At some point in your cat’s life they may get worms. Symptoms range from slight digestive upsets to more serious illnesses, so you should try and protect your cat as much as possible.
How does my cat get worms?
Cats can contract a variety of worms, including hookworm, ring worm and heartworm; the most common types of worm are roundworm and tapeworm. Kittens can be passed roundworms from their mother whilst they are lactating, and adult cats also often contract tapeworms. Worms can be passed along from infected individuals and from ingesting infected faeces, grass, parasites and raw meat.
What are the symptoms of worms?
Animals can have worms but look very healthy – sometimes you can only detect the presence of worms by examining your cat’s faeces. However, more often than not your cat will show some signs of having worms, such as diarrhoea, losing weight, dry and course fur, weakness and appetite increase. If kittens have a bad bout of worms they may also have a distended abdomen. You may also be able to see worms in faeces, vomit or around your cat’s bottom.
Coccidium (a bacteria) and toxoplasmosis (a parasitic disease) can show similar symptoms to worms, so if you see any of these it is best to go to your vet to find out the right course of treatment.
What can I do to help prevent worms?
Worms may be difficult to detect so it is best to treat your cat regularly. Speak to your vet to find out the best treatment plan for your pet. Usually your vet will prescribe a course of tablets, or a paste, to be given to your cat approximately every six months. Fleas can carry tapeworms, so it is important to treat your cat for fleas regularly; some flea treatments contain a wormer to help you protect your cat more efficiently. If your cat is pregnant, or has recently given birth, seek advice from your vet on how best to protect your cat and kittens from worms.
Some species of worms can be transferred from animals to humans, so ensuring good animal hygiene is really important; regularly wash and disinfect your animals’ bowls with pet-friendly disinfectant, and do the same with your litter trays. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly between handling your cats and eating as well.