What are the signs and symptoms that a cat has worms?

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Cats with worms may have a multitude of symptoms or none at all. Common signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss or an unthrifty coat. Worms may be observed in the vomitus or in the feces. Intestinal parasites of cats can infect humans and small children are at particular risk. Young kittens should have fecal (stool) exams performed by your veterinarian starting no latter than 4 weeks of age and at every visit for vaccines. Older cats should have routine fecal checks every 6 months or every 3 months if they go outside. It's always a great idea to have a prepared list of questions to ask at every veterinary visit.

If a cat has tapeworms, the signs will not usually show until it starts to expel little white, or off-white, bits that will be seen near the cat's anus. The bits are about the size of a sesame seed and look similar as they dry up. Tapeworms are picked up by cats from infected fleas which they may have gotten from wild kills off of birds, mice and other animals. Tapeworms are easily treated by an over-the-counter medication at a good vet supply store. Treatment is handled in one dosage.

Signs of other types of worms in cats (such as pinworms etc.) are more difficult to determine without a microscopic examination of a stool sample, HOWEVER- symptoms include weight loss, unending appetite (to eventual loss of appetite if worm infestation begins to make the animal deathly ill) as well as dull coat and seepage at the inner corners of the eyes. The most effective over-the-counter remedies are the liquid, NOT tablet, wormers available in the pet section of most stores (even the local grocery) and require a 2 dose treatment over 10 day period. Cleaning and sanitizing the litter-box during this period is recommended after each treatment to help prevent any reinfestation.

WHEN IN DOUBT, CONTACT A VET!
Sometimes it's difficult to see if they have worms and you should deworm your cat a couple times of year. Phone your local vet and they will tell you and then get the worm capsules from them as they know the correct dose for the weight of your cat.
 How cats can get worms Tape worms - the ones that look like little bits of rice-are caused by fleas. They only have to swallow one flea to get tape worms, you must get a prescription from a vet to get rid of them. The dewormers at the store never work. Most other worms are contracted by the cat actually consuming the eggs - from feces (that they stepped in and licked off their paws). OTC dewormers will not work on tapeworms. If your cat eats rodents or has fleas, they will end up with tapeworm. You can get a pill from the vet that will dissolve the protective coating off the tapeworm and allow the cats stomach to digest it.

Tape Worms are by far the most common internal parasite encountered. The scientific name for the Tapeworm is called Dipylidium.
  • Symptoms - In spite of their prevalence Tapeworms are not a significant cause of disease in dogs and cats. Most pets do not have any symptoms, and if symptoms are present, are mild in nature. Some pets will itch at their anus when the worms cause irritation as they pass.



Hookworms are blood sucking parasites that live in the small intestine. The scientific name for the Hookworm we encounter in our area is called Ancylostoma. They can be very pathogenic and even cause death due to anemia and low protein level
  • Symptoms - Pets with Hookworms have the potential to be very ill, especially in dogs. Symptoms include lethargy, dark stools or diarrhea, weakness and vomiting. In severe cases they are anemic and debilitated, especially the older and younger pets. The larvae might even irritate the skin when they penetrate between the toes and pads.



Roundworms - A common parasite of dogs and cats, especially puppies and kittens, is Roundworms. The scientific name for their group is called ascarids. Routine treatment for puppies and kittens for this parasite, the first is their prevalence, the second is their potential to infest humans. The larval form of this parasite has the potential to cause serious disease in children. Fortunately it is a rare problem, and can be prevented by worming all puppies and kittens early in life
  • Symptoms - Common symptoms are a distended abdomen and diarrhea. Some puppies and kittens will be vomiting, lethargic and not eating well, while others will not show any symptoms. On rare occasions the parasite load can be so heavy that the intestines become obstructed. Coughing, fever, nasal discharge and even pneumonia can occur in pups that have large numbers of larvae migrating through their respiratory tract.



Whipworms - Whipworms are blood sucking parasites that live in the large intestine, usually only in dogs. They are called Whipworms because they have a slender end and a thick end, hence the appearance of a whip. The scientific name for the Whipworm we encounter in our area is called Trichuris. They can be as pathogenic as Hookworms, and also cause death due to anemia and low protein level.
  • Symptoms - Symptoms of Whipworm infestation include chronic diarrhea, anemia, and weight loss.



Coccidia = Coccidia are not technically a worm, but a protozoan parasite that infect dogs and cats primarily, but can be seen in other species.
  • Symptoms - Symptoms usually occur in young animals and include diarrhea and abdominal pain. These young animals can become severely dehydrated and the infection can be life threatening. This is especially true in pets that are stressed or have other parasites. Many pets, especially the older ones, do not show any symptoms when infected



Giardia = Giardia are also protozoal parasites that live in the small intestines. Giarida are found every where in the world, Infection rates are variable, with younger animals having a higher rate of infection. There are various strains that differ in their potential to cause disease. The strain called Giarda lamblis (also called intestinalis or duodenalis) is the primary strain of people, companion animals. and livestock.
This parasite can be found on fecal exams of healthy pets that don't have any symptoms. It is probably under diagnosed due to the chronic nature of the problem it presents and the difficulty of coming up with a positive diagnosis.
Giardia exists in 2 forms; trophozoites and cysts. The active and motile form, called trophozoites, are the stage which lives in the intestines of an affected mammal. These trophozoites produce non-motile cysts which are shed into the environment. The cysts remain viable in the environment for months, especially in cool and moist areas. They thrive in clear and cool water, a good reason not to drink running water in the outdoors, no matter how pristine it looks. The cysts are killed by freezing, boiling, and extended contact with disinfectants.
It is theorized that giardia make pets prone to food allergies. By interfering with the intestinal lining they let in proteins that stimulate the immune system to cause an allergic reaction.
  • Symptoms - In many pets there aren't any symptoms, while in others that do show symptoms, the problem might resolve by itself. The most susceptible pets are puppies and kittens, pets with other internal parasites, and debilitated pets. Diarrhea that occurs can be severe and can be accompanied by poor appetite and dehydration. Vomiting, weight loss and blood in the stool are occasional symptoms.



It can be a couple of types of worms and it's best to get your vet to give you worm capsules for your cat. Any pet you own should have a physical every year and all their shots.
  • There are several ways to get rid of worms. You can go to any department store that has a pet department, or pet store, or even online and get a de-wormer. Keep in mind these OTC medications are not as strong as RX meds. with that in mind here are a few natural remedies. Diatomaceous Earth : Diatomaceous earth is made of fossilized algae, which is mined and then refined into what we call food grade or medical grade diatomite. These finer grade diatomites are what we use to de-worm pets and people alike. For human worm control, one heaping teaspoon of diatomaceous earth a day is recommended. For cats, 1 teaspoon, and for dogs 1 tablespoon--give or take a half tsp./tbsp. for young or large animals. Para-Gone: Para-Gone Worm Treatment is an herbal supplement de-wormer used by people who refuse to give their animals and pets chemical formulas. Wrm Clear: formulated to control hookworm, roundworm, and tapeworm in dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens. It is FDA approved and 100% natural. It can be found online for about $12. Wormwood Tincture:often the active ingredient in many natural de-worming formulas. If you're going to use wormwood tincture alone, you should promote a month-long treatment regiment so you make certain that no worm reinfestation occurs--this is particularly true when it comes to roundworm.
  • Ounce of prevention.... wear shoes, since worms like fecal matter its best to not get any on you and wash your hands often especially around kids. ( kids usually don't care where they play and what not )and try not to use other peoples towels . flea control helps with tape worms The process starts when tapeworm eggs are swallowed by flea larvae (an immature stage of the flea). Contact between flea larvae and tapeworm eggs is thought to occur most frequently in contaminated bedding or carpet. A pet become infected they try to bite the fleas off and swallows an infected flea. so , tread the house ,carpets,bedding and yard for fleas. Nylar or Methoprene (growth regulator's )are two chemicals that are popular in controlling fleas.
 Is it normal for the outside of a cat's anus to have little 'things' on it and not seem perfectly clean?
  • Well, this depends. Usually a cat will have a little bit of dried feces around the opening -which is dark and usually hard. If what you see is white/beige and looks like small rice grains, then kitty has tapeworms. There are different medications for the various types of worms so be sure to familiarize yourself with the symptoms. You can buy some of them at good pet shops and others at the vet.
  • As the person above me states, there will be a small amount of fecal matter around the anal exit, it will be dry and brown or black, most of the time it will cause discomfort if you try to remove it, so you're best of just leaving it be. Also true on the fact that if there are specks outward more and they appear to be small grains of rice it could be worms and you need to have your pet seen.
  • If it seems like the cat is having diarrhea or another condition and there is a large amount of fecal matter around the anus, think about any changes in your cats diet or surroundings that might have caused an upset tummy.
  • Always remember that cats are generally clean animals and if they seem to be lacking in this area there could be issues going on that have nothing to do with what you see is wrong. You are the best judge of your pet and if it doesn't seem right get him seen ASAP!
  • If it seems to get worse and it doesn't look to just be feces, then yes take it to the vet. But keep in mind cats can't wipe themselves, and some just don't like there behinds either, my cats anus isn't always clean either.
  • If your cat has worms you may be seeing the eggs and shedding worm bodies around the anus. This is more likely if your cat is licking its bum more than usual, or dragging its bottom along the floor to rub it
  • This is NOT normal. This could be worms, which can be very dangerous to a cat. Visit the vet immediately and ask what he/she thinks you should do. Usually patients like this start worming programs.
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