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Worms in cats are known to cause serious health problems, both in cats and in people. In the UK, 4.8 million households include a cat, and 1,480,000 of these include children (PFMA, 2019). 23% of cats in the UK are not wormed (PDSA PAW Report, 2018), meaning the cat, their owners and their families are all potentially at risk from worms.
Fortunately, keeping your cat and your family worm-free is easy:
Cats can get infested with worms at any age, even as very young kittens. The most common ways an adult cat may become infested with worms are:
All kittens are likely to become infested with worms via their mother’s milk. Healthy adult cats have a strong immune response, and so worms are often diverted to the muscles where they form dormant, harmless cysts. Pregnancy reduces the effectiveness of the mother’s immune system, which allows the worm larvae to be released from the cysts. They are then passed to the kittens during nursing.
Stopping your cat from getting worms is near impossible. But, it is easy to help reduce the risk and spread of worms:
Clean your cat’s litter trays and pick up faeces from outdoor areas
Worm eggs need to ‘mature’ for up to two weeks before they become infective. Emptying your cat’s litter tray and picking up any faeces from the garden should be done immediately. This reduces the amount of worm eggs in the environment, thus reducing the risk to pets and people.
Wash your hands after handling faeces
This good hygiene practice minimises the spread of bacteria. It also reduces the chance of you and others from picking up worms from your cat or worm eggs from the environment.
Adopt a regular worming routine for your cat
This is the easiest way to stop your cat from getting worms. Missing a worming treatment or failing to worm your cat at all can result in a worm infestation and related health problems. It also increases the risk of infestation to other people and their pets .
Adult cats should be wormed at least once every three months. Fortunately, protecting your cat and your family can be as easy as 1, 2, 3 . Effective and affordable wormers, such as Beaphar WORMclear®, ,are available without prescription from your local pet shop and online.
Nursing queens and kittens should be wormed more often than adult cats. It is recommended that worming takes place every two weeks until the kittens are 12 weeks old. Once the kittens are 12 weeks old and the queen is no longer nursing, they can all be wormed once every three months. As young cats are still growing and developing, some vets recommend you worm once a month between the ages of 12 weeks and 6 months. Then, you can move on to worming your cat once every three months.
You MUST check a product is suitable for both nursing queens and kittens before commencing treatment. For additional advice about worming pregnant or nursing queens, or kittens, contact your pet retailer or vet.
Check out our blog – Choosing the right wormer for your cat or dog – to help you pick the right wormer for your cat.
Your cat may benefit from being wormed more often if they hunt and eat prey. This is because some prey animals like mice and birds can carry worms. If your cat is a regular hunter, speak to your pet shop retailer or vet about whether you should consider worming more often.
The signs and symptoms of worms in cats are hard to spot. Your cat can be home to a worm infestation without you even knowing because often there are very few or no outward symptoms.
One of the most common signs of worms in cats you may notice is what appears to be grains of rice in their cat’s faeces or stuck to fur around their bottom. These ‘grains of rice’ are segments of tapeworm, and signify the presence of a worm infestation.
The most common type of tapeworms is transmitted by fleas, so worming alone will not solve the problem. You need to treat your cat with an effective flea treatment as well.
Check out our blog – Symptoms of worms in cats and dogs – to find out what other signs you should be looking out for.
Worm infestations in people are known to sometimes cause blindness. They’ve also been linked to asthma and other serious issues, especially in children. This is why worming your cat regularly is so important, even if they show no outward symptoms of worms.