Roundworms and tapeworms are the most common types of cat worms affecting domesticated cats.
The good news is that roundworm can’t be passed from a cat to a human as easily as it can in dogs. The cat version of roundworms just don’t survive well in the human body. They can be spread very easily, usually through the cat’s poo. There, they can transfer to the ground and remain there for a long time, until another unsuspecting animal comes along. Roundworms can even be transferred to your cat by an infected mouse or rat they catch. If you have a nursing cat, she can also transfer the worms through the milk. That’s usually how kittens are infected by roundworms and why they should be wormed. Left untreated, roundworms can damage your kitten’s still developing digestive tract.
Tapeworms look like a long ribbon or piece of tape, sometimes growing as long as 4 feet long. Once inside the intestinal wall they attach their heads to the wall liner. They can then grow in segments and each segment can contain thousands of eggs. Eventually the segments break off and are removed from the body through the fecal matter. If your cat’s poo has little grains of rice that are moving, those are tapeworms.
Fleas which seem to come up a lot with cat health questions are the usual method of transfer. Immature fleas can pick up the tapeworms and then deliver them to the cat.
One of the major problems with either type of worms is that it can seriously interfere with your cat’s ability to get the proper nutrition they require. Left untreated, the worms can also seriously damage the intestinal walls, causing internal bleeding.
If your cat is losing weight, appears anemic or is getting an unkempt coat or pot belly, they may have worms.
Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to cat worms as well as all other cat health questions. Kittens up to 4 months should get worm treatments every three weeks. An older cat should be treated every 2 to 6 months. The frequency largely depends on your cat’s lifestyle (are they an indoor or outdoor cat?). Healthy sanitation habits can also reduce the chance of a worm infestation. Scooping the litter tray daily and cleaning it thoroughly once a week can keep the eggs at bay, as can promptly disposing of feces out in the yard.
Being aware of the presence of any sign of worms is an important first step. Thankfully, there are many products out there today that are designed to remove and even prevent worms in your cat.