Cat worms are parasites that live inside a cat’s digestive system. Most cats have them several times in their life. They are so common that some owners ignore them, but they can have serious consequences for the cat if they are left untreated. So it is important to have your cat wormed regularly.
The most common types of worm affecting domestic cats are roundworm and tapeworm.
Roundworms In Cats
Roundworms have rounded, tube-shaped bodies and grow up to about 6 inches long. They are white in color. Unlike dog roundworms, the species that live in cats are very rarely passed on to humans and most cannot survive in the human body.
Roundworms are passed on very easily. Eggs are passed out in the cat’s excrement and can remain dormant in the ground for a long time before being picked up by another animal, or even the same animal some time later. They may pass into the bodies of mice or rats which are then eaten by a cat. Roundworms are also passed on in other ways including in the milk of a mother cat. Kittens are often infected in this way and should be routinely wormed to prevent damage to their developing digestive systems.
Tapeworms In Cats
Tapeworms have flat bodies like tape or ribbon and are much longer than roundworms, growing up to 4 feet long. They attach by their heads to the intestinal wall and grow in segments, each segment containing thousands of eggs. The segments break off from the body and are excreted in the feces, looking like grains of rice. Sometimes you can see them moving when they are first passed.
Tapeworms are usually passed on by fleas. They are picked up from the feces by immature fleas which later may be eaten by a cat during grooming.
Both types of cat worms live in the cat’s intestine, consuming the cat’s food and preventing it from benefiting from its nourishment. They can also damage the intestinal walls causing internal bleeding. If a cat is carrying many worms it may lose weight, develop a cough, become anemic or show signs of nutritional deficiency like poor coat and a pot belly. In kittens, an infestation of worms can kill.
Treatment is easy but you must be sure to treat all of the common types of worm, not just one. Kittens up to 4 months old should be treated approximately every three weeks. Older cats can be wormed every 2-6 months depending on their habits. An indoor cat who has no fleas is much less likely to pick up worms than a cat who hunts outdoors every night.
If your cat uses a litter tray, remove feces daily and clean the tray thoroughly once a week to keep eggs out of the tray. If you find cat droppings in your yard, bury them. These measures will help prevent your cat from suffering from cat worms too frequently.