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Our handy guide has everything you need to know about worms in cats, from how to tell if your cat has worms to getting rid of these pesky parasites.

Cats can usually get two types of intestinal worms – tapeworm or roundworm. If left untreated, they can cause your cat problems but are far more dangerous to kittens. This is why it’s important to regularly treat your cat for worms (you can read more on this below).



What are worms in cats?

Worms are parasites that cats can get by accidentally eating their eggs.

There are two main types of intestinal worm your cat might get:

  • tapeworm. These are very long, flat worms that attach themselves to the wall of the gut. Your cat may pass these worms in segments
  • roundworm. These are the most common type of worm and look like white earthworms

Cats can also get another type of worm called lungworm, however this is not an intestinal worm. Read more about lungworm on our advice page.

How do cats get worms?

Cats can pick up worms from a variety of sources, from eating prey such as birds or mice, from having fleas which carry worm larvae, or from their mother's milk as kittens.

Symptoms of intestinal worms in cats

You may not realise your cat has worms at first. Some common signs to look out for include:

  • tapeworm segments in your cat’s poop, around their bottom or in their bedding (like grains of rice)
  • weight loss
  • eating more
  • itchy bottom
  • diarrhoea
  • kittens with a severe infestation can get a rounded potbelly

If your cat has any of these symptoms you should always take them to your vet to get checked over.

How to treat worms in cats

Regularly worming your cat is the best way to kill any worms that they may have. Worming treatments are usually tablets you give to your cat, although some treatments such as an injection or spot-on treatments applied to the skin are available. Watch our video on how to give a cat a tablet.

The best treatment for worms in cats would be from your vet as these are treatments proven to be most effective. Your vet will be able to advise which treatments are most suitable depending on the types of worms found where you live and what treatments best suit your cat’s lifestyle. Different types of worms may require different treatment, so speak to your vet about what is best for your cat. Make sure you keep up with regular worming treatment.

Some treatments available ‘off the shelf’ are not as effective and may not completely treat the infestation.

Make sure you regularly clean any poop out of your cat’s litter tray to avoid reinfection with any worm eggs in your cat’s faeces. If they have recently had worms, wash their bedding on a high temperature to kill any eggs that may be in it. Be sure to treat any other animals in your home for worms too.

Some types of tapeworm are passed to your cat through fleas, so make sure you also regularly treat your cat for fleas. Read more about fleas on cats in our guide.

Worms in kittens

Kittens can get worms, especially if their mother already has them. Roundworm can pass through a mother’s milk to her kittens. This is why it’s important to regularly treat your cat for worms especially if she is pregnant. Check with your vet before treating a pregnant cat to make sure you are giving her a product which is safe to use.

Worm infestations can be more serious for kittens as they are still growing and desperately need the nutrients that worms feed on.

Kittens can be treated for worms from three weeks old. Speak to your vet for the best treatment for your kitten.

From six weeks old, healthy kittens will usually have a monthly treatment against roundworms. From six months old, they can have roundworm and tapeworm treatments every three months.

Remember to weigh your kitten before any worming treatment is given to ensure they receive the correct dosage. You vet will be able to recommend the best product for your kitten.

Can worms live outside a cat’s body?

Intestinal worms cannot live for long outside your cat’s body. Worm eggs can survive for years in soil and poop, though, so it’s always important to wash your hands thoroughly after touching your cat or disposing of their poop.

Can I catch worms from my cat?

Although it’s uncommon, humans can catch worms from cats. Good hygiene such as cleaning up your cat’s poop as soon as possible, and washing your hands afterwards, will help prevent this. If you have young children at home, encourage handwashing after playing in the garden and cover up their sandpit to avoid unwanted contact with cat poop. Regularly treat your cat for worms and make sure you see a doctor if you are worried you may have caught worms.

Can other pets catch worms from my cat?

If you have other pets, such as another cat or a dog, then it is possible that they could get worms, too, if your cat has them. You should make sure you treat all animals in your house for worms regularly. Do not use dog worm treatments on cats and vice versa. Ask your vet for the correct treatment for each pet.

How should I clean my house if my cat has worms?

If your cat has worms, there is a chance there could be worm eggs around your home. Get your cat treated as soon as possible to make sure they are clear of worms.

You should thoroughly clean all of your cat’s bedding on a hot wash and any other blankets or sheets they may have touched. Carpets can be steam cleaned to kill off any remaining eggs and hard floors can be treated with an antibacterial cleaner or a mild bleach solution to make sure any eggs are killed. If you’re using chemical cleaners in any rooms, make sure they are thoroughly rinsed and the room aired before letting your cat back into them.

You should completely clear your cat’s litter tray and give it a deep clean with hot soapy water. You can also throw boiling water on any areas outside they may have gone to the toilet (after disposing of their poop) to kill off any eggs but remember that this will kill any plants or grass.

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