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Deworming Your Cat: Causes, Treatments, Prevention and Tips

Throughout your cat’s life, he is at risk to contract various types of parasites. Some of the intestinal parasites that can infect your cat are called worms and they can drastically affect your cat’s health. If left untreated, they can become a very serious issue.

Cats tend to hide pain or illness for survival reasons, so it’s important to look for the subtle signs that may indicate something is wrong. NOTE: some of the worms your cat are susceptible to are zoonotic, which means they can be transmitted between species and can affect humans.

The Most Common Parasites: What You Should Know

The most common types of worms that can affect your cat are divided into three types; Roundworms, Hookworms and Tape worms. Each of these internal parasite have their own characteristics, but they all share one thing in common; they are bad new for you pet.


Round WormRoundworms are the most common intestinal parasite found in cats. Adult roundworms resemble strands of spaghetti and can reach up to six inches long. They swim freely in the intestines and can be life-threatening in kittens and frail, elderly cats.

How Roundworm Infection Occurs

A nursing kitten can contract roundworms from his mother’s milk. The larvae are present in the mammary glands of an infected mother and are passed to the kitten when he suckles. Adult cats and kittens can become infected by ingesting the feces of an infected cat or by ingesting the tissue of an infected host, such as a rodent.

How It Is Diagnosed

A roundworm infection is diagnosed by applying a special solution to a small sample of the cat’s stool. The solution allows the eggs to rise to the surface. The mixture is then applied to a slide and observed under a microscope where the eggs can be seen and identified.


Luckily, treatment is relatively simple. With an oral dose of an anthelmintic, or “dewormer”, the adult roundworms are killed and passed in the stool. Anthelmintics can only kill the mature form of the worm. Therefore, two or three subsequent doses are administered in three week intervals. Kittens are routinely given doses of an anthelmintic during their initial vaccinations and boosters.

What To Look For

In otherwise healthy adult cats, there may be no noticeable signs of infection. Some general signs to look for are diarrhea, vomiting, or a bloated, pot-bellied appearance to the abdomen.


HookWormsHookworms are also common in cats but are more common in dogs. They are much smaller than roundworms, reaching less than an inch long. Most are about two to three millimeters in diameter. Unlike roundworms, hookworms attach themselves to the intestinal walls instead of float around freely. They feed on blood and tissue and can cause anemia in small kittens and in frail adult cats.

How Hookworm Infection Occurs

Hundreds of hookworm eggs are released in the stool of an infected cat. They hatch and the larvae can live in soil for weeks or even months. Infection most often occurs through ingestion of the eggs or larvae. Your cat can ingest the larvae by grooming his paws that have stepped in contaminated soil. The larvae can also enter your cat’s system by burrowing through the skin and making its way to the small intestines.

How It Is Diagnosed

Just like diagnosing a roundworm infection, hookworms are diagnosed by a process called fecal flotation where a small stool sample is mixed with a solution that enables the eggs to rise. The eggs can be easily identified under a microscope.


Treatment for hookworms is also similar to the treatment for roundworms. An oral anthelmintic is administered over a period of several weeks.

What To Look For

The most prominent signs of a hookworm infection are anemia, weight loss, digested blood in the stool, and a poor coat. Hair loss and skin irritation can indicate a highly infested area where larvae has burrowed into the skin.


Tape WormTapeworms are long, flat segmented worms. They vary between 4 to 24 inches in length. Like hookworms, they attach themselves to the lining of the intestines. Unlike roundworms and hookworms, tapeworms belong to a different class called cestodes. As the adult worm matures, small rice-like segments called proglottids break off the main body and are passed in stool.

How Tapeworm Infection Occurs

Your cat can become infected with tapeworms by ingesting an intermediate host, such as a flea. Humans can also be infected by tapeworms if a host flea is inadvertently ingested.

How It Is Diagnosed

A tapeworm infection is most commonly diagnosed when the cat is brought to a veterinarian with a concern about the proglottids in the cat’s feces. They can also sometimes be seen in or around the cat’s anus.


The treatment for a tapeworm infection is by way of an oral anthelmintic or injection. If your cat lives in a flea infested area, re-infection will most likely occur. By far, flea prevention is the best method for controlling tapeworms. One treatment option we recommend is CHICKEN FLAVORED Praziquantel Tapeworm Wormer Capsules for Cats (6 Capsules)

What To Look For

Your cat may show no clinical signs of a tapeworm infection. Most commonly, what raises a concern is the presence of the worm’s segments in the cat’s feces. If a tapeworm releases its attachment to the intestinal wall and migrates to the stomach, your cat may vomit an adult tapeworm.

Overall Parasite Prevention

Today there are many options when it comes to parasite prevention. It is far less stressful for your cat, and far more cost effective for you to administer a monthly medication than have to deal with an internal parasite. There are medications available through your veterinarian that protect your cat against fleas, worms, and even ear mites with just one monthly dose. Options include a monthly pill or a nontoxic substance that is applied on the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades. Talk to your veterinarian about the best option.
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