The great Australian backyard has long been the domain of the Australian cat hunting its prey… but regrettably, this makes them the target of another hunter – the parasitic worm. Cats can contract parasitic worms from worm eggs in soil or from infected prey animals such as mice, rats, even insects and snails. Feral cats will invariably also be carriers of worms and should your cat come into contact with them, infection is likely.

Got a cat that is never allowed outside? Chances of it getting worms is small… unless they are brought in by invading mice!

All about Cat Worms
Worms live the cat’s intestines and feed either on the intestinal wall’s rich blood supply or on undigested food. Eggs are passed out through faces where they become a source of invitation for other cats, or reinfestation by the original cat.

Some species of worm larvae will even pass through a queen’s milk to her kittens with the result being her kittens will start life undernourished and failing to thrive thus. Newborn kittens cannot be treated for worms, thus its important breeding cats be kept free of worms prior to pregnancy. Kittens can be treated for worms from three weeks of age.

Avoiding and Treating Feline Worm Infestations.

  • Cleanliness. Kitty litter must be changed daily. Domestic cats should be kept away from strays and rodents.
  • Avoidance. Though the yard is often a place of great joy for your cat… it’s the yard where they get worms. An indoor cat will be unlikely to ever be infected, whereas an outdoor cat invariably will be at some point.
  • Treatment. Either regular general worming treatment or if you prefer, closely watch your cat for signs of infection and does them when they show symptoms. You can also take your cat to the vet to get the type of worm identified if you would prefer to instead give them a dose just for the one type of worms. On that note:-

Types of Worms that Infect Cats

Heart Worms
More often thought of as a worm that affects dogs they also can infect cats. They are carried by mosquitoes who infect hosts after first biting an already infected host. Symptoms include general malaise, vomiting, coughing and asthma-like symptoms. Some cats can be asymptomatic right up until shortly before the worms cause their death. Heartworms take 6 months to grow from larvae stage to adult worm and can live for several years… so an infected cat that is reinfected in the following(or continuing) mosquito season can become more greatly infected as the new worms achieve adulthood whilst the older worms remain.

Prevention is better than cure, preventing the larvae grow into adulthood is much safer for the cat that trying to treat it for long worms lodged in its heart that could cause blood vessel blockages. See your Vet for an appropriate preventative treatment plan – we won’t detail it here as the recommended treatments regularly change.

Roundworms
Also known as ascarids, roundworms is their more commonly used name. They grow into thick, white worm up to 10cm in length that leaves in a cat’s large intensive. Infestation most often occurs through catching infected rodents.

Typical symptoms will be weight loss and loss of condition in a cat that is eating well, in addition to the possibility of a potbelly.

Hookworms
Common in Australia, they thrive in warm weather. An infected cat can lose so much blood through their faeces that the result is their death. Look for extreme weakness, anaemia, diarrhoea and blood specked faeces.

Whipworms and Threadworms
These tiny worms can cause serious problems for your cat, though they are less serious than the previous worms. Expect your cat to lose condition, weight, fur quality and suffer from diarrhoea.

Tapeworms
Are carried by fleas and lice. The cat is not infected when these animals bite your cat, instead, the worm larvae are excreted by these parasites onto your cat’s skin where they will be ingested during self-grooming. Segments of tapeworms which will appear like rice will be visible in your cat’s faeces. They are not a serious health problem for your cat unless the infestation is very established.