Worm infestation in your cats is a scary thing so you always make it a point to visit the vet for your cat’s regular deworming medication. Having a large number of worms could even be life-threatening especially for kittens and senior cats.
How long can a cat live with worms?
So how long can a cat live with worms? Worms do not necessarily shorten the lifespan of a cat and a cat can live a full lifespan even with worms. Most cat owners won’t even notice their pet have worms if it’s just a minor infection. However, it’s another thing if they become infected with large numbers of these intestinal parasites and begin to show major symptoms like diarrhea, bloated belly, and weight loss.
The most susceptible ones are kittens and debilitated senior cats because large infestations could be life-threatening and even result in death. If you suspect that your cat is infected with worms, bring him to the vet at once so that necessary tests and treatment may be administered right away.
What are the kinds of worms commonly infest cats?
Worms are intestinal parasites that can infect cats. Outdoor cats are more prone to get them but indoor pets may also be infected if they occasionally go outside the house and especially if they hunt prey.
These are some of the common kinds of worms that can infect cats:
These are large-bodied worms that are round-shaped and averaging about 3 to 6 inches in length. These worms swim freely in a cat’s intestines instead of attaching to the intestinal walls. The common roundworm’s scientific name is Toxocara cati while the lesser one is Toxocara leonina which can also infect dogs. They’re known as ascarids and they carry the disease known as ascariasis.
This type of worms lives in a cat’s small intestine and disrupts the digestive system. These hook-shaped worms latch on the intestinal wall with their teeth and feed on the blood of their host. Two forms of these worms live in cats, the Ancylostoma tubaeforme which is the aggressive one, and the Ancylostoma braziliense.
These are flat and segmented worms that belong to the species, Dipylidium caninum. They’re usually found in the walls of the small intestine, on the hairs around the anus, and freshly passed feces.
Common signs that your cat has worms
Watch out for these signs and symptoms in your pet cats. If you notice that your felines manifest these then you should consult the vet right away:
- bloated belly
- bloated belly
- weight loss
- dark and tarry stool
- coughing and wheezing
- poor coat quality
- loss of energy
- sore bottom
- weight loss
- biting, licking or scratching the anus
- shortness of breath
If you suspect that your pet cat has worms, have her stool sampled checked and visit your vet for a thorough check-up.
What are the causes why cats have worms?
Cats can easily get infected especially if they’re the outdoor ones but even indoor cats can also get worms by ingesting infected fleas and if they happen to go out once in a while and eat infected prey.
These are the common causes why cats have worms:
1. Ingestion of larvae through mother cat’s milk
Newborn kittens can get infected with worms by ingesting larvae through their mother’s milk because she may be infected. Vets highly recommend that mother cats should be dewormed before and after giving birth to make sure that the newborns won’t be infected.
2. Eating infected prey like rats and birds
Cats can easily get worms especially if they go outside and hunt infected rodents like rats or even birds that have worm larvae living in their tissues. These larvae eventually become worms and populate in the intestines.
3. Having fleas and ingesting them during grooming
Even indoor cats can get worms if they ingest fleas that are carriers of worm eggs which eventually grow into worms in the intestines.
4. Ingesting infected feces through contaminated water or soil
Cats that walk or step on infected feces with worm larvae or eggs can also get worms once they ingest it while grooming themselves.
How to prevent and treat worms in cats?
It’s often said that prevention is better than cure and this is true also when it comes to worms in cats. Prevention is best done through regular deworming and even kittens are often dewormed several times because they’re highly susceptible to worms that the mother cat can pass on to them through her milk. See our article on how much does it cost to deworm a cat for information on the cost of deworming.
Even if a cat has been treated earlier for parasites, a reinfestation may still occur and in such cases, you should always consult your vet so he can diagnose the type of worms infesting your cat. This will allow your vet to prescribe the right medication to eradicate the worms for good.
Cats may, at certain points in their lives, become infected with worms either through ingestion of contaminated water or soil, through their mother’s milk, by eating infected prey or even fleas. Nevertheless, they can live a full life for up to 15 years even if they have worms.
However, this may not be the case if the situation has been left unattended and worms have heavily populated inside a cat’s body. To prevent this, always consult your vet for the right steps to take such as regular deworming and periodic check-ups to ensure that your pet cats are healthy and worm-free.