If you spied a little worm hanging around Tabby's litter box, no doubt you're wondering what it means for both of you. As a rule, cat diseases stick to cats and human diseases stick to humans. However, there are a few worms Tabby can share with you.
Most Common Worms in Cats
Tabby's prone to a variety of parasites, including worms. One of the more common ones is roundworms, which can grow up to four inches long. Hookworms live in her intestine and can cause anemia from feeding on her blood. Other worms to be on the lookout for include tapeworms and lungworms.
How Did Tabby Get Worms?
Of course, Tabby didn't want those worms; she was just outside, minding her own business, doing what she does. If she enjoys scratching around in the dirt, she may have picked up the larvae from the infected poo of a neighborhood cat. Her great hunting skills may keep mice at bay, but they also put her at risk if she eats infected prey. If she's a nursing mother, she can pass them along to her kittens through her milk. Signs of worms include diarrhea or bloody stool, vomiting, bloating or constipation. Sometimes worm segments will show up in the litter box.
From Tabby to You
Though she wouldn't want to infect her favorite person, Tabby may unintentionally share her worms with you. Children in particular are at risk for roundworm infection, especially if they play outside in areas where cats may poo. Infection is as easy as a finger in a mouth before washing up after a day of play. Hookworm can be shared the same way. Tabby is much more likely to pick up a tapeworm infection than you are because it's contracted by ingesting an infected flea.
Preventing Worms in Everyone
If you suspect Tabby has worms, take her to the vet for treatment. The vet can recommend preventives to keep the nasty things away from both of you. Otherwise, prevention is as simple as basic good hygiene. Regular litter box cleaning, and washing your hands afterwards, will minimize the chance you get to know her worms. Keeping Tabby inside will help too because she won't be able to interact with other infected cats or prey.
- WebMD: Worms in Cats: An Infection of Intestinal Parasites
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Roundworm Infection in Cats
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Zoonotic Disease: What Can I Catch From My Cat?
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Hookworm Infection in Cats
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Tapeworm Infection in Cats
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images