Pet Wellness Guides > How Do Cats Get Worms? - Pet Insurance Review

How Do Cats Get Worms?

Posted: 04/02/2024 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Cat , Health problems

You’re sitting in your living room, enjoying your semi-warm DoorDash delivery while streaming your favorite Netflix show, when all of a sudden your cat scootches his butt across the very expensive area rug. Does he have worms? But he’s an indoor cat. How do cats get worms exactly and what can you do?

Most cats will have worms at some point in their lifetime, with the most common worms being hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. In addition to an itchy bottom, cats can show other symptoms of worms including vomiting, diarrhea, and malnutrition.

Understanding how cats get worms can help you protect your fur baby from these intestinal parasites. Let’s dive into this topic further.

How Did My Cat Get Worms?

There are a variety of places where cats can become infected with worms.

Worm Eggs in the Environment

If you have a multi-pet household, should one cat be infected with roundworms, they can pass roundworms on in their feces. Should your cats groom one another, one cat can ingest these small eggs easily and now become infected.

If you have an inside/outside cat, understand that worm eggs can also leach into the surrounding environment. So that means they can be laying in wait in the soil in your garden or yard, and they can actually survive for long periods of time. Should your cat somehow ingest these eggs, they can become infected.

Hookworms can actually penetrate the cat’s skin, so should your cat simply walk over an infested area like the litter box or backyard, they can become infected.

From Fleas

One of the most common ways cats get tapeworms is when they have fleas. When your cat grooms himself or another cat and ingests infected fleas, they now have larvae inside their GI tract. And because cats are so fastidious and such good groomers, they are at high risk for getting tapeworms. 

Many households have fleas but if you’re a cat parent you never even know it because cats are such good groomers they have eaten them off their body. And fleas can easily get inside your house in a variety of ways. You can bring them in on your clothes from the outdoors or from being in an infested home.


Cats have a huge prey drive. If you’ve had the displeasure of finding part of a bird or mouse in your basement or on your patio, you know the rest of that mouse or bird probably ended up inside your cat. Many rodents and birds have parasites that remain dormant inside of them. When a cat eats them, these dormant parasites wake up and grow into adult worms in the cat’s intestines.

From Mother’s Milk

Sadly, many kittens can get worms from their mothers who themselves have an untreated infestation. Roundworm larvae can easily be passed to kittens through the milk. And, because kittens are so vulnerable in the first few weeks of life, it can become very dangerous should they develop diarrhea, vomiting, and poor weight gain.

What Are the Symptoms of Worms in Cats?

A cat with worms will show common signs and symptoms. The most common are typically diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms of worms include:

  • Spaghetti-like worms in your cat’s stool or vomit
  • Weight loss
  • A bloated belly
  • Coughing
  • Dehydration

It’s important to mention that while intestinal parasites are generally not life-threatening in healthy, adult cats, severe cases can result in death. If you suspect your cat may have worms it’s important to bring them into your vet to be diagnosed and treated.

How to Treat Your Cat for Worms

Should your vet determine your cat has worms, they will prescribe a deworming treatment. There are several deworming treatments available including spot-on wormers and tablets.

The majority of deworming products on the market will kill a specific type or types of worms, so never assume and treat your fur baby without the guidance of your vet. Your vet will determine the type of worm your fur baby has and prescribe the right medication to kill them.

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The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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