A Guide to Feline Worm Identification

This guide will better prepare you on feline worm identification. Your cat can become infected with certain kinds of internal parasites. Each of these parasites have different characteristics including size and shape. The most common feline parasites are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and heartworms.

Roundworms Look like Spaghetti

Roundworms are long, spaghetti-like worms that are white or brownish in color. They can reach up to 7 inches in length and live in the intestinal tract of your cat. There are three ways that your cat can become infected with roundworm:

  • Your cats can ingest worm eggs that are in the environment.
  • He can consume prey that is infected with roundworms.
  • Kittens can get roundworms by being nursed by infected mothers.

Roundworms are more common in kittens then adult cats. Adults cats have a natural immunity against the roundworm but can still become infected. You may notice roundworms in your cats vomit or stool. Symptoms include weight loss and a "pot bellied" stomach. Heavy infection an lead to pneumonia. Common deworming medication for roundworms are Drontal, Drontal Plus, Panacur and Revolution.

Tapeworms Are Flat

Tapeworms can range from 4 to 24 inches in length. They attach themselves to the intestinal walls of your cat. They are flat parasites and consist of a head, neck and many segments. Each segment contains eggs. These segments drop off the worm and are passed in the feces. Your cat can become infected with these worms through fleas or consuming rodents that are infected with tapeworms. You may notice moving or dry segments in your cats sleeping area, their feces or near their rear end.

Dry tapeworm segments have the appearance of rice. If your cat has fleas, fleas treatment should be given for the prevention of tapeworms. Common deworming medications for tapeworms are Droncit, Drontal, Drontal Plus and Profender.

Hookworms Have a Hook-Like Mouth

Hookworms are internal parasites that have a hook-like mouth that attach to the intestine walls of your cat. These parasites are more common in the summer months. They are not only tissue feeders but also suck blood from the intestinal wall causing anemia. This could result in death in young cats. Symptoms of hookworm infection are weight loss and unhealthy hair coat. Hookworms can be passed from mother cat to her kittens through nursing. They can also live in the environment and can infect your cat through ingestion or skin penetration. Common areas of skin penetration are the feet and the stomach. Deworming medication for hookworms are Nemex and Panacur.

Common Heartworm Symptoms

Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites only. If your cat is infected with hearworms they can not transmit it to other cats. Heartworms live in the heart and arteries leading to the lungs. Although uncommon in cats, heartworms can cause heart failure or lung damage.

Symptoms of heartworms are salivation, shock, increase heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, circling, blindness and seizures. To diagnose heartworm a blood test is necessary. It can take up to 6 months after your dog has been infected before a heartworm test will show positive. Multiple test are recommended. Common deworming medication for heartworms are Drontal, Drontal Plus and Profender.

If you suspect that your cat in infected with roundworms, tapeworms or hookworms, take a fecal sample to your veterinarian for identification and appropriate treatment. Because these parasites can infect other cats your veterinarian will likely treat all cats in your household.