Which Types Of Worms Affect Cats?

Worms are gross. Cat's don't want them and neither do we. Arming yourself with the knowledge of their appearance and effects is the best way to ensure you spot infestations early and get the treatment required before they transmit to others.

Cat with worms @ivanjevtic / Unsplash

Make no mistake about it, worms pose a big threat to your cat’s health regardless of age or breed. By following a regular deworming schedule you can ensure they are dealt with promptly and minimize any health risks or complications that can potentially arise from worm infestation.

Worms infestations do happen from time to time, so it’s important to educate yourself on the types of worms and the effects they have on your cat’s health. In rarer cases they can even be transmitted from cats to humans, so prompt and quick deworming should be carried out as soon as you suspect an infestation.

What are the types of worms that affect cats?

There are four common types of worms that affect cats; hookworms, roundworms, heartworms and tapeworms. Of the four, roundworms and tapeworms tend to be the most frequent offenders.

Roundworms are long white tubular worms that find their way into your cat’s digestive system as eggs. This often happens when your cat is cleaning their paws, or if they’ve consumed prey that is already infected with roundworms.

They can also be passed from mother to kitten in the milk they produce, so if you have a mothering cat who seems to be infected, it’s a good idea to check the kittens for worms too.

Tapeworms are flat, segmented and often resemble small grains of rice. They’re smaller than roundworms but can still sometimes be visible in the fur around your cat’s anus. Infestations happen most commonly from consuming fleas, rodents or infested feces.

What effect do worms have on cats?

The severity of the effects worms have on cats depends entirely on the size of the infestation. Many cats are infested for some time before the infestation reaches a point where the effects become visible.

The most common effects that become apparent when worm infestations are of a big enough size are:

  • Irritation to both the anus and bowels
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Swollen or bloated abdomen
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite

If your cat is suffering from any of the above symptoms then a worm infestation is the first thing you should look to eliminate.

If you aren’t able to diagnose this yourself (or there are no visual indicators of a worm infestation) then you should seek to set up an appointment with your vet immediately.

From there, they can prescribe deworming medication and help explain the process of how to set about deworming your cat. Remember that is not a one time treatment, and typically needs to be administered bi-weekly or, in some cases, monthly. Regular grooming will not be sufficient to keep your cat free of worms, it is a condition that must be treated medically.

Can humans get worms from cats?

Yes. Humans can be infected by cat worms, though not all types. Feline roundworms and hookworms can be readily transmitted from cats to humans, as hundreds of eggs are present in the feces of an infested cat. Eggs are then carried through the home on your cat’s paws where they remain dormant. These eggs can reach maturity in as few as 5 days, at which point they are capable of penetrating the skin and taking hold.

The threat they pose to human health is just as serious as that of a cat’s health. It is therefore vital that infestations are dealt with quickly and under the guidance of a professional veterinarian.

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