Intestinal worms are very common in kittens and adult cats. Cats may show no signs at all unless they have a very heavy worm infestation. Cats can get infected with worms through one or more of the following routes:
• Kittens are often infected by the mother while still in the uterus.
• Drinking contaminated milk from the mother during nursing.
• Rolling in, sniffing, eating, or licking contaminated soil/utensils.
• Hunting infected prey like rodents, birds, and reptiles.
• Mosquito, flea and tick bites and ingestion.
• Coming into contact with an infected cat or another infected animal/animal vomits or feces.
What are some types of parasites found in cats?
Worms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites in cats; they measure about 3-4” long and resemble spaghetti. Hookworms are also common in cats, but they are typically much smaller than roundworms. They are usually less than 1” long and can cause life-threatening anemia in adult cats and especially in kittens. Tapeworms are also found long and flat, resembling strips of tape. They are segmented and can also infect cats, and they are anywhere from 4-24” in length. Over time, a tapeworm infestation usually causes vomiting and weight loss.
If my cat has worms, what symptoms should I look for?
Heavy worm burdens can cause irritation around the anus, enlarged abdomen, weight loss and vomiting and diarrhea (sometimes containing worms). Some worms can also infect people, so regular deworming is vital for feline and human health.
Are worms dangerous to humans?
Humans can get infected with cat worms. However, they are considered an abnormal host for feline worms, so they become lost and confused in a human body and do some unusual things. Eggs of roundworms are excreted in cat feces. After two weeks in the open, they can become infectious to humans. If accidentally ingested, the worms can migrate to organs such as the liver, lungs, brain or eyes. The human body generates an immune response to try to wall them off and prevent them from moving any further. The disease in humans is known as visceral larva migrans. If in the eye, it is known as ocular larva migrans. Children are at a higher risk of infection. Humans can also be infected with feline hookworms and tapeworms. As with roundworms, eggs are excreted in the feces of infected cats.
What is the deworming schedule?
Once the specific type of worm has been identified, your vet will prescribe your cat a course of medication designed to eradicate the worms. These medications differ by worm type (i.e. roundworm treatment may not work to kill tapeworms). You may notice worms and/or worm segments in your cat’s feces. Don’t be alarmed as this is just their body ridding itself of the parasites, but do be cautious when handling or disposing of the feces.
The best way to prevent a parasitic infection in your cat is to deworm regularly. Deworming protocols differ between kittens and adult cats and also between indoor and outdoor cats. Please call our clinic at 204.489.9111 to speak to one of our team members and discuss options and pricing.
Are there any side effects from deworming medication?
Although side effects of dewormer medications are uncommon, some cats may have vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or increased salivation. These symptoms, if occurred, are usually seen within 24 hours of taking the medication and should spontaneously resolve.