I got all my cats from a shelter and they all had worms. I didn’t panic, though, my vet treated this safely and effectively. But not knowing what those hard, circle shaped white things were that my cats were vomiting made me feel so helpless.
So, I did some research into the various types of intestinal worms that cats can get from anywhere in the world.
So, what kind of worms can cats get? The most common worms cats can get are tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, lungworms, whipworms, and heartworms.
I feel the best way to remember these different types is to describe them visually or from how they affect your cat.
Let’s start with the most common parasite worms in your cats:
- Roundworms: these resemble spaghetti (sorry if this kills your love for pasta now).
- Hookworms: these tend to look like a “hook” on the end that makes your cat vomit and have diarrhea.
- Tapeworms: are a rice size, egg-filled little segments that are found in your cat’s poop or around their anus.
- Feline Lungworms: are a parasite cats can get from eating slugs/snails and often will be coughing and have shortness of breath.
- Heartworms: will wrap around your cat’s heart and can experience seizures, difficulty walking or fainting.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking.
How in the world can I ever know or prevent these things happening to my cat?
That’s what my research led me to explore.
So, read on to learn how to prevent and protect your cat from these worms and try to get those hellish visions out of your head that these parasites are eating your cats alive.
How to Check Cats for Worms
Whether you have indoor or outdoor cats, they’re still susceptible to becoming a host to these internal parasites.
Basically, going to your vet so they can diagnose worms in your cat by a fecal exam is the best way.
They’ll examine your cat’s feces with a microscope to look for those microscopic worm eggs.
I learned that kittens can get these worms just from their mother’s milk. As they can eat prey that is infected or just by eating worm eggs.
So, understand, it’s fairly easy for cats to get worms. Knowing that it’s easy, it’s a good idea to know the warning signs as to get your cats treated quickly.
Let’s determine if your cat might have worms:
#1 Check for symptoms:
- Check your cat’s gums
- Check your cat’s fur
- Check their feces (poop) – inspect their poop and look for worms, eggs, specs of anything resembling worms or eggs.
- Eating HabitsCats body shape
- Energy Level (lethargic)
- Check your cat’s anus –
- Inspect their bedding or anywhere they spend the most time
- Fecal Exam – collect your cat’s stool for your vet to check
Tapeworms In Cats: Troublesome Flatworms
It begins with a feeling of disgust. Worms in your cat are just that, disgusting. The simple truth is they’re not uncommon.
What is a tapeworm?
Tapeworms are flat, long (8 – 20 inches fully grown), white worms that hook their mouth into your cats small intestine. The nutrients that pass through your cat are what these worms feed on. As the tapeworm grows, it will begin to segment itself off (these segments are called proglottids and they are rice like in size) and will come out of your cat by their feces.
How long does it take to kill tapeworms in cats?
The tapeworm medication you get from your vet should kill the adults within a day (24 hours) after administered.
To kill off any remaining adults or larvae, a second dose would be needed 3 – 4 weeks later.
How do you know if your cat has tapeworms?
The most common way to know if your cat has tapeworms is to check their stool (poop/feces), around their anus or check where they sleep. You’ll see the little rice-like segments wiggling around.
Note: Just know that even though these segments come out of your cat, it doesn’t mean the tapeworm is leaving. Unless the head of the worm comes out (becomes dislodged from the intestine) it will just keep growing.
Symptoms of tapeworms in cats:
- Weight loss
- Dragging rear on the floor
- Excessive licking or scratching around the anus
How to get rid of tapeworms in cats? At home, naturally or going to the vet.
You first should bring your cat to the vet for proper diagnosis.
They’ll likely talk with you about the commercial type medications or injections to kill the tapeworms.
But nothing is a guarantee.
You’ll likely need a couple doses to completely eradicate them as they may come back.
If you’d like to try natural remedies to get rid of tapeworms, try these:
- Pumpkin seeds: These seeds can kill adult tapeworms and larvae. Use: Finely crush 1 tsp. And add to your cat’s food everytime you feed them for a month or so.
- Turmeric powder: You can add about 1/8th of a tsp for a 15-20 lb cat for 10 days once a day
- Papaya fruit: You can add half a tsp really finely chopped once a day for two weeks.
- Parsley water: You can boil water with parsley for your cat to drink. Strain it after it comes to a boil. For the next 10 days add half a tbs.
Tips to help reduce the chances of your cat getting tapeworms:
- Keep them indoors
- If outdoor cat: give them flea/tick meds as needed.
- Clean your cat’s litter box more frequently.
Roundworms In Cats: Rotten.
These are the most common parasite found in cats, especially kittens (can be fatal for a kitten if there a large number inside them).
They can get to 3 – 6 inches long and are, well, round. They swim along your cat’s intestinal tract and end up heading toward their liver, lungs and into the bloodstream.
Symptoms Of Roundworms In Cats
When your vet does the test process (called fecal floatation) for your cat’s fecal sample, they’ll be able to see them under the microscope and the diagnosis is simple and immediate.
Prior to that vet visit, you might experience this with your cat:
- Vomiting – you’ll see the worm if they vomit it up
- Abdominal swelling
- Pot Bellies (kitten)
- Hard Stomachs (kitten)
- Thin (kitten)
- Abnormal feces
- Poor nursing (in females)
- Coughing (when the roundworm gets into their lungs)
If left untreated your cat can get:
- Intestinal or bowel blockage
How do cats get roundworms?
If you have an outdoor cat, they can get roundworm from the prey they eat.
Kittens normally get it from drinking their infected mother’s milk.
Even though cats are indoor only, a stray infected fly might come in and be eaten by your cat.
Are roundworms in cats contagious to humans?
Roundworms can easily pass to humans.
If you are touching dirt or soil where a cat left their feces or you touched it directly, not washing your hands, you too will be infected.
So, wash your hands!
If you’re infected they will head to your intestines as well as the bloodstream, your vital organs or your eyes.
“Roundworm larvae have been known to cause permanent damage to the eyes of children who have come in contact with infected cat feces, and then put their hands into their mouths.” – Animal Planet
How to get rid of roundworms in cats?
Again, take your cat to the vet if they’re showing the signs and symptoms from above.
It’s a better choice to do this than just taking an OTC medication from the store not knowing what kind of worm your cat has.
Don’t waste your time.
After administering the deworming or anthelmintic medication for your cat, you should see the dead/dying roundworms coming out with the feces.
You’ll need 2 – 3 treatments (done every 2 – 3 weeks) to get all the larvae and non-adult forms still left inside.
Hookworms In Cats: Horrible.
These small 1 inch worms are a horrid parasite that invades your cat’s small intestines.
They have these “hooks” or structures (teeth) that allow them to attach to the intestinal walls.
They feed on your cat’s tissue and blood. When they detach from the walls, they’ll leave small ulcers in that spot. You won’t be able to see these worms.
Your vet will have to use a microscope to see the eggs through your cat’s feces.
What are symptoms of hookworms in cats?
The symptoms vary with the different species and most infection aren’t fatal or life-threatening. But the hookworm called, Ancylostoma tubaeforme, with heavy infections in kittens can cause fatal blood loss.
Early symptoms of hookworms in cats include:
- Lesions – entering from between the toes and on the bottom of feet
- Coughing – if the larvae get into the lungs
- Dark stool
- Unhealthy appearance
- Poor appetite
- Linings of nostrils, lips, and ears will be pale.
- Death – if not immediately treated and has complications
If your cat has a small number of worms, they may not show any signs but if a kitten had a small number they may be sick from them.
Can hookworms be passed from cats to humans?
Feline hookworms can burrow into our moist human skin causing a disease (cutaneous larval migrans).
Humans don’t get infected internally.
So, just practice good hygiene!
How do you treat and get rid of hookworm in cats?
Like for all these common worms found in our cats, the treatment is the same.
The medication your vet gives you to treat hookworms will only kill the ones in the intestines.
You’ll need a 2 – week interval treatment to get the larvae still in your cat.
Your vet will let you know the frequency depending on the age and health of your cat.
Lungworms In Cats: Loathsome.
These are parasites that are ingested (taking 8 -9 days for travel) and head to your cat’s lungs through their bloodstream.
They are normally .3 inches to 1.5 inches long. From there, they lay eggs in the tissue of the lungs.
After hatching of the eggs, they travel up the throat where the cat will swallow them back down through the digestive tract.
After a month or so, the larvae will exit with your cat’s feces.
What are the symptoms of lungworm in cats?
Not all cats will show signs of infection…
Common symptoms of lungworm in cats include:
- A serious cough – From the larvae laid in the airway
- Wheezing, sneezing
- Nasal discharge
- Open-mouthed abdominal breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Rapid heart rates
Can humans get Lungworm from cats?
This particular parasite is not known to infect humans.
Can cats die from Lungworm?
When your cat gets lungworm, it’s rarely fatal.
It’s more serious if your kitten isn’t well, but it’s rare that a cat dies from lungworm.
See this video below of a vet pulling a worm from a cats nose!
Heartworms In Cats: Horrendous.
These are spaghetti look-a-like white creatures that can grow to almost a foot long that infect indoor or outdoor cats.
And the dreaded mosquito is the driver.
Mosquitos are annoying to us but for cats can cause a horrid disease from a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis.
What causes heartworm in cats?
There are almost 30 species of mosquitos that will ingest larvae from other animals.
These larvae, called microfilariae, will take about a month to mature and enter into the mosquito’s mouth.
If an infected mosquito pierces your cat’s skin with the larvae, it could be potentially life-threatening.
It takes about 8 months for these worms to mature in your cat’s body. First through the skin, then the muscle tissue, then to the right ventricle of your cat’s heart.
Signs of your cat having heartworm:
- Intermittent vomiting (sometimes of blood as well as of food)
- Labored breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Fluid in the lungs
- Sudden Death
Is heartworm in cats fatal?
Misdiagnosed and untreated heartworm in cats can prove to be fatal.
Mostly because of the symptoms resemble asthma or a respiratory issue in the cat. There is no current treatment for heartworms in cats, only preventative treatment.
The severity of heartworms in cats depends on the number of worms in your cat’s body, how long the incubation lasts, and how your cats respond to them.
Can humans get heartworms from cats?
It’s very rare that heartworms will infect people.
The heartworm won’t complete its lifecycle but can migrate to your lungs and cause a lesion that’s round and looks like a tumor.
Whipworms In Cats: Wack.
What do whipworms look like?
Whipworms are about 1 – 3 inches long with the top half of the body that’s thick and the remaining half like a thin whip.
These too, are parasites, which mean it needs a host to survive. The eggs will stay unhatched out in the open until they are ingested.
Ingested by your cat:
- Drinking water that’s infested with the eggs
- licks dirt off her paws
- eats food with whipworm eggs
Read more at Wag.
What is the treatment for whipworms?
The most common and effective treatment for a whipworm infection is an antiparasitic medication, given by your vets such as Febantel, Praziquantel, Pyrantel Pamoate, Fenbendazole, Albendazole or Mebendazole.
These types of medications will get rid of the whipworm eggs and whipworm adults. They need to be taken for 1 – 3 days.
These are seemingly easy to administer by your vet and is done on an outpatient visit.
Can humans get whipworms from cats?
Humans can get whipworms from their own feces, not a cat’s feces.
What kills whipworms in cats?
There isn’t a specific cat whipworm treatment. Just anti-parasitic treatments, as stated above, for use on cats.
Take note, your cat may have different reactions to these medications. So, if they are vomiting after taking one, tell your vet to try another.
Below is a great video on how to get your cat to take a de-worming pill:
The dewormer he recommends using in the video instead of that pill:
- Homeo Pet Clear De-Wormer
- Or you can use Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade and mix in with your cat’s food
How To Get Rid Of Worms In Cats?
Routine deworming should be done every 3-4 months, more often if they are hunters.
Take care when deworming kittens that they are old enough to take the product.
The package insert should guide you on the age at which it is safe for kittens to take the medication.
Kittens, again, can get these worms from their mom’s milk and should be wormed at:
- 12 weeks old
After, every 3 months with an all-wormer for life.
If your cat is pregnant, you should treat her before she gives birth and every 3 months after.
Heavy worm infestations in cats should be repeated 10 days after the initial dose is administered.
If your cat can’t take a pill you can give them a paste that’s made for deworming. Always ask your vet on how to give this to your cat.
Especially if they’re finicky.
How can I treat my cat for worms at home?
You can try to treat your cat’s worms at home with some wormwood herbal de-wormer. It’s said to be safe and naturally effective against parasites.
Basically, it will clean out their intestines and have bowel movements. Always read the directions for any product and always consult your vet before giving this to your cat.
No guarantee it will get rid of any of the worms here in this article. Honestly, go to the vet and let them diagnose what your cat has and treat accordingly.