Pet Tips

Tip 63 – Worms in kittens – worms in cats

When your cat or kitten has worms, it is the result of coming into contact with a parasite (usually a flea) that has entered your cat’s body. Most kittens are born with worms and will need to be dewormed (take a medication that kills the worms) several times during the months that make up kittenhood. It is therefore necessary that EVERY new kitten be checked by a vet to see if it has worms and for a general health exam.

Roundworms are the most common source of worms in kittens and tapeworms are the most common source of worms in adult cats. Roundworms get into the kittens through mother’s milk and into mother usually by way of contaminated soil. A kitten with roundworms will have a pot bellied appearance. Roundworms themselves look like spaghetti noodles and can be present in stool or vomit. They are easily treatable with oral medication.

Tapeworms in adult cats are usually the result of the cat ingesting a flea (with the tapeworm inside it) during a normal self grooming session. Outdoor cats can also get tapeworms by eating prey such as raw meat and raw fish. Tapeworms are about 1 cm or 1/4 inch long. You may see them moving around the fur around your cat’s anus. Tapeworms that have left the cat’s anus and have dried up, look like grains of rice and can be spotted in places where your cat sleeps. Due to the fact that the worms usually came from fleas if your cat has tapeworms it also probably has fleas. Therefore it needs BOTH deworming and flea medication to stop the cycle. Make sure your vet checks for both scenarios.

Extra info:

* Never try to deal with a worm or flea problem by yourself by buying an over the counter medicine. Many of these medications have caused fatalities in cats. Always get worm/flea medications from your veterinarian.

* Occasionally cats can have a reaction to deworming medication (or any medication for that matter) even if it has been administered by your veterinarian. Vomiting, diarrhea, shaking or poor co-ordination can all indicate a bad reaction to the medication. In this case the vet should be contacted immediately.

49 Responses to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar Ailene Tanaka says:

    We found a stray cat & took her to our vet for a check up this a.m.. She was given all required shots & de-worming medication. She seemed fine today but this evening, she refuses her food. Is this normal? She usually has a good appetite & is always looking for more food.

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Sometimes cats won’t eat for a short time when they have experienced stress.
      If this continues beyond 24 hours, I’d call my vet….but if waiting that 24 hours is getting you nervous, then call sooner.

  2. Avatar Ailene Tanaka says:

    Do cats get a reaction to first time vaccinations & deworming treatments?

  3. Avatar Ellena says:

    My cat is 14 and i think i have seen dead tape worms that look like grains where she sleeps. I am afraid to give her a dewormer because of her age. I am affraid of a bad reaction to it. Anyone knows a safe dewormer or a natural one?
    What does the vet subminsters to them in case of a bad reaction, what kind of medication?

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Blindly giving veterinary advice on the Net for something you think you’ve seen would make us irresponsible…as would providing the names of drugs and dosages for something you think you’ve seen.

      Please take your cat to a real live veterinarian for examination and treatment.

      Good luck!

  4. Avatar Holly says:

    iN RESPONSE TO ELLENA:
    There are indeed natural wormers that are effective for parasites in cats. A site that offers several good ones in http://www.onlynaturalpet.com.
    I own a small cattery and treat all my cats with natural products with great success.

  5. Avatar Rachell says:

    I have a little older than 6 weeks old kitten. Half minx and half siamese. Whenever she goes to make a movement in her litter box her butthole becomes swollen and red. I thought she had just a little infection so i started to use hypoallergetic baby wipes to clean what was left of the stool on her butt. Whe i check the baby wipe there was blood on it. Im very concerned. What does this mean?

    • Avatar Marko says:

      It means that you need to take this poor kitten to see a live vet. Infections require antibiotics not baby wipes.
      Please see a vet.

  6. Avatar Tarra says:

    I have a kitten who is about 3months old. Somehow she contracted roundworms and is now on medication after I’ve taken her to the vet. I have made sure to keep her litter clean every time she uses the litter box. I still afraid to let her sleep with me though. Can I get worms from her just being around me? Is it alright for her to let her sleep on my bed?

    • Avatar Marko says:

      As far as i know…you’d have to actually eat the roundworms eggs to get roundworm so i think the chance is pretty low. The said, wash hands thoroughly and use gloves/protection whenever you are on litterbox duty.
      Babies on the other hand are more at risk if the baby is outside and plays w/cat poop and then puts hand to mouth….or plays with infected poop in the litterbox.

  7. Avatar Nikki says:

    My kitten has a tape worm I have treated him with the vets medication. I’m just wondering if since the worms are coming out.. The kitten is licking his bum area, will he just repeat the cycle by consuming them again? I’m not always there or awake to pluck them off of his fur.

  8. Avatar Charles says:

    Fleas and tapeworms go together – so treat for both or reinfection is likely! (See http://www.CatWormsSymptoms.com for more.) Also, if your cat keeps getting reinfected with fleas despite treatment, this may be because they are nesting in your carpet, so you may need to treat that too…

  9. Avatar Jackye says:

    I have learn that my 1 year old cat has worms tonight, I am going to call the Vet in the morning. I think she has tapeworms. Should I let her sleep in my bed with me? Can I get worms from her sleeping with me?

  10. Avatar alyssa says:

    my names alyssa my kitten i think has round worms and i dont know what to do my mom says to isolate him but i think hes dieing and i dont wanna isolate him but i dont want the other cats to get it what should i do?

  11. Avatar Alfie says:

    My beautiful kitten (about 2months) died yesterday. It was only the day
    Before I had picked him up from the vet who said he had a bad case of
    Worms so he had given him a strong tablet. He said he would be better
    In 3-4 days and not to worry. The next day( yesterday) he died. In devastated
    And want to know if it possible that the tablet killed him
    Or was it the worms? Is it possible for a kitten to die
    From worm medication? I know they can die from worms buy
    The vet seemed to think he was getting better? Missing him terribly.

    • Avatar Marko says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Please accept my deepest condolences. the only true way to find out what the cat died from would be by autopsy. Unfortunately those aren’t cheap.
      In terms of how the kitten died, although it is possible that it was from the meds, in my experience it’s more likely the worms….but I am not a vet.
      My condolences again.

  12. Avatar nikole says:

    i just got a cat he is probly 4-5months old i noticed a few lil white things around his anus today when i picked him up, it also seemd wet . right away i thought it was worms they are lil white specks as big as a grain of rice but they dont move or wiggle around is this worms or something else???

  13. Avatar Marc says:

    Hi I have a 6 month old kitten had him 4 months he has always eaten alot and been fine then 2 days ago he wouldn’t eat his food then this morning he was sick and a see a small white worm in his vomit so I have give him medication for worms this morning but he still wont eat and is really skinny any help?

  14. Avatar Lou says:

    Is there any one medicine that kills round AND hook worms?

  15. Avatar Colleen says:

    Hello, Marco, I notice you comment a lot on this site. Do you own it? Are you a vet? The reason I ask is almost every response you make is to go to a vet. In the past month I have spent over 3000 dollars in vet bills. When I am looking for a simple answer, the last thing I wish to hear right now is “vet time!” or “time to take it to a vet”. What I would like to know is, what safe de-wormer can I give a 3 week pregnant female?

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Hi Colleen,

      I co-own this site and i am NOT a vet. I answer many questions that I know the answer to every day for free.
      On our site the vast majority of answers are answered by pet loving people like myself.
      If you ever find a site where vets answer loads of questions for free, please let me know. I highly doubt you’ll find one though because both human medical questions as well as veterinary questions require a back and forth (dog’s history, allergies, age, current medication etc.)

      You are not asking what varnish is best for cherrywood….

      With respect – at the bottom of every single article – this is written.

      LEAVE A COMMENT
      (Additional questions? Ask them for free in our dog – cat – pet forum)

      But you asked this question here, not in the pet forum.

      There you’ll get a variety of answers from different people who are also not vets. and they may give you the same answer because we are responsible pet owners who don’t give out medical answers when we don’t know the answer. I hear your frustration but often free advice is worth what you paid for it.
      Good luck.

  16. Avatar andrea says:

    I just got a kitten 2 days ago i took it to the vet and got its shot and a dewormer but i still see little white worms when it uses the bathroom. idk if its just the dewormer hasnt completely worked yet or if its something else?

    • Avatar Marko says:

      I’m not a vet but i do believe it takes a few days to a week or so to work.
      Given that you already took your pet to the vet, asking this question to your vet or his/her vet tech by phone should not cost you extra.
      Good luck!

  17. Avatar Lightning the Cat says:

    I just recently got a kitten for Christmas, now its about 5 months old. Last week it got sick and I found a round worm in its throw up. I called the vet to ask what medecine to give? if there is anything I could go buy to treat for round worms. The vet said no. Today, I made a vet visit. The vet checked all vitals and took a stole sample. The vet gave a one month supply of REVOLUTION for Cats 0 – 5 lbs. Its a topical ointment applied between cats shoulders on SKIN. It treats many common problems found in cats. I found it online on many different websites, but many websites you need to have a veterinarian prescription. Revolution for CATS will treat for:
    Prevents heartworm disease
    Kills adult fleas and prevents their eggs from hatching
    Treats and controls ear mites
    Treats and controls sarcoptic mange (in dogs only)
    Controls roundworms and hookworms (in cats only)
    One tube applied monthly
    Each tube contains Selemectin
    The cheapest price I found was around 35.00 shipped for a 3 month supply. I am not a VET, I do care about my pets, and my wallet. After a 120.00 vet bill and the price of the medicine on top, it is very costly just to treat one problem. I know the importance of vet visits but the cost seems overwhelming sometimes. I hope this information will help someone looking to keep there pets healthy.

  18. Avatar Becky says:

    So we have been finding these pinkish rice-looking things in our bed since we got our cat (January 1st), and we have just discovered that it might be tapeworms… and have set up an appointment with our vet.

    1. We have a dog, who happens to lick everything including the floor. When we first started finding this rice stuff on the bed, we just wiped it off the bed and moved on with life… therefore it went on the floor… where the dog licks. Can the dog catch it that way? Should he also be treated?

    2. Can we catch it from sleeping in the bed with these rice things before we noticed it?

  19. Avatar Aisha says:

    Hi. I have a one month plus old kitten. This morning i took her out to the vet to be dewormed. However later on today my cat started pooping roundworms. Should I be concerned and take her out to the vet again? Please help I really don’t know what to do.

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Given that it’s the same day – I would call my vet to see what’s up for some advice and it should not cost you anymore money for the phone advice.
      Good luck!

  20. Avatar monica says:

    hi i have got a kitten , well i took the kitten from outside the houses because she was terribly looking. i took her to the vet yesterday and she told me that my kitten has a kitten flu because her eyes was red and crusty and she was sneezing a lot. the vet told me that she was going to survive because the flu isn’t worse yet, and i see some improvement after the kittens treatment her eyes got better and the flu infection from her eyes had nearly dissapear but still she sneezing. another thing the vet told me that she has worms because her coat wasn’t looking good and her belly was fat round and she eats and drink alot. she gave her antibiotics and worm half tablet and she told me that worms should dissapear but i will need to come back after 4 weeks for re worm tablet and her first vaccination. i wonder, how long does it take for the worm tablet to take the effect on worms? how long her belly will return to normal? what side effects are of the tablet.

  21. Avatar Ellena says:

    In response to Monica:
    The de-wormer takes about 1week to work. It needs a repeat to kill all the eggs. As per the vaccination, given the fact you r keeping the cat at home now, i would wait for the kitty to get really well, strong and put some weight on before giving a vaccine which many times have bad results on cats. You can also google vaccination on pets and the side effects, for more info. You can spend less on vaccines by taking your kitty to a vaccinatiin clinic but be careful on the type of vaccine you give, meaning there r three type:live virus, dead virus with adjuvants and recombinant vaccone. The last one being best, the dead virus with adjuvant being worst because adjuvants have been proven to cause cancer calked sarcoma, and live virus is tricky because sometimes it turns into the real desease. The best is to not give poly-valent vaccines especially to kittens. So, better one vaccine at a time 6weeks apart than one vaccine that has three different type of vaccines inside (like FVRCP). also, the flu vaccine seems to b the only one really needed if cat stays at home, everything else they get in contact with other sick cats like rabies or leukemia. This is from talking to a homeopathic vet as well as from my own research. Do your due diligence before any decision on vaccines. These are my two cents:)

  22. Avatar Ellena says:

    For Monica and Holly:

    Holly once told me about a website with natural products http://www.onlynaturalpets.com, where you can find natural dewormers though I would personally consult with a holistic vet before using anything. Maybe Holly can tell you what she uses with great success. I fibd holistic vets much more prepared than a normal vet because not only they have gone to a vet school but also holistic training and know best of both worlds versus a normal vet relying only on antibiotics or pills generally and not knowing about supplements. E.g. In flu cases my vet recommends lysine to support the immune system. I get treats from amazon containing 250mg for two pieces.

  23. Avatar Gary says:

    Today I noticed a white substance ( kinda looked like a small piece of paper ) by my cats anus. I wiped it off and watched it for a minute, it shrunk to a blob and then started stretching out to over an inch long, then retracted again.I’ve never seen anything like this before. She was a stray and was adopted from a shelter where she had her shots and was dewormed. On the first vet visit, I was told her health was good and that she was in good shape. Any ideas ? I can’t find a picture on the net that matches what I saw.

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Sounds to me like this is a worm and you’ll want to take the cat to a vet to confirm this and get the proper treatment.
      Good luck!

  24. Avatar Tom H says:

    Our cat displayed many of the symptoms listed above. The round patches of hair missing was terrible. Thanks to this site we were able to identify and get her the help she needed and back to health!

  25. Avatar Misty K says:

    My 2 yo female cat was treated for roundworm yesterday. Is it normal for her to still still have live worms crawling in and out of her anus? I understand that its normal for her to pass dead ones but these seem alive and well. When will my baby princess have relief ?

  26. Avatar terri says:

    Just came across this site and just wanted to add, if you have questions regarding flea and wormer treatment but don’t wish to fork out to visit a vet each time. Some pet shops and even pharmacy s like boots have staff qualified and licensed to advise on and sell prescription flea and wormer.

  27. Avatar Emma says:

    Hi, I have a 20 week old kitten who eats alot and is always playful but never seems to have any problems. But when I went to play with him, I noticed he had what looked like to be a noodle in his anus. He has never been sick and he doesn’t have anything in his feces or even been outside, so what could it be? Did he just eat an actual noodle and just not digest it fully?

  28. Avatar mandy says:

    We just got a 2 year old cat from the humane society. He puked some bile that containes little white chunks. they are like paper one was about a square inch in diameter. it doesn’t look like rice. its like a chunky white substance. is this worms?

  29. Avatar amber says:

    I just got a 6 month old cat from someone about a month ago. A few weeks ago i noticed a fur ball in her food bowl. And in the fur ball i seen what looked like a tiny worm. I just got her shots and gor her fixed. Will that take away the worms now that she just got her shots?

  30. Avatar Shay says:

    Hi… I just noticed that my 9 month old cat who I recused from a tire garage when she was 2 months had something spaghetti looking moving on the outer part of her butt… I looked it up and found that she has roundworms… Now my question is I have 8 other cats 3 of which are kittens is this contagious to them? And can I give my cat an over the counter medicine being that I’m a little low on funds?

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Hi Shay,

      No over the counter recommendations please (bad dosing and bad products regularly kill cats )- you’ll need to see a vet but this shouldn’t be too expensive. Roundworms are contagious.

  31. Avatar Robyn says:

    Hi Marko, I got a 4.5 week old kitten this Wednesday and took him to the vet on Thursday for a dewormer. On Thursday and Friday I gave him wet food so it would be easier to eat. Ever since then he has had the runs, I understand that the food could just be to rich for his system so I’ve put him back on dry food and that a dewormer can take up to a week to fully kick in, but is it to soon to start worrying? It sounds like he is in pain when he needs to do his business but then he is fine and runs around like nothings wrong? He is just so tiny and I feel so sorry for him

  32. Avatar Heather says:

    Hi Marko,

    My 13 week old kitten was diagnosed with tapeworms when I took him to get neutured last week. They also gave him a capstar and I purchased a comfortis tablet for him. The vet did a fecal not to long ago and it came back negative so I was a little shocked that he had worms. Needless to say the vet perscribed him Droncit. My question is after I give him the pill will worms just be falling out of his bottom until this is cured or will he know it and go to the litter box? Do I need to kennel him? Thank You!

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Hi Heather – I’m not a vet and I don’t know the answer to this one so I encourage you to post this on our forum. Someone there should surely be able to offer advice.
      Good luck.

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