A Guide to Gastrointestinal Worms in Cats

A Guide to Gastrointestinal Worms in Cats

It is estimated that three out of every four cats carry intestinal worms. Not only can worms make your cat sick, some species of worms can also be transferred to humans, with children being most at risk.

Hookworms in cats may reach 7-12 mm in length and can infect animals from the environment. This occurs when worms are swallowed or penetrate through the skin.

Hookworms attach themselves to the intestinal wall (using teeth like structures) and feed on the felines blood.

Hookworms can cause cause serious disease as by feeding on the blood of the animal, this can quickly cause anaemia

Symptoms of Hookworm infestation may include:

  • Anaemia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Stunted growth
  • Weight loss

Roundworms (ascarids) may reach 10 cm in length, and can infect cats when worms are swallowed.

The majority of felines display no outward sign of Roundworm infection.  Kittens are more likely to display clinical signs.
Symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Pneumonia
  • Weight loss
  • Dull coat
  • Swollen / Distended abdomen (with heavy infestation)

The two main types of roundworm which infect felines are Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina.

Toxocara cati - The infection is called Toxocariasis. Lots of cats may have the worm present in their body yet they may display no external sign of disease. These cats however, periodically pass the egg stage of the worm in their faeces, thus contaminating the environment subsequently acting as a source of infection for spread to other animals.


Tapeworms live in your felines gut and may reach 50-60 cm in length. The Common Flea Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) infects cats after ingestion of infected fleas. The Taenia Tapeworm (Taenia taeniaeformis) infects cats after they eat infected rodents.

Tapeworms attach themselves to the intestinal wall.

These tapeworms cause irritation and itching around the anus but are not considered to be a major health risk.


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