Worms in Cats
Unwanted Internal Parasites

Worms in cats is relatively common and are often referred to as internal parasites or endo-parasites.

These nasty little organisms live and reproduce in their host, in this case your cat, and derive their nourishment from them.

Cat worms can seriously affect your cat's health and treating a cat with worms is essential.

Whilst most of the common feline worms are found in the digestive tract, there are worms that infect the lungs, the heart, bladder and the kidneys.

Some cat worms have a geographical incidence, meaning that they are found in some regions or countries and not in others.

The most common worms in cats are tapeworms and round worms and we provide in depth information about the different species of these types of worms.

feline tapeworms

There are 3 species of feline tapeworms found in cats.

  • Dipylidium Caninum is the most common tapeworm in cats and fleas are the intermediate host. Cats acquire the worm by ingesting fleas during grooming.
  • Taenia Taeniaformis tapeworm is found in cats that derive food from hunting rodents.
  • Diphyllobothrium Latum which is rare and found in free-feeding cats that consume fresh-water fish.

feline roundworms

There are a number of feline roundworms, but the most common are:

  • Toxocara Cati 
  • Toxascaris Leonina

Cats become infected by roundworms by consuming raw prey like birds and rodents that have consumed beetles and worms that are infested.

feline lungworms

Feline lungworms are types of roundworms that infect the lungs of cats.

Snails are the intermediate host and cats become infested by eating raw prey (birds and rodents) that have consumed slugs or snails.

feline hookworms

Cat hookworms are small roundworms. They live in and feed on blood in the small intestine of cats.

Cats excrete eggs in their feces and eggs develop into larvae.

Cats become infected if the larvae enter the body by penetrating the skin or if the larvae are swallowed.

Because these worms are microscopic in size, they cannot be seen and are therefore difficult to detect.

Hookworms can be fatal in kittens and cats. 

Symptoms of feline hookworms would include lethargy (weakness), bloody diarrhea and anemia.

If the larvae have entered via the skin the cat would present with dermatitis which would be difficult to notice because of the cat's fur.

If you detect any of these signs or symptoms, be sure to visit your veterinarian who will confirm diagnosis and prescribe the relevant treatment.

bladder worms in cats

There are two species of the cat bladder worms:

  • capillaria feliscati
  • capillaria plica

both are exceptionally rare.

Earthworms are believed to be the intermediary or secondary hosts. Larvae found in the environment are ingested and then makes its way from the intestines to the bladder.

Symptoms would include an enlarged bladder, pain on urination, frequent urination and blood in the urine. Microscopic examination of the urine would reveal excreted oval-shaped eggs.

Your vet would need to diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

whipworms in cats

The incidence of whipworms in domestic cats is very rare.

If present, they will be seen in the cecum, the pouch found just before the large intestine. It is described as a worm with a thin front and thicker rear end.

Symptoms would include diarrhea, weight loss and stools that are covered in mucus.

Your veterinarian would need to diagnose (via a fecal test) and recommend the relevant treatment.

cat worm symptoms | treatment

The signs and symptoms for feline worms vary depending on the type of worm that is present.

Generally speaking, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, a pot-belly in kittens, lethargy and the cat may look a little scruffy and out of condition.

Treatment of cat worms will depend on the specific worm infestation. Your vet will need to diagnose and recommend the appropriate medication.

The key, where possible is prevention.

The incidence of worms can be reduced by limiting your cat's exposure to hosts - i.e. fleas, slugs, snails, earthworms and rodents by keeping them indoors.

Finally, worms in cats can be prevented by regular de-worming using veterinary products designed to eradicate worms.

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