Most Common Type Of Worms In Cats

Author: Dr. Juon Abbass

DVM M.Phil 

Most Common Type Of Worms In Cats

There are many health-related conditions that affect the overall well-being and performance of cats. Worm infestations are of the most serious health conditions which affect your beloved cat badly. Many cat owners ask questions about the different types of worms in cats and other related questions. For instance,

What to do if my cat has worms?

How to Prevent Worms?

In this blog, we will discuss the common parasites of cats and related facts under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.

What Are The Most Common Parasitic Cat Worms?

There are a number of worms that are found in cats. Here, we have summarized some important parasitic worms in cats.

  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Roundworms
  • Whipworms
  • Lungworms
  • Liver flukes
  • Heartworms
  • Stomach worms
  • Bladder worms

Intestinal Worms

This is important to note that intestinal worms (roundworms) are commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract of cats. The most commonly diagnosed roundworms are Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina. These roundworms affect cats of all ages and found throughout the globe.

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Worms In Cats?

Generally, cats show no symptoms (Asymptomatic). However, in some cases, cats show mild to life-threatening symptoms which totally depend upon the type of worm and severity of the infestation.

Here, we have summarized a few key signs and symptoms of worm infestation in cats.

  • Generalized weakness
  • Dullness and depression
  • Diarrhea (it may be bloody or mucoid).
  • Abrupt weight loss
  • Distended abdomen
  • Dehydration and poor body coat
  • Visible lesions on the skin (Due to external worms)
  • Anemia (paleness)
  • Shock or death in severe cases
  • Vomiting (worms can be observed in the vomit).

How Can Your Cat Get Worms?

There are different ways through which a cat gets worms. For example, a cat gets worms by coming in contact with the feces and eggs. (Note: an infested animal sheds the eggs of worms in feces).

Worms Via Grooming

Cats also contract worms as a result of grooming. They ingest eggs/infected feces through dirty fur and feet.

Worms Via Rodents

Rodents are also the main cause of worms in cats. Usually, outdoor cats kill the rodents and other small animals and contract worm larvae which undergo further developmental changes in the cat.

Note: Intestinal worms usually get entry into the cat’s body this way.

Worms Via Titter Box

In a multi-cat house, this is the most common way by which cats get worms. Cats contract worms by sharing the same litter box that acts as a source of worm eggs and infected feces.

Can Worms Cause Pain In Cats?

Definitely, worms can cause pain in cats. Larvae travel in the cat’s body and pass through the liver, stomach, and lungs which cause severe pain and discomfort in them.

Reasons

Worms lead to gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestine of your cat) that causes severe pain in them.

Lungworms damage the tissues of your cat’s lungs which lead to change in breathing pattern or dyspnea (difficulty in breathing).  These all conditions cause irritation, discomfort and pain in your beloved feline friend.

Can Indoor Cats Get Worms?

This has been observed that indoor cats generally contract tapeworms from the infected fleas.

Diagnostic tip:

You can clearly observe tapeworms around your cat’s anus. These worms come out of your cat’s anus even if she is sleeping. Tapeworms are segmented worms and they look like the grain of rice or sesame seeds. Do contact your vet, if you see such worms in your cat’s feces.

Which Worms Are Common In Kittens?

Roundworms are commonly found in kittens. They get these worms through the infected nursing mother (via ingestion of milk).

Note: This is ideal to deworm the kitten at a very young age. Deworm your kitten after every two weeks from the age of 3 weeks to almost 8 weeks.

What Should I Do If My Cat Has Worms?

If you suspect worm infestation in your cat, talk to your vet. There are a number of cat dewormers available in the market. They are available for oral use or for injection. Both methods are very effective in killing the larvae and adult worms.

Several Antihelmenthetics are available which give the best results in dealing with worms in cats. For example, fenbendazole, pyrantel, praziquantel. You can take suggestions from your vet with respect to the usage of these drugs.

Note: Overdose may result in toxicity, so beware of that. In addition, this is recommended that deworm your adult cat after every 1-3 months from the age older than 6 months.

Can You Get Worms From Your Cat?

Yes, owners can easily get worm infestation from the cats. The major modes of transmission include coming in contact with contaminated soil, gardening without gloves, and cleaning the litter boxes of cats without opting for the proper safety measures.

It is important to note that owners should follow all the safety measures and must focus on their personal hygiene.

How Can I Prevent Worms In My Cat?

There are several ways by which you can prevent worm infestations in your cat. Here, we have discussed a few key preventive methods.

  • Clean the litter box of your cat on regular basis. You can also change the litter regularly that helps in minimizing the risk of worms.
  • For outdoor cats, scoop the feces from the yard, sandboxes, and flower beds. This thing will help in breaking the life cycle of the worms.
  • For indoor cats, clean and vacuum your floor thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Last but not least, you must also take care of your personal hygiene. This thing will also prevent worm infestation in your cat.

Conclusion

Worms are found in cats of all ages. They cause mild to serious complications in cats. The important worms in cats include roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and hookworms. These worms cause a variety of symptoms in your cat. If a cat is left untreated, these worms may lead to severe anemia, dehydration, shock, and death. Being a responsible owner, this is your duty to get the worm examination of your cat on regular basis. Get a deworming schedule for your cat from your vet. Use all the medications only under the supervision of your vet.

REFERENCES

Manfredi, M.T., DiCerbo, A. and Genchi, M., 2007. Biology of filarial worms parasitizing dogs and cats. Mappe parassitologiche8, pp.40-5.

Schnyder, M., Di Cesare, A., Basso, W., Guscetti, F., Riond, B., Glaus, T., Crisi, P. and Deplazes, P., 2014. Clinical, laboratory and pathological findings in cats experimentally infected with Aelurostrongylus abstrusus. Parasitology research113(4), pp.1425-1433.

Sprent, J.F.A. and Barrett, M.G., 1964. Large roundworms of dogs and cats differentiation of Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina. Australian Veterinary Journal40(4), pp.166-171.

Yonetake, W., Fujii, T., Naito, M., Maeder, S. and Rugg, D., 2019. Efficacy and safety of a new topical formulation containing selamectin and sarolaner in the prevention of heartworm disease and the treatment of roundworm infection in cats presented as veterinary patients in Japan. Veterinary parasitology270, pp.S38-S44.

Deplazes, P., van Knapen, F., Schweiger, A. and Overgaauw, P.A., 2011. Role of pet dogs and cats in the transmission of helminthic zoonoses in Europe, with a focus on echinococcosis and toxocarosis. Veterinary parasitology182(1), pp.41-53.

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