What are Worms and how Can Your Cat Get them?

Worms are one of the more unpleasant things that can affect your cat, and are surprisingly complex organisms despite their simple appearance.

They live inside cats, as this habitat not only provides them with food, but also protection; they will affect a cat’s ability to eat and digest in order to feed themselves, too. This ultimately undermines a cat’s immune system, leaving them open to a number of other conditions in the long term - if left untreated, of course. Worms spread in a variety of ways, though most of these means are shared by different worm types. While it is very important to protect your cat from worms with regular over-the-counter treatments, it pays to know where they come from to understand the key threats to your cat’s health.

From fleas

Fleas are common carriers of worms, as flea larvae can ingest tapeworm eggs. Fleas also provide a suitable environment for worm eggs to develop, much like a cat’s digestive tract. While flea bites won’t pass the infection, ingestion will - such as when your cat cleans itself.

Through hunting other animals

Mice, birds and other small animals that are naturally hunted by cats can also carry eggs, and these can be passed on through eating this live prey - something to keep a close eye on, should you receive a gift from an outdoor cat.

From their mothers

Kittens are susceptible to catching worms from their mother, as they can be passed through nursing and feeding either from the placenta when born, or through the milk itself. If you own both a mother and her kitten and one shows signs of infection, there is a possibility that the other may have worms, too.

Via beetles and other small insects

Other insects may also carry worm eggs. Eating a host animal that has acquired larvae in its tissues - such as a beetle - is another common way that worms make their way into a cat’s body.

From the ground

Finally, cats acquire worms by ingesting eggs directly from soil, whether licking the ground or cleaning their feet after being outdoors. Larvae will be released once hitting a cat’s digestive tract.