Worms and other parasites are a common health issue for cats, particularly in cats that spend time outside. It can be very difficult to tell if your cat has worms, which is why owners should always be on the lookout for warning signs.
Here’s how to tell if your cat has worms and what to do about it.
What are the symptoms of parasite infections in cats?
The symptoms of worms in cats can vary slightly, depending on what type of worms they have and their age. If you notice any symptoms of worms, it’s important to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible so they can get the appropriate treatment. Some of the most common symptoms of worm infections include:
- Weight loss and increased appetite. This happens because the worm is depleting the cat of its nutrients.
- Depending on the type of worms your cat has, you may even be able to see them in the cat’s feces. Blood in the cat’s feces can also indicate the presence of worms.
- Lack of energy and sleeping more than normal.
- A rounded belly (in kittens)
- If your cat has lungworms, you may also notice coughing and difficulty breathing.
Keep in mind that most adult cats that have worms have no symptoms at all. Because of this, your cat may need regular worm treatments at home – with the frequency dependent on their lifestyle. Your vet may also want to do a fecal exam to look for presence of worms before prescribing treatment.
Worms are particularly dangerous for kittens, so keep an eye on your little one to make sure that they are not showing any symptoms.
How can I treat my cat’s worms?
If you notice that your cat has worms, your vet will likely recommend an anti-worming medication for your cat to take at home. The specific medication you’ll need will depend on what type of worms your cat has. Some medications are only designed for one specific type of worm, while others can kill multiple types of worms.
Worming medication can come as a liquid, as a tablet, as a tasty chew, as a spot-on, or as granules to mix into the food, depending on the product your cat needs. If you struggle to give your cat their wormer, you can ask your vet to give it, or ask whether a different formulation is available.
What happens if the worms aren’t treated?
There can be long-term health consequences if your cat’s worms aren’t properly treated, which is why it’s so important to take care of these issues as soon as they arise. Worms often cause nutritional deficiencies, leaving cats lethargic and uncomfortable. If the worms go untreated, they can lead to gastrointestinal issues as well.
Kittens with worms will not be able to grow and develop properly. They may be at risk of an intestinal intussusception, a life-threatening problem with their guts.
It’s also important to understand that cat worms are dangerous for people and other animals, too. Regular worming of cats is recommended as part of a public health strategy to reduce the risk of cat worms to children, pregnant women, and livestock.
How can I prevent worms in the future?
There are a number of things that you can do to prevent worms from causing ongoing problems. Keeping your cats indoors and discouraging them from hunting can help reduce the frequency of worm infections. Although worms can infect cats anywhere, they are more common outdoors.
Tapeworms hitch a ride on fleas, so keeping your cat’s flea prevention up to date is important. You should give your cats a tapeworm treatment if they have a flea infestation.
It’s also important to wash your cat’s toys, bedding, and litter box on a regular basis. Some worms are too small to see with the naked eye, but regular cleaning can help to ensure that their eggs aren’t in your cat’s things.
Although worms are unpleasant, they are also very common. It’s important to check your cat for worms frequently to ensure they are happy and healthy.