Worms are a common problem in cats and this is true even if your kitties don’t venture out. The only good thing about these worms is that they are easy to detect. You can tell if your cat is host to these parasites by observing your kitty’s behavior.
As we all know, worms are never good whether they pester humans or animals. They tend to rob us of much needed nutrition. There are actually four types of worms that could be wreaking havoc in your cat’s digestive system.
Cats exhibit different symptoms depending on the kind of worm they are infested with. We will talk all about the process of telling whether your cat is infected by a worm and how to recognize the symptoms.
What you will need to help you determine if your cat has worms:
- Disposable gloves
- Popsicle Sticks
While this may not be the most fun thing you will do – it is definitely one of the most necessary if you think your cat has worms of any type!
How to Tell if Your Cat Has Worms
The primary thing that you would need is your powers of observation. There are simple symptoms that you would have to look out for to know if your cat is infested by worms.
Cats of all ages can have round worms and the scariest thing is the fact that it could be transmitted to humans. If you have a cat, the last thing you want is to get an illness from your cat that could have been prevented!
Changes in your cat’s body shape
The most common symptom associated with worms is having a potbelly. You would immediately notice it because it looks as if the area is swollen. This is an alarming sign and you should be on your way to the vet whether it is a bad case of worms or any other illness.
Look at your kitty’s gums
If your cat’s gums or ears seem to be pale – this may be a sign of anemia from the worms attacking the body. This would require a vet visit as soon as possible.
Kitty is always throwing up
By now, you would know the normal behavior for your cat and something else entirely. Although some cats vomit frequently, excessive vomiting should be a red flag.
Worms often induce vomiting for cats because they irritate the stomach lining. In some cases, these worms block the outflow to the cat’s stomach. Either way, you should see your cat’s vet since conditions leading to vomiting are serious.
Loss of vigor and energy
People are just like cats in the sense that their energy is often depleted when they are sick. When your cats don’t get sufficient nutrients from food because worms, they feel tired all the time.
When your cat is extremely playful and suddenly you notice a drop in energy level, this may be another red flag. If you notice any other signs that could indicate that your cat has worms, you should consult your vet.
Check the feces of your cat
Checking your cat’s stool is really the best way to know for sure if your cat has worms. We know it is not a pleasant experience to go digging into your cat poop – but it can be the difference into how early you can catch the worm infestation and how quickly you can make those gross things go away.
We have outlined the strategy for looking at your cat poop below so you know what to look for.
Examine your cat’s beddings
When kitty has worms, the eggs could stick to the place where they sleep. You can examine the cloth and see if there are any eggs there.
Look for something that looks like cucumber seeds just like the ones you were searching for in the cat feces.
Examine the anus of your cat
When your cat defecates, the feces pass through the anus so there is a high chance that tapeworms would stick there. Wear your gloves before you look into the anus of your cat. Pay special attention to the fur around it.
If you notice any white packets that look like seeds then it’s positive that your cat has worms and you should schedule a visit to the vet.
Evaluating Cat Poop For Worm Infestations
Among the most important things that you have to check are the feces of your kitty. You can visit the litter box once in a while to see if your cat is not suffering from bad bouts of diarrhea.
There are noticeable signs that your cat has a worm infestation. For instance, if the stool is tarry and dark, it could be hookworms. These worms attach themselves to the intestinal wall and cause blood loss, hence the appearance of the stool.
Another symptom of having worms is diarrhea. These worms interfere with the digestion of your cat since they are in the gut. If you notice that your kitty has been experiencing nonstop diarrhea for a 24 hour period, it’s time to call the vet.
If the diarrhea is not that bad but you want to see for sure if kitty has worms, you can examine the stool sample using the equipment above and doing the following:
- Step 1: Wear your gloves.
- Step 2: Take the popsicle stick to examine the feces of your cat.
- Step 3: Look for signs of egg packets that may be stuck to the stool’s surface. These eggs look like cucumber or sesame seeds. They may wriggle or move sometimes which is a sign that there are worms there.
- Step 4: Look for dark tarry stools – which can signal blood loss.
Most Common Types of Worms Found In Cats
The roundworm is the most commonly found worms in cats and kittens and often resemble spaghetti with their long thin look. They can grow up to 3 or 4 inches in length!
Cats typically get roundworm from eating infected rodents – kittens will typically get it from nursing from an infected momma cat.
Common signs of roundworms in cats:
- Bloated or enlarged belly
- Decrease in appetite
- Stunted growth in kittens
How are roundworms diagnosed?
If the infestation is bad enough you may see adult roundworms in your cat’s stool or vomit. Otherwise, a test can be done by your vet to test for the presence of eggs which can easily be seen under a microscope.
A much smaller worm that primarily lives in the small intestine, hookworms rarely grow more than an inch in length but are incredibly dangerous as they can cause anemia in cats.
They are appropriately named since they have a hook-like a mouth part at one end that allows them to attach to the lining of your pets intestinal wall.
While Hookworms do internally affect humans, the larvae they produce can burrow into skin and cause a disease “cutaneous larval migrans” or ground itch as some call it. This is extremely rare and usually happens when good hygiene is not being practiced.
They feed on blood and are passed through an animals stool so cats can become infected through ingestion or contact. The good news is that felines often get hookworms less and hookworms that are less aggressive than their canine counterparts.
More commonly found in warmer – moister climates, cats often get hookworms by swallowing the larvae – which can be done by simply grooming themselves and having a larvae on their body. Larvae of the hookworm can also attach to a cat and then migrate to their intestine.
Common signs of hookworms in cats:
- Lesions on the bottom feet and in-between toes
- Possible coughing
- Dark, tar-like stool
- Nostrils, lips and ears may be pale
How are hookworms diagnosed?
They cannot be seen with the naked eye so a vet visit is the best way to know for sure your cat has them. You will need a stool specimen that your vet can review under a microscope.
Tapeworms are long and flat and have a segmented body that can range in length up to 28 inches. Each of the segments of a tapeworm essentially has its own digestive system so it can break apart and spread around your cat internally.
Tapeworms can affect a cat when they ingest an infected flea, bird, rodent or any small animal they have ingested.
Tapeworms are often one of the easier to find on a cat because they can often be seen on your cats tushy and will appear as small little spots that almost look like rice.
Tapeworms are NOT typically passed to other cats or people – but can be transmitted if you ingest a mature flea that is carrying tapeworm larvae.
So – don’t eat fleas!
Cats are most commonly infected by fleas that are carriers of the tapeworm.
Little Creek Vet did a great post about Tapeworms and how to determine if your cat or dog has them with some great photos of what tapeworm looks like. The image on the right shows sesame seeds on the left and then the tapeworms on the right so you have a comparison!
Common signs of tapeworms in cats:
- Small white pieces of the worm will be seen in your cat’s stool or around your home
- Excessive licking of the anus
- Dragging their butt on the floor
How are tapeworms diagnosed?
Since these can be seen at home you can usually tell if your cat has tapeworms – but it would be beneficial to have your vet to do a thorough exam to determine the level of infestation. A fecal exam will be required to get the most accurate diagnosis.