What are worms?

Worms are parasites that can live inside your cat for a very long time, often without you even knowing. There are 5 main types of worms in the UK: roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm, hookworm and lungworm.

There are two other types of worms that your cat is at risk from, if you take them abroad for instance: heartworm and eyeworm. 

Why should I worry about worms?

There are many different species of worms that cats can be infected with, each posing different risks. If left untreated they can seriously harm your cat, some even resulting in cat's death.

Some worms can pass from cats to people through grooming, stroking or the environment.

Whilst most human infections cause only minor symptoms, rare cases can lead to serious conditions such as blindness and epilepsy. Most kittens are born with roundworms (Toxocara), where they live the cat’s intestines and cause problems for kittens. Although rare, roundworm infestations in people are associated with the most serious conditions. Tapeworm (Dipylidium) is the most common worm in the UK can also transmit to people and cause cysts on the liver or lungs. As the name suggests, heartworm infests the heart of the animal and in the advanced stages can be fatal. Thankfully the UK is currently free from heartworm, but travelling cats are at risk, as it is present in the continental Europe, USA and Australia.

Unfortunately, it is very hard to spot if your cat has worms, as they often look healthy on the outside, even if they have worms on the inside. Any symptoms are often not associated with a worm infestation until the infection is severe.

How can my cat get worms?

There are many different ways that worms can transmit from animal to animal. It can be through the contaminated environment or ingestion of infested slugs, snails or fleas.

How do I protect my cat and my family?

Unfortunately, there is no pill or injection that can completely prevent worm infestation in your cat.  The best you can do is kill any present worms and stop the lifecycle regularly. We recommend you worm your pet with a broad-spectrum effective product at least every 3 months (the length of worm’s lifecycle). We advise that you take the cat's lifestyle into consideration.

Kittens, hunting or scavenging cats and those who live in a multi-pet household are more at risk, therefore it is recommended that they are wormed monthly.

There are many different forms of worming product on today's market. To ensure you get the right product for your cat and learn how often to worm them, come and speak to our nurses in our free clinics, at any of our surgeries.

To keep yourself and your family safe, ensure you clear up any animal faeces promptly, wash your hands regularly, especially when children have been playing outside. Additionally, don’t allow children to put soil or sand in their mouths. Some worms and their eggs can survive in sandpits and children’s play areas, make sure you cover these, when not in use.

If you’re worried about how to prevent worms or have any questions, come along to us for a FREE nurse consultation at any of our surgeries (an appointment may be necessary).

Download the Worms in Pets content here (PDF)