Worms can pose a serious health threat to cats and kittens and should be dealt with immediately. Today, our Hopkinsville vets discuss what pet owners should know about worms in cats and kittens.
Worms in Cats & Kittens
Worms are a type of parasite that can live inside your cat, stealing the nutrients your kitty needs to survive. Roundworms and Tapeworms are the most common and with these, your feline friend might not exhibit any symptoms during the early stages. It doesn't matter the breed, age, or lifestyle, of your cat, they are still at risk of becoming infected. If you don't have your cat's worms treated as quickly as possible they can develop anemia, a distended/swollen stomach, or even death.
Thankfully, there are medications available that can help prevent your cat from getting these dangerous parasites.
How Can Cats Get Worms?
The most common way cats can get worms is by being exposed to infected feces or parasite eggs, such as by walking through an infected area and licking the particles off their fur during grooming and ingesting it.
Cats (including indoor cats) can also easily get worms by sharing a litter box with another infected cat, hunting and eating infected mice and other prey, and ingesting infected fleas. Kittens may even get worms from drinking their mother's milk if they are infected.
The Types of Worms That Can Infect Cats
There are a handful of worms that are often seen in cats including:
There are also various types of worms that aren't usually as common but, can severely impact your kitty's health and could potentially be fatal. Some of these may also be more common in some areas than others.
- Liver flukes
- Stomach worms
- Bladder worms
The Signs & Symptoms of Worms in Cats
The kind of symptoms your cat develops as well as their severity will depend on the type of worm that is infecting your cat. Some cats that have worms may even be asymptomatic, exhibiting no signs or symptoms at all, whereas in other cases a cat's symptoms could be very serious and life-threatening. With some kinds of worms (generally tapeworms) the first sign you might notice is the appearance of dead adult worms (white and grain shaped) in your kitty's stool or stuck on their behind or tail fur.
Below we have listed several common signs and symptoms of worms in cats:
- Lack of energy
- Weight loss
- Anemia (pale gums and lips)
- Poor coat condition
- Diarrhea (may contain blood or worms)
- Distended abdomen
- Low blood pressure
- Vomiting (could contain worms)
- Death (in the most severe cases)
If you see your kitty exhibiting any of the signs detailed above, call your vet as soon as possible so they can diagnose the kind of worms your cat has and begin treatment as quickly as possible.
Treating Worms in Cats
Take your cat to the vet straight away if you think they have worms. Your vet will implement a comprehensive physical examination of your feline companion, which may consist of a fecal exam.
Following your pet's diagnosis, your vet may provide your cat with deworming medications on the spot, either by injection or orally. You might also be provided with medications for whipworm, roundworm, hookworm, or tapeworm to give your cat at home. If your vet sends you home with take-home medications, it's very important that you carefully follow their instructions to make sure you get rid of all the worms. Sometimes multiple doses of deworming medications are needed to kill any parasites that might have hatched after the first dose was given.
If your cat's condition goes unaddressed or isn't treated fast enough, the worms will keep thriving and migrating within your cat's body, stealing vital nutrients, causing very serious and potentially fatal conditions such as weight loss, pneumonia, blindness, serious skin infections, progressive anemia, and dehydration.
Preventing Worms In Cats
The best treatment for worms in cats is prevention, because it's safer, keeps your pet healthy, and costs less than treating the worms themselves.
Some at-home measures you can implement to prevent worms include cleaning and disinfecting your cat's litterbox regularly and picking up any poop that is in your yard or other areas where your cat likes to go, to limit exposure.
The best way to protect your kitty from worms and other parasites is to keep them on routine preventive medications provided by your vet. You should also take your cat to the vet for routine checkups and fecal exams to catch any arising conditions early when they are most treatable.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.