What are worms?
Worms are internal parasites that can cause loss of condition and ill health in cats as well as posing a potential risk to people. Most pets have worms, although it's not always easy to tell if your cat is infested as often there aren't any outward symptoms of ill health.
Symptoms are difficult to spot, but can include loss of condition, vomiting and diarrhoea. . By the time you notice these symptoms, the worms can be damaging your cat's health.
What causes worms?
Cat worms can be split into two groups - roundworms and tapeworms:
Roundworms are pale white to beige in colour and may be coiled like a spring. They grow to approximately 100mm in length and you may see them in your cat's faeces or vomit.
Cats pick up roundworms by eating their larvae and the adult worm then develops inside the cat's body with worms and eggs being passed out in faeces. These eggs then develop into larvae and the cycle starts again.
Tapeworms are white or pale in colour and resemble flat segments filled with moving eggs that look like grains of rice. You might see tapeworm segments in faeces or near your pet's anus. Cats are infected with tapeworm by swallowing fleas while grooming. Once inside the cat's gut, the worm larvae carried by the flea develops into an adult worm that can grow up to 5 metres in length.
To treat worms, you should administer an effective wormer, following the manufacturer's recommendations.
It is far better to prevent your cat from ever getting worms, than to wait until there's a problem. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) recommends that cats are wormed at least every 3 months. More regular treatment of young kittens is particularly important.
Your vet, country store, pet shop or pharmacist will be able to advise you on worming products.