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How Do Cats Get Worms?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

While some people might think that not all cats get worms, the opposite is true. No matter the age, the fact that they live indoors or outdoors, wild or domestic, loved or not, all cats get worms.

There are several types of worms that can affect cats and though they might show different symptoms, they all show some type of symptoms. So if your cat shows any signs, it might be a good idea to take her to a vet, get a corect diagnostic and the right treatment.

But you might wonder how do cats get worms, especially the ones living indoors and never taking contact with the outside world.

How Cats Get Worms

Firstly, cats who live outside and hunt are more exposed to getting worms by either eating rodents or chewing on insects or being bitten by ticks and mosquitoes that can carry such parasites. Mice for example, they can carry roundworm eggs. When those eggs reach the stomach of a cat, they can develop into full length roundworms.

Then there’s the danger of worms and parasites transmitting from cat to cat if they share their litter or the food and water bowls. And that’s also dangerous to humans as well, because an infected cat can also transmit some of the worms and parasites to its owners.

The last thing most of us are thinking on this matter is the contamination with worm eggs that we can bring in from outside, even if your cat doesn’t go outdoors. Worm eggs are microscopic, can be dormant for even a few months and they hang on our clothes easily, so bringing them inside our homes is unavoidable. We can lower the chances by cleaning our shoes before entering the house.

Common Types of Worms

One of the most common parasites that infect cats is the roundworm, also known as Toxascaris leonine or Toxocara cati. They can reach between 2 and 4 inches, their color is a light tan or white, and a cat can get them by eating other animals or insects that are a host to these worms, such as birds, rodents, earthworms or roaches.

The tapeworms, or Dipylidium caninum, are another type of worm that can find their way inside a cat. How cats get them is through fleas, which are common hosts for their larvae and eggs. If the cat licks her flea bites and she ends up swallowing a tapeworm carrying flea, then the worm will attach to the cat’s intestines and develop, growing up to several inches in length.

Hookworms, or Ancylostoma braziliense, are the third most common worm type, one not visible with human eye unlike the others above. They are transmitted through the stool of an infected animal, simply if the cat steps into it. Once inside the cat, they feed on the blood, which can cause anemia and further death.

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