Cat Worms: Symptoms and Treatment

When cats have worms it is important to recognize the symptoms early and apply the proper treatment quickly and correctly to solve the problem and prevent any future health risks. The most common type of worms includes hookworm, roundworm and tapeworm.

Symptoms of Worms

Diagnosing the presence of worms in cats is usually a straightforward procedure with simple follow-up treatments. Worms sometimes appear in a cat's vomit or stool over time as the case gets worse. Kittens are more likely to exhibit more severe symptoms while older cats may not seem very sick at all, which is why an examination from your vet is essential to discover if your cat has worms. Bring a sample of your cat's stool so the vet can examine the sample for eggs or larvae which can only be seen under a microscope.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Bloody stool and diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Unhealthy and dull coat
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of growth in kittens
  • Anemia and pale gums
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Appearance of a pot belly
  • Licking of the anal area or rubbing this area on the floor
  • Presence of tapeworm segments near the cat's rectum; these segments look similar to rice or sesame seeds

Treatment and Prevention

The type of treatment that is best for your cat will depend on the type of worm and the severity of the infestation.

  • Isolation: Keep your infected cat away from other animals and others in your home to prevent the spread of worms. Litter boxes should also be cleaned. If you have multiple cats, keep one litter box in the isolated area where your sick cat is located and don't allow other pets to use it or go nearby. Cats should also be kept inside to avoid contact with contaminated feces or rodents.
  • Dewormers: Also known as anthelmintics, dewormers can be bought over the counter or prescribed by your veterinarian and help to prevent infection in your kitten or cat. Kittens should be dewormed at around 6 weeks and again at 8 and 10 weeks. Adult cats should have regular deworming treatment depending on their level of outdoor activity and health history.
  • Oral treatments such as Drontal®, which is also available as a topical medication. Spot-on topical treatments like Revolution. Consult with your veterinarian about the best medication and dosage amounts to use.
  • Keep it clean: Maintain proper hygiene to prevent infection or the spread of the worms. A clean environment will also help to prevent any future incidence of worms and spreading the parasites to humans. In your yard, clean up leaves and damp areas and look out for any dead animals or animal feces. Indoors, clean litter boxes and bedding regularly.