Your kitty hasn’t been acting like himself lately. He’s sleeping more than normal, not eating much and seems skinny. After taking him to the vet, you find out he has worms. With a little care, he’ll recover, but most worms are easily transmitted, so you’ll need to keep him isolated.
Cats can get all kinds of intestinal parasites by sharing the same litter box. These worms – roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms – get into your kitty’s system when he licks infected fecal matter off of himself while grooming or if he ever snacks from the litter box. Since it’s so easy for other kitties in your home to get the worms from your infected cat’s droppings, you’ll want to keep him away from his feline family.
If your feline friend is still young, he could have worms from his mama. Nursing mothers pass some types of parasites to their tiny furballs through milk. You may have no clue he’s infected until he starts showing symptoms months later. If you adopted a couple kittens from the same litter, odds are they are both infected. Loose stools, blood in the litter box, a drop in weight, vomiting and trouble breathing are just some of the signs of intestinal parasites.
Ringworm isn’t actually a worm; it’s a highly contagious skin fungal infection. If your cuddly pal is scratching nonstop and has dry, flaky skin, he might have ringworm. Ringworm breakouts usually happen on the head, ears and front paws, although they can affect his whole body. You’ll see bright red lesions in the center of bald spots on his skin. It’s very important to segregate your kitty if you suspect a ringworm infection. Not only can the fungus spread to the rest of your fur family very quickly, it can also spread to you. Wear gloves when handling him and get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Heartworm isn’t transmitted between felines; rather your precious chum gets the parasite through a bite from an infected mosquito. A continuous cough, wheezing and depression are signals your purring companion may have heartworms. These worms nestle in to his heart, arteries and lungs, eventually leading to lung disease in extreme cases. Your vet should be able to get a heartworm diagnosis through blood tests, although there isn’t a cure for this type of parasite. Fortunately, most healthy kitties fight off the bug all by themselves. You probably don’t need to keep him separated if he has heartworm, but your vet may suggest you provide him with his own space so his body can recover.
Always check with your veterinarian to see if you need to keep your four-legged pal isolated and for how long. If you have to keep your cat segregated, he’ll need his own litter box and food and water bowls. After he’s all better, you’ll need to clean out the room thoroughly. Wash the sheets and blankets on the bed, vacuum every corner and scrub the litter pan and bowls with hot water. This way you’ll remove any parasites – or fungus -- that might be lurking around so your other feline friends don't get sick when they're allowed to wander back into that room.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.