Worming your cat

There are many parasitic worms that can infect cats, including roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm and whipworm. These worms live in your cat's intestine and may cause weight loss, sickness and diarrhoea. Kittens may be in poor condition with a "pot belly".

Remember, regular prevention is better than cure.

How often should I treat?

For kittens we recommend treating for roundworms every 2 weeks from birth until 12 weeks old.

Adult cats should be treated every 3 months, or more frequently if they are hunters.

TapewormHow does my cat get infected with worms?

Kittens can become infected with roundworms through their mother's milk.

Many types of parasitic worm eggs are passed in cat faeces, then are swallowed accidentally when a cat cleans it's paws after digging in soil or cat litter.

Tapeworms are not passed directly between cats, but require an intermediate host. This can be a small mammal, such as a mouse or vole, or fleas. The lifecycle is completed when a cat eats an intermediate host.

 Can these worms be passed on to my family?

TapewormsAlthough it is unlikely that you or your family will catch worms from your pet, it is possible for people to be infected by roundworms, or Toxocara. Roundworm eggs are passed in cat faeces and can persist in soil or sand, sometimes for years. Small children are most at risk from infection, which occurs when eggs are accidentally swallowed. The eggs then hatch into larvae which can move through body tissues causing damage, notably to the eyes.

There is also a risk, particularly to expectant mums, from another parasite called Toxoplasma, which can be present in cat faeces.

To prevent human infection it's important to:

  • Worm your cat regularly.
  • Empty and clean your cat's litter tray frequently, observing careful hygiene. Pregnant women should be particularly careful - if possible another family member should do this.
  • Cover children's sandpits to avoid contamination with cat faeces.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after gardening, especially if cats use the area for toileting
  • Ensure that all family members wash their hands thoroughly with soap and running water after playing in parks, gardens, sandpits or on the beach, and especially before eating. Rub-on hand sanitisers won't kill roundworm eggs so do not rely on these.
  • Teach young children not to put dirty hands to their mouths or faces

Which wormer?

There is a huge choice when it comes to worming products, however many do not treat all of the different types of worms. We recommend you choose a broad spectrum worming product supplied by us, so you can be assured that it will be effective. We have tablet, liquid, granule and spot-on preparations available. Giving the right dose is very important, so we are happy to weigh your kitten or cat free of charge at any of our surgeries. If you are unsure, you are welcome to arrange a free nurse consultation to review your cat's parasite control needs, or call or email your query to us. 

Flea prevention should also be considered, as fleas can spread tapeworm.