Home » Cat Health » Worms and Cats: Types, Symptoms, & Treatments

Worms and Cats: Types, Symptoms, & Treatments

Worms and Cats: Types, Symptoms, & TreatmentsWorms and cats go hand-in-hand, especially when they have access to the outdoors or live in feral cat colonies. Regular deworming should be routine for those of us who care for community cat colonies as almost all outdoor cats have worms or other parasites.

Worms and other parasites are a common occurrence for pets and free-roaming cats. If you take your pet into the vet for their annual exam, they always deworm your beloved companion every single year.

Worms can happen to even indoor-only cats, so it’s important to deworm them regularly and pay attention to their poop! Houses are not proof against rodents, insects, or other resident animals and all of those are common ways that worms are spread.

If they live with another cat, they can get parasites from ingesting fecal matter after visiting the litter box. If you own both cats and dogs, dogs who go outside often get parasites and can infect the cats that live with them.

The most common symptom of worms or other parasites in cats is NO symptoms. Do not assume just because your cat doesn’t have symptoms that they do not have worms. Most infected cats show very few symptoms if they show any at all.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This simply means I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases. Please read Affiliate Disclosure for full details. Thanks for supporting the kitties!

If you work with community cats, a vet may not always be an option. It can also be majorly traumatic for feral cats to be taken in to the vet for routine care. So I listed some well-rated pharmacies outside of the US as well. However, always consult your vet before giving your cats any medication!

Worms in Community Cats Aren't Obvious in this Gray Feral Cat

Roundworms and Hookworms: The Most Common Problems

Roundworms

Roundworms (Toxocara species) are the most common internal parasite of cats, hands down. It is estimated that 25%-75% of cats are affected, with a higher rate of infection in kittens. Roundworms are comprised of many different species. The most common cat roundworm is Toxocara cati, but cats can also be infected by Toxocara canin (dog roundworm), Toxocaris leonina (cats, dogs, and foxes), and others. Roundworms can be transmitted to other species, including humans, although they don’t reproduce in other hosts.

Adult roundworms are 3-5 inches long, cream-colored, and live inside the cat’s intestines. They do not attach to the intestinal walls. They survive by eating the digested food ingested by the host animal, such as the cat. Adult roundworms produce eggs that are passed into the feces. The eggs require several days or several weeks to hatch into the infective larva stage.

Causes

Cats get infected by Toxocara cati by ingesting the eggs in fecal matter or eating infected animals (such as earthworms, roaches, rodents, and birds) that have roundworm larva in its tissues. Kittens get infected by ingesting larva through an infected queen’s milk. Infection by Toxocaris leonina occurs in adult cats the same way, but the larva does not pass in the infected mother’s milk, so kittens under 2 months old are rarely infected by T. leonina.

In adult cats, roundworm infection is usually relatively benign. However, in kittens, it can cause serious illness or even death.

Symptoms of roundworms

  • No symptoms
  • Dull coat
  • Poor growth in kittens
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lack of appetite
  • Visible worms in vomit or feces
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Anemia
  • Stomach rupture (in extreme cases)
  • Death

Roundworms are one of two parasitic worm infections that can be seen with the naked eye. Cats may vomit up adult worms or pass them in their stool occasionally. However, it is important to note that cats can show NO symptoms as well. It is very common, actually. Reinfection of a cat after treatment is super common, too.

The ONLY way to tell for certain if your cat is infected with roundworms (outside of seeing adult worms in feces or vomit), is by a microscopic examination of the stool where eggs are detected. Keep in mind, no symptoms does not equal no infection.

Toxocara species can infect humans, as well. Though they cannot reproduce as humans aren’t their primary host, they CAN infect humans, so it is vital to ensure your indoor cat or cat colony gets treated for roundworms.

HookwormsHookworm

Hookworms (Ancylostoma species) are another common intestinal parasite that infects dogs and cats. There are two main types of common cat hookworms, although cats can become infected with the canine and other species of hookworms in rare instances.

Hookworms are long-lived parasites and can even live as long as the cat! That’s twenty years in some cases, folks!

Hookworm infestations are not as common as roundworms in cats. The rate of infection depends a lot on geographical location. In general, hookworm infections can be more prevalent in dogs than cats, but it can still be a serious condition. Hookworm infection can be fatal in young kittens.

They get their name from their hook-like mouth parts that anchor into the intestinal wall. Hookworms feed on tissue fluids and the blood of their hosts.

Causes

So how do cats get hookworms? Immature hookworms (eggs and larva) can live in the soil for months. Cats can walk or dig in contaminated soil. The larva then they burrow into the skin or are ingested by cats during grooming. Kittens can get hookworms through their mother’s milk.

Hookworms are more common in moist, warm environments. Overcrowding and poor sanitation can also contribute to infection.

Symptoms of hookworms

  • No symptoms
  • Anemia (lining of nostrils, lips, and ears will be pale)
  • Black tarry stool (which is digested blood in feces)
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Poor hair coat
  • Weight loss
  • Skin irritation, especially of the paws, can indicate a heavily infested environment as hookworm larva can burrow into and along the skin.
  • Coughing as sometimes hookworm larva get into the lungs
  • Death

Hookworm infections can be easily diagnosed with a fecal test at your veterinarian. Hookworms tend to pass a lot of eggs into the stool of cats, so it is easily detectable. Hookworms are NOT usually visible to the naked eye, so you will not see signs of worms in a cat’s poo.

Also, older cats may not show symptoms of hookworm infection while young kittens become fatally ill. If some kittens in a litter die, hookworm should always be suspected.

Feline and canine hookworms don’t usually infect humans, but they can burrow into human skin if you decide to walk barefoot over contaminated soil. However, humans have their own species-specific hookworms that can infect them, as well as zoonotic species of hookworms that can infect both cats and humans, but this type of hookworm infection is rare.

Roundworm and Hookworm Treatments:
  • Pyrental Pamoate is given once to kill adult worms. Dose again in 2 weeks. Dosage is 2.5mg/lb up to 10mg/lb of dog or cat. If you are using a 50 ml suspension, 10mg/lb is 0.2 ml.
  • Fenbendazole is also known as Panacur or Safeguard. It is not labeled for use in cats in the United States, but can be used off-label for cats. It is given once a day for 3 days for roundworm/hookworm infection in cats. Repeat in 2 weeks. Dosage is 23 mg/lb. If using 10% liquid, there is 100 mg/ml, and the dose is 0.2 ml per pound of weight.
  • Praziquantel and Pyrental for common tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms. This one is a particular favorite for caring for outdoor cats. Tapeworm and roundworm/hookworm treatment needs to be done regularly for cat colonies and one medication to do it all is VERY handy! Just mix it with food for your feral cats. It is pricey though. You can only get smaller amounts with a prescription, for some reason.
  • Profender (Rx) for topical treatment of roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.
  • Profender (non-Rx) for the topical treatment of roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. Use at own risk if ordering outside the US.
  • Antezole Paste for roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. This product is not made in the US (likely because fenbendazole is not marketed for cats in the US). Use at your own risk if ordering outside the US.

In the case of severe infestation, fluid therapy and blood transfusion may be required with hookworm infections.

There is no known preventative for roundworm or hookworm infection in cats. All medications given are to kill current infestations, not prevent reinfection. To help prevent the spread of worm infection in indoor cats, scoop and sanitize litter boxes frequently!

Dog Tapeworm Magnified

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are another common parasite that cats (and dogs and people!) can get. There are many different species of tapeworms that cats can get, but the most common is Dipylidium caninum.

Tapeworms have a long flatted body that consists of segments. These segments are filled with eggs. Its flattened appearance is what gives this nasty parasite its name! Did you know that tapeworms can measure 24 inches or longer?!

Adult tapeworms live in the small intestine with its head embedded in the mucus membrane of the intestine, where it absorbs nutrients from its host. As the segments furthest from the head mature, they break off and pass into the feces of an infected animal. These segments can be seen sometimes in the feces or around a cat’s rectum. They look like small grains of rice or dried cucumber seeds. They can and do move on their own when fresh. Yuck!

Microscopic examination of feces may not always reveal tapeworm infection as eggs are only passed in groups in these segments.

While gross, tapeworm infection rarely causes significant illness in cats.

Causes

Cats become infected with tapeworms by ingesting fleas. This can happen by grooming themselves (or each other) or by eating infected rodents. Fleas and rodents become infected with tapeworms by ingesting eggs in the environment. Luckily, cats do not contract tapeworms by ingesting tapeworm eggs.

Controlling flea and rodent infestations is vital to controlling tapeworms, as reinfection is very common otherwise!

Related Post: What is the Best Flea Treatment for Cats?

It is rare for a human to catch tapeworms from their pets, but it is possible, especially for children. It does require that a human ingest an infected flea.

Other common tapeworms that cats can get belong to the Taenia group. These tapeworms require a cat eats infected rabbits, mice, and birds to become infected. Other possible tapeworm species include Echinococcus and Mesocestoides.

Symptoms of tapeworms:
  • No symptoms
  • Visible segments in feces or around the rectum
  • Butt-dragging on the floor
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss or debilitation if infected with a very large number of tapeworms
  • Adult tapeworms can be observed in the cat’s vomit on rare occasions.
  • Adult tapeworms can be observed in the cat’s feces on rare occasions.
  • Death

Tapeworms are not regularly identified in the usual fecal exams you can get at your veterinarian like roundworms and hookworms are. They only shed their eggs grouped in segments, so that is the usual method of diagnosis.

Treatment for Tapeworms:
  • Praziquantel is used to treat the most common types of tapeworm infections. It is useful against Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis tapeworms.
  • Praziquantel and Pyrental for tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms. This one is a particular favorite for caring for outdoor cats. Tapeworm and roundworm/hookworm treatment needs to be done regularly for cat colonies and one medication to do it all is VERY handy! Just mix it with food for your feral cats. It is pricey though. You can only get smaller amounts with a prescription, for some reason
  • Profender (Rx) for topical treatment of roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.
  • Profender (non-Rx) for the topical treatment of roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. Use at own risk if ordering outside the US.
  • Antezole Paste for roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. This product is not made in the US (likely because fenbendazole is not marketed for cats in the US). Use at your own risk if ordering outside the US.

The most important part of controlling tapeworms in your cats (indoor or feral!) is to control the flea population! Flea preventative is the only way to eliminate infected fleas. Another way to help prevent tapeworms is to control the rodent population and to keep your cats indoors. Cats who are outside will hunt, and even if they are on flea medication, they will eat mice who often have fleas or tapeworms themselves.

If you take care of a colony of feral or community cats, you will not be able to control their hunting, but you can control their fleas. I highly suggest setting a bi-monthly or quarterly tapeworm deworming schedule, just to keep your beloved colony healthy.

HeartwormsHeartworms Extracted from a Dog

Contrary to popular belief, heartworms can infect cats too!

While the main host for heartworms is dogs, it can infect cats, wolves, coyotes, foxes, ferrets, bears, seals, reptiles, and even rarely, humans!

This is one especially nasty parasite, people.

Causes

Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) spread from host to host through the bites of mosquitoes. These nasty parasites don’t just infect the heart, as their name suggests, but also lung arteries. Left untreated, heartworms are fatal in its host.

This fun parasite is now pretty common throughout the entire United States (and many other countries!) when it was at first limited to the warm, Southern states.

Transmission of heartworms is limited to warmer months as development in the mosquito is halted during cooler temperatures. It takes about 6-7 months for a dog to develop adult heartworms after first being infected.

Heartworm Infection in Cats

I’m sorry to say, while heartworm disease may be cured in dogs, there is no effective treatment for cats infected with heartworms at this time. The medication used to treat heartworm infection in dogs is actually quite toxic for cats.

According to Wikipedia, the infection rate of cats is 1%-5% in the regions where heartworm disease is endemic. Both indoor and outdoor cats can be infected as mosquitoes enter homes quite easily.

Because cats are not the natural host for heartworms, most of the heartworm larva will die in cats. Cats tend to only be infected with a few heartworms (2-5 is typical), while dogs can have many. Adult heartworms don’t live as long in cats, as well. Cats are also more likely to aberrant migration of heartworm larva that results in heartworm infections in the brain or body cavities.

So what does this mean?

It means that cats get infected by an inflammatory issue called “heartworm-associated respiratory disease” and is caused by heartworm larva in lung arteries and vessels. It is also easy to misdiagnose it as asthma or bronchitis in cats. Cats are also more likely to die of obstructed arteries from dying worms than dogs are.

Symptoms of Heartworms in Cats
  • No symptoms
  • Shock
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fainting
  • Sudden Death
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise Intolerance
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty Breathing

Now, here’s some good news!

Normally, a cat’s immune response is strong enough to fight off heartworm infection! That is why so few cats actually contract heartworm disease. It isn’t because they aren’t exposed. It is because they fight off the infection in normal circumstances because they are not the natural host for heartworms!

However, the immune response itself can cause some same symptoms of heartworm disease. And even if the infection is cleared up, there may be some lingering respiratory damage.

The only way to tell if your cat has contracted heartworm disease is with a couple of blood tests. The antigen blood test is not as reliable unless female adult heartworms are present in the cat. That means if there are only adult males or only larva heartworms (which cause MANY of the symptoms cats experience), the test will show up as a negative for heartworms. The antibody blood test is more reliable at picking up antibodies to heartworms if the cat has been exposed within the past 3 or so months. X-rays and echocardiography may also detect heartworm infections in cats.

Worms and Cats at the Vet

Heartworm Treatment in Cats

There is no medication approved by the FDA to treat heartworm infection in cats. However, unlike dogs, cats don’t have an adverse reaction to heartworm preventative when infected.

So what is typically done for infected cats is to put the cat on a heartworm preventative, such as Ivermectin or Revolution, and a course of corticosteroids. The prognosis for cats infected with heartworms is guarded.

Never, ever use heartworm preventative on dogs who may be positive for heartworm disease.  It is very, very bad for the dog.

How to Prevent Heartworms

Other Worms Found in CatsLong-Haired Orange Tabby Cat Hiding His Face

Depending on where you live, there are other types of worms that our feline friends can be infected with.

Cats can get infected with whipworms, lungworms, and stomach worms. These are all much rarer than the other worms earlier in the article.

They’re still nasty, though.

Whipworms

Adult whipworms are about 1/4 of an inch long and live in the large intestines of infected cats. Whipworms can live in the environment anywhere from a few months to a few years! Their eggs can contaminate soil, food, water, feces, and animal flesh.

Symptoms of Whipworms:

  • No Symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Death

Causes

Cats usually contract whipworms by ingesting infected matter, although transmission from an infected animal is possible. Whipworm infection in cats is not usually a serious issue.

Your vet can diagnose whipworms by testing a stool sample, although you may get many negative fecal tests before finding whipworm eggs.

Treatment for Whipworms in Cats:

  • Fenbendazole is also known as Panacur or Safeguard. It is not labeled for use in cats in the United States, but can be used off-label for cats. It is given once a day for 3 days for whipworm infections in cats. This doesn’t kill larva or eggs. Treatment every 3 months to completely clear whipworm infection. Dosage is 23 mg/lb. If using 10% liquid, there is 100 mg/ml, and the dose is 0.2 ml per pound of weight.
  • Advantage Multi (Rx)
  • Advantage Multi (Non-Rx, Use at Own Risk When Purchasing Outside the US!)
  • Interceptor (Rx)
  • Interceptor (non-RX, Use at Own Risk When Purchasing Out of the US!)

Adult Human Whipworm

Stomach Worms

Stomach worms inhabit the stomach, obviously. There are two basic types: Ollanulus tricuspis and Physaloptera species that infect cats.

The most common type is Ollanulu tricuspis and it spread between cats via vomiting and ingesting infected vomit.

Symptoms of stomach worms:

  • No symptoms
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Death

The diagnosis of stomach worms relies on detecting parasitic larva in vomit. Meaning you have to take the vomit to your veterinarian to examine.

The other type of stomach worm is the Physaloptera species of parasites. These worms are quite rare, actually. These worms cause the same symptoms as O. tricuspis does. Adult female worms attach to the stomach lining. Their eggs are passed out through feces and ingested by an intermediate host, such as a cricket or roach. Cats become infected by ingesting infected insects or eating rodents who have eaten infected insects. Confusing! In any case, diagnosis requires seeing the worm in vomit or detecting eggs in stool samples. Or a vet can insert a tube and perform a gastroscopy, which is examining the lining of the stomach with a small camera.

Stomach worms do not cause disease in humans.

Treatment for Stomach Worms:

  • Pyrental Pamoate for Physaloptera spp. of stomach worms. Dose once to kill adult worms and then again in 2 weeks. Dosage is 2.5mg/lb up to 10mg/lb of dog or cat. If you are using a 50 ml suspension, 10mg/lb is 0.2 ml.
  • Fenbendazole is also known as Panacur or Safeguard. It is not labeled for use in cats in the United States, but can be used off-label for cats. It is given once a day for 3-5 days for Ollanulu tricuspis infection in cats. Dosage is 23 mg/lb. If using 10% liquid, there is 100 mg/ml, and the dose is 0.2 ml per pound of weight.

You can help prevent stomach worms by keeping your pets indoors to limit hunting and make sure they don’t eat each other’s vomit.

Lungworms

There are many different species of lungworm and they each infect different types of animals. Cats, in particular, get infected by Aelurostrongylus abstrusus or Capillaria aerophila. These fun parasites can be 1-4 cm in length and look like hair.

Causes:

Cats become infected when they ingest an infected bird or mouse or by drinking contaminated water.

Diagnosis is done by a veterinarian via chest X-ray, fecal exam, microscopic examination of respiratory fluid or a complete blood count (CBC).

Symptoms of lungworm:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Death

Treatments for lungworm:

It is important to note that lungworm infections can be a pain in the butt to treat. Their life cycle (inside the cat) means that every 7-14 days eggs could be hatching into larva, larva growing into adults, etc.

  • Corticosteroids or prednisolone for inflammation
  • Antibiotics for secondary infections such as pneumonia
  • Fenbendazole is also known as Panacur or Safeguard. It is not labeled for use in cats in the United States, but can be used off-label for cats. It is often suggested 14 days for lungworm. Dosage is 23 mg/lb. If using 10% liquid, there is 100 mg/ml, and the dose is 0.2 ml per pound of weight.
  • Praziquantel is used to treat the most common types of tapeworm infections. It is useful against Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis tapeworms. It can also be used for lungworm infections.
  • Ivermectin (non-Rx) is used primarily as a heartworm preventative, but it is useful with some internal parasites such as lungworm. (3-4 days for lungworm)
  • Ivermectin (Rx) is used primarily as a heartworm preventative, but it is useful with some internal parasites such as lungworm.
  • Profender (Rx) for topical treatment of roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. (Given in 2 doses, 2 weeks apart for lungworm)
  • Profender (non-Rx) for the topical treatment of roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. Use at own risk if ordering outside the US. (Given in 2 doses, 2 weeks apart for lungworms)
  • Revolution (Rx) (Every 2 weeks for two months for lungworm, speak to your vet before doing this!)
  • Revolution (non-Rx, Use at Own Risk When Purchasing Out of the US!) (Every 2 weeks for two months for lungworm, speak to your vet before doing this!)
  • Revolution (Large Dog non-Rx, Use at Own Risk When Purchasing Out of the US!) (Every 2 weeks for two months for lungworm, speak to your vet before doing this!)
  • Advantage Multi (Rx)
  • Advantage Multi (Non-Rx, Use at Own Risk When Purchasing Outside the US!)

Cats can NOT be infected with pinworms, which is a human parasite that children often get. Pinworm infections are not caused by your dog or cat. Pinworm infections are often easily treatable with the same active ingredient that we give cats, pyrental pamoate.

Does Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Kill Worms and Other Internal Parasites?

You may have noticed that I did not list diatomaceous earth under any treatments for worms.

No, diatomaceous earth does not kill internal parasites. There have been multiple studies on DE and not one has shown it is effective against worms.

Diatomaceous earth does work as an environmental insecticide. It apparently is not very effective for killing slugs or snails, despite the rumors. It DOES discourage slugs and snails.

But here’s the problem: DE must come into direct contact with insects and it’s not 100%.  The more you use and the longer you leave it, the better it works. It’s not hugely effective, but it DOES work.

If you pour a bunch of DE on roundworms that came out in a cat’s vomit or tapeworm segments, it will likely kill them.

No scientific evidence exists it is effective against parasites inside a host.  There are many studies that have been done on DE and livestock and most of them show little to no difference between treated and untreated livestock.

Let’s face it, there is no proof that DE has any health benefits at all for people, cats, or livestock. The only thing studies have proven is it is not toxic or harmful to ingest.

Plus, we know:

  • DE loses its effectiveness when wet or in high humidity
  • DE works by scratching the lipid layer of an exoskeleton, which causes the insect to die of dehydration.

So what happens when you ingest (or your cat ingests) DE? It gets WET. It STAYS wet. DE is not very effective wet. It has to be dry to work. Kind of impossible in your intestines.

Another important fact to consider is it takes a very long time for DE to kill insects. One dose of DE to kill internal parasites would never be effective. It would have to come into DIRECT contact with the worm or larva and it has to do so in enough quantity. That means multiple doses for a long period of time (like forever) to keep worms in check. If it worked when wet, which is does not.

Diatomaceous earth works by scratching the exoskeleton and causing dehydration. Let’s say it did work when wet, then how the heck would it cause dehydration inside the VERY wet environment of your cat’s stomach or intestines? Can’t dehydrate a parasite if it is literally living in a wet environment.

There IS a theory that actually might work regarding treating pasture of farm animals with DE to kill parasites and their larva BEFORE they infect the cows. The theory is if you treat the ground, you kill eggs and larva forms. There is not enough evidence this works though.

Don’t take my word for it, there are many studies regarding farm animals and DE. The most comprehensive list of livestock studies I’ve found can be read here.

Cute Grey Kitten

So why do people continue to use DE?

I think the reason so many people think DE works on their cats is that they seem to think no symptoms equals no worms. Unless you take the cat’s feces into the vet on multiple occasions to study parasite egg loads, you will never know for certain if the cat has worms or not. Lack of symptoms does not equal no parasites.

Another thing to consider is that natural substances are never going to work as well as formulations created specifically for a purpose. Man utilizes nature in medicine all the time. They study what exactly makes a natural product effective and then synthesize it or concentrate it. Thus medicine and chemicals (many of which come from nature!) are always going to work better than natural products.

I don’t know about you, but parasites can be dangerous to kittens and cats, and I would rather use something that is proven to be effective, not something that ‘may or may not’ be.

The only thing I use DE for is for environment flea control in the barn, and only inside the barn. Diatomaceous earth kills beneficial insects too, including honey bees and ladybugs!  So the idea of DE being natural and thus safe for the environment is a myth.  Though, that said, it stops being effective while wet so a good rain washes it away.

January Calendar for Monthly Deworming of Cats

Deworming Routines are Vital to Cat’s Health

I have a set deworming routine for my resident cats, my pets, my fosters, and my ferals. If you have pet cats, remember to speak to your veterinarian for their advice on the type of medication and how often you should give it.

The Barn Cat Lady’s Regular Deworming Routine
  • Revolution once a month, without fail. I use Revolution for fleas, mites, and heartworms. It is also effective against lungworms, roundworms, and hookworms.
    • You can order Revolution for Cats outside the US without a prescription.
    • If caring for multiple cats, consult your veterinarian about using Revolution for Dogs and measuring out the correct dose for cats to save some money.
    • As a topical, this will not work for feral cats. See my feral flea treatment recommendation here.
    • Never, EVER use heartworm preventative such as Revolution on dogs who may be infected with heartworms.
  • Pyrental Pamoate every month, without fail. Pyrental Pamoate is an easy one dose dewormer that takes care of roundworms, hookworms, and one type of stomach worms. Dosage is 2.5mg/lb up to 10mg/lb of dog or cat. If you are using a 50 ml suspension, 10mg/lb is 0.2 ml.
  • Fenbendazole every month, without fail. Also known as Panacur or Safeguard, it is not labeled for use in cats in the United States, but can be used off-label for cats. It is given once a day for 3-5 days in most cases for roundworm, hookworm, whipworms, one species of tapeworm, and one species of stomach worm. For lungworm, it needs to be continued for 14 days. Dosage is 23 mg/lb. If using 10% liquid, there is 100 mg/ml, and the dose is 0.2 ml per pound of weight.
  • Praziquantel every 3 months as I also use flea medicine! This is used to treat the most common types of tapeworm infections. It is useful against Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis tapeworms. It can also be used for lungworm infections.

For more finicky cats, these are also favorite dewormers of mine that combine ingredients:

  • Praziquantel and Pyrental for common tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, lungworms, and one species of stomach worm. This one is a particular favorite for caring for outdoor cats. Tapeworm and roundworm/hookworm treatment needs to be done regularly for cat colonies and one medication to do it all is VERY handy! Just mix it with food for your feral cats. It is pricey though. You can only get smaller amounts with a prescription, for some reason.
  • Profender (Rx) for topical treatment of roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and lungworms.
  • Profender (non-Rx) for the topical treatment of roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and lungworms. Use at own risk if ordering outside the US.
  • Antezole Paste for roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, lungworms, and one species of stomach worm. This product is not made in the US (likely because fenbendazole is not marketed for cats in the US). Use at your own risk if ordering outside the US.

If you’re a feral cat caretaker or a kitten foster, then you likely have your own worming routine and preferred medications. I would love for you to share your preferences with me below!

Lovies!

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. Please consult your veterinarian for all medical diagnoses or treatment options, when possible. This post is to be used for informational purposes only.


8 thoughts on “Worms and Cats: Types, Symptoms, & Treatments”

  1. Hello Rochelle, thanks for sharing this live-saving article that can help out cats a lot. My little girl has been a victim of hookworms on several occasions and she just doesn’t stop going around digging holes which I have noticed is the cause of the hookworm in her. I personally don’t like seeing her sick. I have made use of the Pyrental Pamoate and it’s worked really well. I will just try having it around in cases of such health issues.

    1. Hi!  Cats can get hookworms simply by walking on the ground if there are other animals defecating in the area so digging isn’t the cause of it at all, though it definitely doesn’t help if she’s digging up some other cat’s poo.  Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Indeed! Worms are really dangerous to the well-being of cats. They should be checked and also all efforts should be focused on deworming the cats. What I have read here proves that the infestation might be fatal for cats. Well, I didn’t know about all these before and I do allow my cats to go out once a while. Wow! Thanks for sharing this as I would be more careful in the future.

    1. Indoor cats too can get worms, remember.  But it’s less often than cats who go outside, definitely.  Thanks for stopping by!

  3. That’s a lot of species of worms pets can get – and I never knew half of them since I’ve always referred to them collectively as ‘worms,’ without much thought. It seems like a few of these parasites (like the tapeworm) is something that can affect people as well, as you pointed out. And the adverse effects tapeworms alone can have are scary – I’ve seen a few documentaries and it’s not something neither I nor any pet would want to deal with. They are parasites, through and through. 

    1. Thanks for visiting!  Yeah, it’s pretty scary when you see those documentaries!  Luckily, most infestations aren’t QUITE that bad, but it can still be yucky if we end up catching them from our pets if we didn’t take proper care of them!

  4. I have 3 indoor cats, so I didn’t think we had to worry so much about worms. Thanks to this article, I will be bringing them to the vet ASAP. I did not know that there were so many worms to worry about. Do you think that I need to purchase a product for worms now, or should I wait for the vet visit?

    1. Hi!  Thanks for the question.  It is always best to see a veterinarian if you have any concerns that your cats have worms.  If you take your cats into the vet every year for annual vaccinations, they often deworm your cats at that time for roundworms and hookworms.  If your cats are indoor-only, that might be all the deworming your beloved kitties need!

      However, if you have had a flea problem, I would definitely deworm for tapeworms, just in case.  As for anything else, definitely bring them into the vet if they start displaying problems such as diarrhea or you see worms.  You may need a different type of deworming medication that the usual yearly one.

      Though if it is a big concern for you, speak to your vet about deworming more often.  The veterinarian will be able to tell you what types of worms are most common in your area and how often you should deworm them.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top