Does my cat have worms?
Worm infections are very common in cats. Worms and their eggs are widespread in our environment (both indoor and outdoor), which makes it almost impossible to prevent contact with them. A cat can be infected with a worm infection, without visible signs on the outside. Symptoms like diarrhoea and weight loss are only seen in serious infections. Worms are also contagious to humans, especially to small children. It is therefore very important to ensure a good worm control for your cat: prevention is better than cure!
Which worms can my cat be infected with?
The following worms can be found in cats:
- Roundworms (Toxacara, Toxascaris) are the most common worms in cats. Roundworms live in the small intestines of cats. Roundworm infections are most common in kittens because the kittens ingest the infective larvae by drinking milk. Cats can also be infected by eating infected rodents or by licking/eating infected earth. Symptoms that can be seen with roundworm infections include a dull coat, lethargy, diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss, an extended belly and coughing.
Products that are effective against roundworms in cats: Banminth, Cestem, Drontal, Mansonil, Milbemax, Milpro, Panacur, Vitaminthe
- Dog tapeworms (Dipylidium) live in the small intestines of both dogs and cats. Often, the only symptoms you can see are worm segments (proglottids) around the anus of your cat. These worm segments are 0.5-1 cm long, white and look like rice grains when they’re dried. Cats become infected with the dog tapeworm by swallowing a flea (intermediate host) that is infected with larvae. It is therefore very important to ensure a good flea control in addition to the worm control in your cat.
- Fox tapeworms (Echinococcus). As the name implies, the fox tapeworm occurs especially in foxes (final host) and rodents (intermediate host). Cats can become infected by eating infected rodents, fox faeces, contaminated earth and raw meat. The fox tapeworms often don’t give a lot of problems in cats, but infected cats will spread the eggs with their faeces. The fox tapeworms are very dangerous for humans. After the ingestion of eggs, bladder worms will develop in the liver, which can cause serious problems.
- Taenia tapeworms are often only recognized in cats because of the worm segments around the anus of the cat. The intermediate host of the Taenia tapeworms are mice and rats. Cats can become infected by eating these rodents.
Products that are effective against tapeworms in cats: Cestem, Drontal, Milbemax, Milpro, Panacur, Vitaminthe
- Hookworms (Ancylostoma, Uncinaria). Ancylostoma is a hook worm that primarily occurs in southern Europe and which often gives rise to severe symptoms. Kittens are often infected by drinking infected milk from their mothers. Adult cats can become infected by eating hookworm larvae from the environment. Hookworms have a kind of beak with small teeth at one end, with which they hook themselves into the wall of the small intestines. They cause symptoms like bloody diarrhoea, anaemia and weight loss by damaging the intestinal wall. Humans can also become infected with hookworm larvae, after which an inflammatory reaction of the skin occurs.
Products that are effective against hookworm in cats: Cestem, Drontal, Mansonil, Milbemax, Milpro, Panacur, Vitaminthe
- Lung worms
- Cats lungworm (Aelurostrongylus) is the most common type of lung worm in cats. The larvae of this worm are in snails. The infected snails are eaten by birds or rodents. A cat gets infected when it eats these animals. After the cats lungworm is ingested, it relocates to the lungs of the cat. An infection with the cats lungworm often gives few complaints. Symptoms as coughing, dyspnoea and weight loss will be seen only in serious infections.
Products that are effective against lung worms in cats: Milbemax
- Heart worms
- Heart worms (Dirofilaria) primarily occur in Southern and Eastern Europe. Although cats can become infected with heartworms, they are less susceptible to infection than dogs.
Products that are effective against heart worms in cats: Milbemax, Milpro
How often should I worm my cat?
It is recommended to worm adult cats at least four times a year (every three months). Kittens should be wormed more often, because they are often infected with worms by drinking milk. A kitten should be wormed at the age of 3, 5, 7 and 9 weeks and then every month up to an age of 6 months. When your kitten is 6 months or older, you can use the adult worming scheme. Because tapeworms are transmitted by fleas, it is recommended to give your cat a flea treatment in addition to worming.