What You Need To Know About Roundworms In Cats

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roundworm in cats

If you’re worried about your cat getting a parasite, you’ve probably heard about roundworms.

Roundworm is one of the most common parasitic infections your cat can get, but luckily it’s easy to treat and easy to prevent.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Bernadine Cruz, a veterinarian with Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in California, to find out everything you need to know about roundworms in cats.

What are roundworms in cats?


Roundworms are intestinal parasites your cat can contract.

“Roundworms reside in the intestinal tract of kittens,” Dr. Cruz told The Dodo. “They are creamy white in color and can be up to 12 centimeters in length.”

Roundworms swim around in your cat’s intestines. They don’t typically cause major problems for adult cats, but roundworm infections are much more serious in kittens or senior cats with other health issues.

“Roundworms can be fatal depending on the age and general condition of the kitten,” Dr. Cruz said.

Are there roundworms in my cat’s poop?


Roundworm eggs will end up in your cat’s poop if he’s infected, but you won’t always be able to see them yourself.

“Roundworms may be seen in vomit or stool,” Dr. Cruz said. “Depending on the stage of development of the worm [and] age of the kitten, you may not grossly see the worms.”

Since you won’t always be able to spot roundworms in your cat’s poop on your own, your vet may have to inspect your pet’s poop to determine whether or not he’s infected.

“It is best to take a fresh stool sample to a veterinarian for testing,” Dr. Cruz said.

Sometimes, you might need to have your cat’s poop tested a couple times before receiving a positive diagnosis.

“It may be necessary to do it more than once because eggs are not shed at a constant rate,” Dr. Cruz said.

How do cats get roundworms?


There are a few different ways cats can get roundworms.

The most common way a roundworm infection is transmitted is through nursing. If a mother cat has roundworms, she might pass the larvae to her kittens from the milk in her mammary glands.

Kittens can also get roundworms while their mom is pregnant with them, since the worms can pass through the placenta.

“Roundworms can be acquired through transplacental transmission,” Dr. Cruz said.

Another way roundworm transmission happens is when cats ingest roundworm eggs. These come from the poop of an infected cat or a secondary host, like cockroaches, birds and earthworms.

Can humans get roundworms from cats?


Humans can actually get roundworms from cats.

This happens when a person ingests roundworm eggs. These eggs often come from soil where an infected cat has pooped.

And when they hatch, the roundworm larvae travel through the person’s system to affect other parts of their body.

“The condition known as visceral larvae migrans can occur in people,” Dr. Cruz said. “The larvae penetrates through the intestinal tract and migrates to organs such as the liver, heart or central nervous system.”

That’s why maintaining good personal hygiene and cleaning up after your pets are the best ways to avoid getting roundworms from your cat.

What do roundworm symptoms look like in cats?


If cats are infected with a lot of roundworms, they might show symptoms like:

  • Coughing
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Intestinal cramping
  • Vomiting

However, cats might not show any symptoms at all if there aren’t a ton of roundworms in their system.

What’s the best roundworm treatment for cats?


The best roundworm treatment is typically deworming medication.

“The most efficacious medication will be prescribed by a veterinarian,” Dr. Cruz said. “It is not recommended to use over-the-counter (OTC) deworming medications.”

Interceptor is a prescription chewable dewormer for dogs and cats that protects your pet from roundworms. It also helps with hookworms and whipworms, and can even help prevent heartworm disease.

Interceptor is available for cats in the following weight ranges:

Regular deworming is important for preventing roundworms in uninfected cats.

So whether your cat currently has a roundworm infection, or you just want to make sure he never gets one in the first place, now you know how to keep him safe.

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