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).
Worms are parasites that cats can get by accidentally eating their eggs. 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.
There are two main types of intestinal worm your cat might get:
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.
You may not realise your cat has worms at first. Some common signs to look out for include:
If your cat has any of these symptoms you should always take them to your vet to get checked over.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remember to weigh your cat before any worming treatment is given to ensure they receive the correct dosage.
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.
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.