It's natural to be freaked out when you realize your kitten has worms, but it is a common perk of pet ownership. For feral cats, worms are a part of life. While this is not the case for domestic kitties, even pampered indoor kittens can pick up a few parasites.
Worms in Kittens
Most cat owners know their pet can get worms by coming into contact with the feces of other animals and by digging around in the dirt outside, but how does a baby kitten get them? While it is possible for kittens to pick up worms from their environment, especially if they were born and raised outdoors, most kittens catch worms from their mom. Some parasites are actually adapted to pass through to a host's offspring during nursing, while others jump ship from the momma cat while she grooms her babies.
So does your worm-laden kitten pose a threat to other inhabitants in the house? Unfortunately, yes. If the kitten picked up worms from her environment, then her mother probably has them too, even if she did not spread them to her babies in the first place. Other pets, and even people, can get worms from a kitten by coming into contact with feces or bodily fluids. Kittens may expel worms when they vomit if they are infected and they can pass adult parasites or eggs when they use the bathroom.
The best way to stop worms from spreading is to identify an infestation quickly. You should always look for physical evidence of worms in your baby kitten's stool, especially for the first few weeks after birth. Digging through your cat's excrement is probably not one of your favorite things to do, but it is critical for staying on top of your pet's digestive health. Kittens may become extremely lethargic or refuse to eat if they are infested. It doesn't take many worms to weaken a helpless kitten, so you should take these symptoms seriously. Worms can also bloat your cat's stomach, which is pretty obvious on baby kitties compared to adults.
There is a reason that deworming is a standard part of kitten health care. These parasites are everywhere, and the vulnerable immune system of a young kitten has a hard time fending them off. As nasty as they are, worms are rarely fatal, especially if you get your kitten to the vet at the first sign of a problem. Don't attempt to treat the condition with a home-made remedy or even a recognized worm treatment drug without talking to your vet first. Ask him what he recommends you do for a young kitten, as baby cats are more vulnerable to adverse reactions to medicines.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.