Cats are fabulous creatures that have the ability to charm their way into our lives and our hearts. They are often considered to be part of the family, and their health and well-being are of the utmost importance to us.
It is no surprise then that we are very concerned when our cats are infected with intestinal parasites, which are commonly referred to as worms. These greedy interlopers can steal a cat’s nutrition and even make humans sick. Have you ever wondered "how does an indoor cat get worms"?
Here's what you need to know!
Common Worms in Cats
Worms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be regionally specific, seasonal, or even make their way through a specific cat population. Here are a few of the most common worms in cats (p.s. we have also prepared cat worms pictures for you!).
The most common intestinal parasites in cats, roundworms measure about 3-4” long and resemble spaghetti (yuck!). Roundworms are long, thin worms that can grow up to seven inches in length.
They are the most common type of worm found in cats and kittens, and can be passed to them from their mother’s milk or from contact with contaminated soil. Roundworms can cause a number of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss.
Much smaller than roundworms, hookworms are usually less than 1” long and live in cats’ small intestines. They can cause life-threatening anemia in adult cats and especially in kittens.
Hook worms in cats are small, thin worms that attach themselves to the lining of the intestine. They are usually passed to kittens from their mother, and can also be contracted by contact with contaminated soil. Hookworms can cause anemia and weight loss in cats.
Tapeworms are long and flat, resembling strips of tape. They are segmented and can be anywhere from 4-24” in length.
Tapeworms attach themselves to the wall of the intestine. They are usually contracted by eating infected fleas, though they can also be passed from an infected mother to her kittens. Tapeworms can cause weight loss and diarrhea in cats.
How Cats Get Worms
It’s much easier for cats to get parasites than you might think. Cats usually pick up worms themselves by ingesting the feces of other infected cats. For this reason, outdoor cats are far more likely to suffer from worms.
However, if you have recently adopted a cat, or have had one for a while, you can always check on their behavior and actions when you are away from home. Petcube's interactive pet camera gives you access to unlimited remote communication with your cat (or dog!).
According to research, since worms live in a wide variety of hosts, cats can get certain parasites by ingesting infected animals like snails, slugs, fleas, or even rodents. Mother cats can also pass worms on to their kittens during nursing or even through close contact.
Cats who don’t receive regular preventative care are most at-risk of worm infestation. Since fleas can harbor a wide variety of bacteria and parasites, keeping your cat flea-free is the first step towards keeping them worm-free, too.
How to Tell if Your Cat Has Worms
Worms present in a variety of ways. Some cats display lots of visible symptoms while some don’t show any signs at all. Evaluation for parasite infection is one of the most important reasons for a qualified veterinarian to see your cat at least once a year.
Although an on-site evaluation is a must in the case of worms, you can get a timely response on how to build an evaluation schedule online.
A few of the most common signs your cat might have worms include:
- Visible worm segments or whole worms in your cat’s feces or around his anus;
- Bloody stool/diarrhea;
- Unexplained weight loss (especially if hunger level is unchanged);
- Bloated or especially rounded belly;
- Constant coughing;
- Difficulty breathing.
If you have any reason to suspect your cat might have worms, make an appointment with a veterinarian immediately. Only a vet can accurately diagnose your pet with worms and provide your cat with the medicine he needs to get rid of parasites.
Also, remember that it is possible for cats to transmit certain kinds of worms to humans! Roundworms, for example, can easily travel from feline to human host. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching a cat you suspect might have worms and to use gloves if handling his feces.
How to Treat and Prevent Worms
Treatment for parasites in cats is usually relatively simple. Once the specific type of worm has been identified, your vet will prescribe your cat a course of medication designed to eradicate the infection. These medications differ by worm type; i.e. roundworm treatment won’t work to kill hookworms.
After being treated for worms, you’ll notice worms and/or worm segments in your cat’s feces. Don’t be alarmed – this is just his body ridding itself of the parasites – but do be cautious when handling or disposing of the excrement.
The best way to prevent parasitic infection in your cat is to keep him out of harm’s way. So, can an indoor cat get worms? Cats who live indoors are less likely to get worms, as are cats who stay flea- and tick-free through the use of prescription prevention medications.
Home Remedies For Worms in Cats
There is no one definitive answer to this question, as the best home remedy for worms in cats may vary depending on the type of worm infestation present.
However, some potential home remedies for worms in cats may include giving the cat pumpkin seeds (as they contain cucurbitacin, which is thought to have worming properties).
Honey and papaya are also considered as an optional home remedy. Honey is a natural disinfectant and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which has been shown to have anthelmintic activity.
Please note that whatever you decide to do at home regarding your cat's worms and symptoms related to it - always consult with the vet and don't make any decisions without a chat with a qualified veterinarian about it.
Online Vet and Emergency Fund by Petcube
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There is no more urgent need to go straight to the veterinary clinic and stress yourself and your pet even more by going on the road. Online Vet visits give you an opportunity to be in touch with a vet - anytime & anywhere you are.
Read more: What To Expect From An Online Vet Visit
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