Symptoms of Parasitic Worms in Cats

Parasite worms in cats generally reside in the intestine. The eggs and larvae of these parasites can remain dormant for long periods and infest at an appropriate time. The infestations are triggered by factors such as stress and diet, which then allows the worms to migrate to the surface. When this happens, the symptoms of parasite worms in cats show up in various forms.  

Incidence of Parasitic Worms in Cats 

Parasites like hookworms and roundworms are capable of surfacing abruptly in the advanced stages of a cat’s pregnancy, and get transmitted to the newborns either when in the womb or through the milk they drink from the mother.  

Adult cats can get infected when they eat the feces of an infected animal, or when they kill and eat other infected prey like rodents and cockroaches. The larvae of roundworms in infected cats can migrate to different parts of the body including the eyes, which leads to damaged vision.  

Symptoms of Parasitic Worms

Since the parasitic infections in worms manifest in the stomach and intestine, the symptoms show up in relation to this. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • An extended or large abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased appetite, along with unexplained weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Listlessness

When infected by tapeworms, your cat may have severe abdominal pain, cough, fever and pneumonia. If untreated, it can lead to heart and liver disease. Tapeworms are excreted in the feces, but some tend to stick to the anal area, causing irritation and itching, which your cat will display by excessive licking of private parts.  

Since most of the symptoms are general in nature and can be caused by even brief stomach upset and not necessarily worms, these symptoms cannot be considered conclusive. If you find your cat displaying any of the above symptoms, examine the vomit or feces closely. The worms will show up in dead form, or as eggs and larvae. While they can remain dormant for years, when active they can reproduce at the rate of a hundred thousand in a single day, and can quickly cause severe damage.

Roundworms and hookworms can even be fatal if left untreated, and can even infect you and other family members, so they should be treated immediately. Cats infected by parasites, or those that have an increased incidence of parasite infection even after treatment, will be vulnerable to other severe diseases.  

Tapeworms are the easiest to identify. They're present in the fur and the tail of the cat and are easily visible. Therefore, they can be diagnosed easily and treated quickly.

The worst type of parasitic worm is the heartworm, which can go undetected. Infected through the bite of a mosquito, there are almost no symptoms for this type of infection, which can damage the heart-lung functioning of your pet. Heartworm infection cannot even be confirmed with single blood tests, as the worms never show up in any test. There is also no sure treatment for this infection.