Categories: parasitic worms

How do I know if my cat has worms?

Presumption

The first point to make is that it’s probably sensible to make a presumption that your cat has worms if she is an indoor/outdoor cat. She’s likely to hunt and eat mice and in doing so ingest worms. The particular worms I am referring to are roundworms (ascarids). They are the most common worm parasite in cats and there are two common species.

They occur in 25-75% of adult cats. It is reasonable to make a presumption that outdoor cats have this worm because they ingest the eggs by (1) contact with the soil where the eggs are and licking their feet or (2) eating a host animal such as a mouse in which the encysted larvae lives. If the cat spends lots of time outside and hunts a lot she may acquire a heavy infestation.

Also there is a greater likelihood of picking up fleas if your cat is an outside cat. If your cat has fleas it is likely she’ll have tapeworms because the flea carries immature tapeworms in their intestines. The cat eats a flea when grooming and therefore ingests the tapeworm.

Hookworms are not as common in cats as in dogs but again can pick up the parasite through their feet by the parasites penetrating the skin or rarely through eating mice which are hosts to the larvae.

You can see that outdoor cats are quite likely to have worms and therefore a monthly treatment is advised.

My cat lives in a garden enclosure and no longer eats prey. I don’t give him deworming pills. This is a personal choice and some people would say a bad choice.

How do I know if my cat has worms? Signs

Other than a sensible presumption as mentioned above, there are some signs.

Hookworms

Diarrhoea, anaemia, weight loss and getting weaker. If the infestation is heavy the cat’s faeces may be bloody and dark (tarry-black). A diagnosis by a vet is made by seeing eggs in the cat’s faeces.

Roundworms

Heavy infestation: pot-bellied, thin, severe illness and possible death. Vomiting, diarrhoea, anemia, pneumonia. Stool or vomit may contain the worm. They look like earthworms or moving strands of spaghetti.

Tapeworms

Tapeworm segments can be seen on the cat’s bum. They may move if moist or look like rice when dried up. These segments are passed in the faces. They might also be on the cat’s stool.

Human health consideration

There is also a human health issue worth noting. Roundworms can cause a disease in people: visceral larva migrant. It is one of the top zoonotic diseases. The primary culprit is the dog version of the worm: Toxocara canis but Toxcara cati can also cause human disease. Children are most at risk because they like to put things in their mouth even earth.

When a person eats a roundworm egg the larvae develops in the person but they don’t develop into worms but wander around the internal tissue of the person causing general illness such as fever, anemia, pneumonia and other illnesses.

Migrating larvae can get into a person’s eye causing ocular larva migrans which can lead to the loss of an eye.

Can I get a tapeworm from my cat?

Can I get a tapeworm from my cat? Theoretically, yes, it is possible to get a tapeworm from your cat ...
Read More

How do cats get roundworms?

Domestic and feral cats get roundworms by ingesting the eggs. They ingest eggs in various ways, perhaps by being in ...
Read More

Pictures of cat tapeworm and tapeworm segments

Here is a collage of cat tapeworms and tapeworm segments that I have prepared because people search for 'What do ...
Read More

Europeans do not deworm their cats often enough

The cat roundworm Toxocara cati can infect humans as well. In other words your cat could transmit a roundworm infestation ...
Read More

Picture of giant, gross kidney worm that infected a dog but cats can get them too

This giant parasitic worm is gross and they do sometimes inhabit domestic cats! The size of it. It is hard ...
Read More

How do I know if my cat has worms?

You should be concerned that your cat might have worms if he or she is an indoor/outdoor cat and enjoys ...
Read More

Domestic cats eat grass to purge parasitic worms from their gut

There has been a long discussion on the internet about the reasons why domestic cats eat grass. Many years go, ...
Read More
Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

My neighbour’s cat asks to be let in all the time, so is he neglected?

It is not uncommon for neighbourhood cats to want to visit neighbour's homes. You won't…

2 hours ago

Radon gas increases the chance of your cat getting lung cancer

Background Radon gas is a mysterious substance which appears to be all around us, all…

3 hours ago

12 facts about the Nebelung cat

Here are 12 listed facts about the Nebelung cat. I hope you find them useful.…

16 hours ago

21 reasons to take your cat to the vet

Here is a list of reasons to take your cat to the vet. Richard H.…

20 hours ago

Panicking man, giggling woman and complacent cats fail to catch a terrified mouse

I can understand the minor chaos caused by a mouse brought into the home by…

1 day ago

Average weight of a tiger in pounds

Web surfers want to know the average weight of a tiger in pounds. This might…

1 day ago