Kinds of Worms in Cats

Some worms can be passed from Mom to kitten through nursing.

Some worms can be passed from Mom to kitten through nursing.

You've heard of deworming kittens, but what kind of worms can Kitty get? Several types of worms can affect cats. If he looks bloated, begins vomiting or has diarrhea that stinks to high heaven, there's a good chance Kitty has worms.

Roundworms

Roundworms, or ascarids, are white or brown worms about four inches long that look kind of like spaghetti and live in a cat's intestines. They're the most common internal parasite in felines. He can get them from his mom when he's nursing, if she's infected. He might have eaten a rodent that had worms or possibly the poop of an infected kitty. His stomach will bloat up, but he'll weigh less. You can see bits of the worms in his poop when you clean the litter box. If you think Kitty has a roundworm infestation, take him to the vet to confirm and to get the proper medicine.

Hookworms

Named for the hooklike appendages on their mouths, hookworms live in Kitty's small intestine. They'll attach to the wall and feed on her blood. This can lead to anemia, or low red blood cell count, which can be fatal, especially in kittens and older cats. They're only an inch long and the eggs are passed in an infected cat's feces. When they hatch, they can infect others by contact with the skin or by being eaten. Kittens can also become infected by nursing from an infected mother. Since these worms can be spread to humans, it's important that Kitty be treated immediately by her vet and kept away from people and other pets.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are long, flat worms that live in Kitty's guts. They can grow to to 28 inches in length. They have a head and multiple segments that look kind of like rice. You may see these segments stuck to his butt, or even see them wiggling around there. He can get tapeworm by ingesting a flea or (less commonly) a rodent that was infected with them. If tapeworms take up residence inside Kitty, he'll likely throw up and have diarrhea. (Some cats with tapeworm show no symptoms at all, however.) The good news is that tapeworm is easy for your vet to treat with an injection or pills. Since tapeworm suggests the presence of fleas, it's important to treat for those as well, or your cat may keep getting reinfected.

Lungworms

As the name suggests, these worms live inside Kitty's lungs. Most cats will show no signs or symptoms, but may develop a cough. Snails and slugs are common hosts for lungworms. While Kitty may not eat have eaten a slug, he can still get infested if he eats a bird or rodent that made a meal of an infected slug.

Heartworms

Heartworms live inside Kitty's heart and the arteries leading to his lungs. According to the Cat Health Guide website, 50 percent of cases are deadly. Heartworms can cause heart and lung failure. While medicines to treat heartworms are available, they are usually ineffective for cats. The primary treatment is to try to keep Kitty healthy while the worms complete their life cycle, which lasts 2 to 4 years. If Kitty begins drooling, has a rapid heartbeat or trouble breathing, or begins coughing up blood, he should visit his vet to get checked.

 

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