in the case of worms are visible segments of worms or whole worms in cat poo. However, there are other signs that also indicate the presence of worms in cats. The most obvious signs that will appear as a result of worms are:
- Bloated stomach and weight loss
- Change in bowel movement
- Severe onset of diarrhea
- Poor or duller coat condition
- White worms in cat poo
- Cat scratching and biting the tail
- Worms seen around their anus
- Feeling dull and lazy and not showing interest in anything
Spotting the signs of worms in cats
When your kitty has a worm infestation, she may seem happy and healthy at first, but in the meantime, the worms multiply in her intestines and take all the essential nutrients. Certain worms can also find their way into your cat’s blood.
However, the signs and symptoms of worms in cats are different, depending on the type of worms. Typically, it would help if you take your kitten or her stool sample to the vet for proper diagnosis and proper treatment.
What are the different types of worms cats can get?
There are different types of worms in cats found in the UK, and each will show different signs and symptoms in cats.
Just as the name suggests, roundworms are long, round, with a pointed end, and give a spaghetti-like appearance. Roundworms are transmitted through cat faeces, and their eggs cannot be seen with the naked eyes; they are only seen under the microscope. Roundworms can occur in cats of all ages and can reach up to 4 inches in size.
Tapeworms are flat and consist of many segments. Cats can get these worms from fleas and rodents. These worms are common residents of the small intestine and absorb all essential nutrients from there.
There eggs can be spotted in your cat’s faeces. When roundworm segments break off, they will appear as worms in cat faeces that look like small grains of rice. Roundworms can affect cats of all ages, but mainly kittens and older cats.
Hookworm is not as common in cats like roundworm or tapeworm are, but pet owners should remain active against these worms. They are commonly found in the small intestine and feed on the cat’s blood, which can cause anemia. In extreme worm loads, hookworms can be fatal. However, if your cat contracts hookworms at any part of it’s life, it may then develop immunity against these parasites in future.
Lungworms are one of the most unpleasant parasites in cats. They live in the lungs of cats, but the good news is that they are not very common and are rarely fatal. However, lungworms can cause lung damage and breathing problems.
Heartworms are not found in the UK, but cats that continually travel abroad can get heartworms.
Do indoor cats need worming?
Cats love to go out and roam, but some cats continually live indoors. If your cat lives indoors and does not explore outside to catch mice and birds and has no interaction with other cats, then you might think that your kitten does not need to be treated/protected.
However, this is not the case. Whether your cat never goes outside or comes into contact with a stray animal, it is still at risk of contracting parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, and pinworms. Whilst the risk may be much lower than for cats that go outdoors, the risk still remains and most vets still recommend treating cats for worms, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats.
How often to treat worms in cats and kittens?
Worms in cats are treated according to their age and their lifestyle.
If you have purchased a kitten that has just been weaned and has never received any anti-parasitic treatment or you do not know its history of worms, we recommend deworming immediately. Typically, anti-parasitic treatment in kittens begins at the age of two weeks and continues after every two weeks until eight weeks of age.
After that, they are in the safe zone and then need to be given deworming treatment every month until six months of age, and then for the rest of their life, deworming is done every three months.
Adult cats should be dewormed every three months, that is, four times a year.
Prolific hunting cats
If your cat likes to roam and hunt outdoors, it is at a much higher risk of contracting worms from birds and rodents. For such cats worming treatment is recommended once a month.
Pregnant and nursing cats
Like other cats, worming treatment is essential in pregnant and lactating cats. Pregnant cats are dewormed at the end of their pregnancy and for the second time during lactation with the kittens’ first worming treatment. However, before deworming these cats, it is crucial to select products that are safe for nursing cats.
Can cat worm treatments cause side effects?
No side effects of any worming treatment have been observed on any noticeably large scale, but in very rare cases, side-effects can include diarrhoea and vomiting that can occur after 24 hours of medication, but these side-effects are highly infrequent.
What are the common causes of intestinal worms in cats?
Cats can contract intestinal worms by ingesting infected rodents, birds, and fleas while grooming. Rodents and birds get worms by eating worms in the environment. Cats can also acquire worms from the water they drink. Small white worms in cats water bowls can often be seen.
What are the common causes of heartworms in cats?
Cats can suffer from heartworms when bitten by an infected mosquito, although heartworms are not as common in cats as they are in dogs. Cats are not the natural host for heartworms, but even so, both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk for the disease.
How to get rid of cat worms?
There is a wide range of deworming products available on the market that can help treat infected cats and also help prevent infestation. The most common products available for deworming are pills, powders, pastes, syrups, and drops.
Worms in cats are quite common, but it is vital to identify and treat them. Consult your vet about the best worming treatment for your kitty.