How Do Cats Get Worms?

Understanding the Different Types of Worms in Cats

There are several types of worms that can infect cats, including roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and heartworms. Each type of worm has its own unique characteristics and methods of transmission.

Roundworms are the most common type of worm found in cats. They are long and spaghetti-like, and can be seen in a cat’s vomit or feces. Kittens can be infected with roundworms through their mother’s milk or from ingesting contaminated feces.

Tapeworms are flat and segmented, and can grow up to several inches in length. Cats can contract tapeworms by ingesting infected fleas or rodents, or by ingesting the eggs or segments of an infected tapeworm.

Hookworms are small and thin, and can cause anemia and other health issues in cats. They can be contracted through ingestion or through the skin, such as when a cat walks on contaminated soil.

Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites and can cause serious heart and lung problems in cats. They are less common in cats than in dogs, but can still be a serious health concern.

Understanding the types of worms that can infect cats is an important first step in preventing and treating worm infestations in your feline friend. Regular veterinary checkups and preventative medication can help keep your cat healthy and worm-free.

Routes of Transmission for Worms in Cats

There are several ways that cats can become infected with worms. Understanding these routes of transmission is essential in preventing and treating worm infestations in cats.

One common route of transmission is through ingestion. Cats can ingest worms by eating contaminated soil or feces, grooming themselves or other cats that are infected, or by eating infected prey such as rodents or birds.

Another common route of transmission is through flea bites. Fleas can be carriers of tapeworms, and if a cat ingests an infected flea during grooming, they can become infected with tapeworms.

Mother-to-kitten transmission is also possible. Roundworms can be transmitted from a mother cat to her kittens through her milk. It is important to deworm both the mother and her kittens to prevent the spread of roundworms.

Hookworms can also be transmitted through the skin. If a cat walks on contaminated soil or surfaces, the hookworm larvae can burrow into the skin and cause an infestation.

Finally, heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites. Outdoor cats are at a higher risk of contracting heartworms, but indoor cats can still be at risk if mosquitoes are present in the home.

By understanding the routes of transmission for different types of worms, cat owners can take preventative measures such as regular deworming and flea control to keep their cats healthy and free from worm infestations.

Symptoms of Worm Infestation in Cats

Worm infestations can cause a range of symptoms in cats. Some cats may not show any symptoms at all, while others may show more severe signs of infestation. Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Vomiting: Cats with worm infestations may vomit frequently, and may even vomit up worms.
  • Diarrhea: Infected cats may have loose or watery stools, sometimes containing blood or mucus.
  • Weight loss: Worms can compete with cats for nutrients, causing weight loss or a failure to gain weight.
  • Bloated abdomen: Some types of worms can cause a cat’s abdomen to become bloated or distended.
  • Dull coat: Infected cats may have a dull, dry, or scruffy-looking coat.
  • Coughing: Cats with heartworm infestations may cough or have difficulty breathing.
  • Lethargy: Infected cats may seem less energetic or less interested in playing or exploring.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it is important to take them to the vet for a thorough examination. A veterinarian can perform diagnostic tests to determine if your cat has a worm infestation and recommend a course of treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Worms in Cats

If you suspect that your cat has a worm infestation, it is important to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Here are some common methods of diagnosis and treatment for worms in cats:


  • Fecal exam: A veterinarian may examine a stool sample to look for evidence of worm eggs or larvae.
  • Blood test: In the case of heartworms, a blood test may be performed to detect the presence of heartworm antigens or antibodies.


  • Deworming medication: There are several types of deworming medications available that can be given orally or by injection. The medication will target the specific type of worm infestation present in your cat.
  • Flea control: In the case of tapeworms, flea control is important to prevent re-infestation.
  • Heartworm treatment: If a cat is diagnosed with heartworms, they may need more aggressive treatment such as injections or surgery.

It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for treatment and follow-up care to ensure that the worm infestation is fully treated. Additionally, preventative measures such as regular deworming and flea control can help prevent future infestations.

Preventive Measures for Worms in Cats

Preventing worm infestations in cats is key to keeping them healthy and happy. Here are some effective preventative measures you can take:

  • Regular deworming: Your veterinarian can recommend a deworming schedule based on your cat’s lifestyle and risk factors. Regular deworming can help prevent infestations from occurring in the first place.
  • Flea control: Keeping your cat free of fleas can help prevent tapeworm infestations.
  • Proper hygiene: Clean your cat’s litter box frequently and wash your hands after handling your cat’s feces to prevent the spread of worm eggs.
  • Prevent hunting: Keep your cat indoors or provide a safe enclosed outdoor space to prevent them from hunting and ingesting infected prey.
  • Regular veterinary checkups: Regular checkups can help catch worm infestations early and prevent them from becoming severe.

By following these preventative measures, you can help keep your cat healthy and worm-free. Be sure to discuss any concerns or questions with your veterinarian to ensure that your cat receives the best possible care.

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