Finding worms on your cat can be alarming, but try not to panic. Worms are relatively common in cats, especially kittens. The good news is that most worms are treatable if addressed properly. Here’s a quick guide on what to do if you find worms on your cat:
Identify the Type of Worm
There are a few common intestinal worms that infect cats:
- Roundworms – Most common. Look like long spaghetti strands in the stool or vomit.
- Tapeworms – Segmented flat worms. May see rice-like proglottid segments around anus.
- Hookworms – Rare. Microscopic eggs require fecal test.
- Whipworms – Rare. Microscopic eggs require fecal test.
Take a photo or sample to show your vet. Proper identification ensures proper treatment.
Contact Your Veterinarian
Your vet is the best resource for getting treatment recommendations for your cat. Call them as soon as possible after discovering worms.
Bring a fresh fecal sample so the vet can examine it under a microscope. This helps identify the type of worm and severity of infestation.
Treat for Worms
There are several effective dewormers available for cats. Your vet will prescribe the appropriate medication based on the type of worms found. Common options include:
- Fenbendazole – Treats roundworms, hookworms, whipworms
- Praziquantel – Treats tapeworms
- Pyrantel pamoate – Treats roundworms, hookworms
- Milbemycin oxime – Treats roundworms, hookworms, whipworms
Follow your vet’s instructions carefully regarding dosage and retreatments. Kittens may need multiple treatments spaced 2-3 weeks apart as their immune systems mature.
Clean the Environment
After starting medical treatment, be sure to thoroughly clean your cat’s environment to prevent reinfection and spread to other pets.
- Wash food and water bowls, beds, and toys with soap and hot water.
- Vacuum floors and carpeting to remove worm eggs.
- Disinfect litter boxes with dilute bleach.
- Wash your hands after handling cat waste or cleaning up vomit.
Here are some tips to help prevent worms from returning:
- De-worm kittens at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks old, then monthly until 6 months.
- Treat nursing mother cats to prevent spread to kittens.
- Give cats monthly heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention.
- Clean the litter box frequently.
- Keep cats indoors and away from rodents.
- Have annual fecal exams performed.
Monitor for Signs
Watch for any signs of reinfection following treatment. Symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Worm segments around anus
- Worms in vomit or stool
- Dull, dry coat
Contact your vet promptly if you notice any of these signs. Retreatment may be needed.
Worms can make cats uncomfortable, but following veterinarian recommendations for treatment, cleaning, and prevention can get the problem under control quickly. Monitor cats closely after deworming and continue prevention year-round. With some diligence, worms can be managed and your cat can stay happy and healthy.