Worms in Cats: How to Find the Best Cat Dewormer Under $15Reading Time: 5 minutes
Worms in cats! No pet parent like to hear that their lovely kitty has a parasite infection. Unpalatable as it is, cats and worms go together like clouds and rain. Where you have one, the other is sure to follow. This isn’t about being dirty or unclean, it’s just nature.
You may find it surprising to discover how cats become infected and how many types of worms there are. It will give you a whole new perspective on why treating your cat against internal parasites is so important.
A Nasty Critter!
Just like worms in dogs, worms in cats are parasites. They need the cat to ‘host’ them to derive nutrition and multiply to produce the next generation.
Dogs and cats tend to be infected with different species of worms, each of which is fine-tuned to live in their preferred host. The different types of worms pass from one host to another by a variety of routes.
For example, some cats pick up an infection by contact with worm eggs present in feces and stools. Other worms are transmitted by fleas, whilst others by are spread by biting mosquitoes or even pass via the mother’s milk to the kittens.
We can broadly think of worms as being divided into two groups: Intestinal and non-intestinal, with further subdivision within these bands.
Intestinal Vs Non-Intestinal Worms in Cats!
Just as there are lots of dog breeds, so there are lots of types of worms. These tend to be grouped according to where they set up home, such as in the gut or elsewhere in the body. Let’s find out more.
As the name suggests, these intestinal parasites live within the gut. However, they often have complex life cycles with worm larvae migrating through other body tissues, such as the lungs, causing a range of symptoms. So although adult intestinal worms live in the gut, the problems can spread beyond this.
The intestinal worms are sub-divided into groups that include roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. But what these unpleasant critters have in common is they’re liable to give Kitty stomach ache and are a drain on her health.
Intestinal worms are unpleasant, but non-intestinal worms can be downright dangerous. The likes of heartworm (Dirofilaria), French lungworm (Angiostrongylus), and eyeworms (Thelazia) are counted amongst these bad boys.
These non-intestinal worms have some unusual ways of spreading from host to host. Often this involves an intermediate host such as a mosquito, to bite and feed, spreading infection as they go.
There are Many types of Worms In Cats!
There’s nothing quite like getting up close and personal to appreciate how tenacious worms can be. Here are some of the most common worms infestations and the problems they pose.
These are probably more familiar to you under the common name of roundworms in cats. These are the long, white, spaghetti like worms that are often present in kittens.
Toxocara can infect cats through a wide range of routes. Kittens are especially vulnerable because the mother cat may pass larvae in her milk, where they mature in the kitten’s gut. Other sources of infection include eating uncooked meat (especially of prey animals such as rodents), eggs in feces (hence a dirty litter box can spread infection) and even by grooming eggs off the coat.
Tapeworms in Cats
The poster boy species for tapeworms are Taenia, Dipylidium, and Echinococcus. These worms get their general names because they are flat (and more tape-like than roundworms), with a segmented body.
Tapeworms are consummate hitch-hikers and use intermediate hosts to travel from cat to cat. The classic example is Taenia species, which infect fleas. Then when the cat grooms and swallows an infected flea, she becomes infected herself.
Hookworms in Cats
The family album of hookworms includes Ancylostoma and Uncinaria species.
As the name suggests, these worms have a sharp hook, with which they embed themselves in the gut wall. This damages the gut wall, causing bleeding which can lead to anemia.
Heartworm in Cats
They don’t get much meaner than Dirofilaria, the heartworm. This potentially life-threatening infection is spread by biting mosquitoes.
Heartworm disease in cats takes a subtly different course than in dogs. And yes, cats seem more resistant to heartworm infection than their canine cousins, but this doesn’t mean it can be disregarded. When infection does happen in felines it’s very serious and much more difficult to treat.
Why are Cat Worms Dangerous?
Worms in cats are bad company. The worms don’t look after their hosts and cause damage. This may be traumatizing the gut wall (hookworm), blocking the heart (heartworm), and robbing the cat of nutrition (pretty much all intestinal worms.)
In addition, a big knot of roundworms can literally block the gut causing a life-threatening obstruction.
But more than this, worms cause poor-doing and ill-thrift. They absorb nutrition from the gut and prevent kittens growing. They also cause stomach upsets and unpleasant diarrhea, so these are really the sort of house guests you really don’t want at home.
Can Humans Contract Parasites from Cats?
Sadly, yes they can although it is much rarer than in dogs.
The condition known as visceral larval migrans (VLM) refers to when roundworm larvae migrate through body tissues. In rare cases, cat roundworms infect people (children are particularly at risk) and the larvae migrate.
There is one recorded case of cat roundworm VLM causing blindness in one eye of a child…but this is one case too many. A combination of regular worming and good personal hygiene is essential.
From Diarrhea to Weight Loss: Here Are Some Symptoms of Worms in Cats
The signs of parasitism are often vague.
Heading the list of signs in kittens is a pot belly. Kittens are small, so even a few worms in the gut causes distension of the belly. The kitten also tends to have a dry, stary coat as the worms rob them of vital vitamins and nutrients essential to good health. Left untreated these kittens are often have diarrhea, stunted growth, and may suffer a fatal bowel obstruction.
In adult cats, intestinal worms are likely to cause diarrhea and sometimes bad breath. Again, they tend to drag down the cat’s overall good health, taking the gloss from the coat.
For heavy worms infestations the cat may have a big belly but be skinny over the ribs and backbone.
Tapeworm in cats can sometimes be identified by the egg packets stuck to the cat’s fur near the anus. These packets look like sesame seeds or shriveled rice grains.
The more serious worms, such as heartworm infection, may show few symptoms. Indeed, apart from an occasional cough, the only sign may be sudden death!
All of which means prevention is better than cure. But with the symptoms so vague, this means routine deworming and use of preventatives is the best option for the cat.
Worm Infestation Could Mean Stinky Breath
Last but not least, worms are one potential cause of bad breath in cats. If you’ve dewormed your fur-friend and their breath still smells, then think about using an oral hygiene product from Vets Preferred. It is very important to take your cat to a veterinarian should you suspect any worm infestation!
Cat Dewormer! Here’s How Veterinarians Treat Worms in Cats
It takes different dewormers to kill different types of worms.
If the vet has a strong idea what sort of worm is present, they will plumb straight for the most effective deworming option. Other times they vet will prescribe a broad-spectrum wormer that will catch all the common species.
Be warned, many pet store wormers are not broad spectrum. This can mean you assume the cat is ‘clean’ but in fact certain worm species still lurk within. If you think your cat has worms, it’s best to get the advice of a vet as to which product to use.
Under some circumstances vets will analyze a stool sample, to check for worm eggs. This helps identify what species are present and therefore which is the best medication to use.
Best Cat Dewormer Under $15
There are many cat dewormers on the market, but as a pet parent, it’s your job to talk to your vet about what’s the best cat dewormer! Cat dewormers may either be broad-spectrum or may only target one or two species of worms.
For example, Tapeworms are quite a common cestode parasite seen in cats. Unfortunately, the only definitive way of diagnosing tapeworms in cats is if you see tapeworm segments in a cat’s feces. This is why pet owners with kittens should consider using Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer for cats that are above 6 weeks of age!
So, How Often Do I Deworm My Cat?
Believe it or not, even indoor cats should be wormed at least once every three months.
In addition, once a year the vet will examine a fecal sample to check to see if any unusual species are present that regular deworming didn’t kill.
But more than this, the outdoor hunting cat should be wormed once a month. These cats are particularly at risk of tapeworm, and so an appropriate dewormer used.
And last but not least, there’s heartworm. Using a monthly preventative is the best way to protect your fur friend.
5 Ways to How To Get Rid of Worms in Cats
Prevention is better than cure, so here are 5 ways to dodge those undesirable wrigglers.
- Deflea the Cat: Fleas carry tapeworms. When the cat grooms and swallows a flea, they become infected with tapeworm. But keep the cat de-flea and this is one less thing to worry about.
- Clean the Litter Box: Worm eggs in feces are a potential source of infection for other cats in the house.
- Stop the Cat Hunting: Vermin, especially rodents, often have worm eggs encysted in their muscles. Prevent the cat hunting and eating prey, to reduce worm infections.
- Cook Meat: Some raw meat can harbor worm eggs and be a potential source of infection, so consider cooking all meat thoroughly before feeding
- Use a Dewormer: Once wormed, there’s nothing to stop the cat picking up more worms. Therefore deworm regularly to keep things under control
All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase CertaPet.com may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.