Parasitic worms are a very common problem in our domestic cats and kittens, and if left untreated, can do quite a bit of damage. These simple organisms live inside our pets, but can be transferred to people, so it’s important to deworm your cat regularly.
How does a cat pick up worms?
A cat can pick up worms from a number of sources:
- Swallowing larvae from their mother’s milk
- Suffering from fleas, which often carry tapeworm larvae, and swallowing them when grooming
- Catching infected prey – most animals carry internal parasites, passing them on if they are eaten
- Picking up larvae on their paws outside, and swallowing it when they groom themselves
- Slugs and snails can carry lungworm, and if a cat eats one, the lungworm larvae gets passed on
Types of worms
There are 8 different types of worm that can infect your cat or kitten, the most common being roundworms and tapeworms. Roundworms look like thin spaghetti, but tend to be pointed at either end, and tapeworms resemble a string of tiny grains of rice. Each segment, or rice grain, contains eggs, and these break off, pass out of the cat, and are picked up by the next host.
How do I know if my cat has worms?
Many cats show no signs of having worms, which is why regular deworming is so essential, and it can be assumed that by the time any symptoms show, the damage may already be done.
If there is a large number of worms, sometimes you can spot them in your cat’s feces, or they may be present if your cat vomits, but it’s important not to rely on seeing them for a diagnosis.
Watch out for these other symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Kittens with worms tend to have a pot belly
- Unhealthy looking fur
- Sore bottom
- Coughing and wheezing can be a sign of lungworm
How to deworm a cat with home remedies
Although I would always recommend taking your pet to the veterinarian if you are worried about anything, routine deworming can be carried out at home. It can be more comfortable for your cat, too, as some get distressed visiting the vet.
The best home remedy for worms is Diatomaceous earth – also called D.E. This is a natural occurring soft powder, formed from siliceous sedimentary rock, and consisting of microscopic fossilized algae – known as diatoms. Looking a little like a grainy baby powder, it’s commonly used as a flea remedy in pets, but can also be used internally to kill parasitic worms.
There are two types of DE – filter grade, and food grade. The filter grade is only suitable for industrial purposes and is toxic to animals due to the high levels of silica. But the food grade DE is completely safe and its use is approved by the EPA, USDA, and FDA.
To prevent pests, DE can be sprinkled around your pet’s bedding and even lightly brushed through its fur. If a flea comes into contact with it, the microscopic fossils pierce its hard outer shell, causing it to dehydrate and die.
For use as a dewormer, mix 1 teaspoon (half a teaspoon for kittens) into your cat’s food daily, and as with fleas, the fossils pierce the worm, killing it.