How Does My Indoor Cat Get Worms?

If you have a cat, the odds of your kitty contracting an intestinal parasite is very good. It would be more shocking if a cat went its whole life never contracting worms.

Both indoor cats and outdoor cats are at risk of contracting worms. Infestation depends on the type of worm, but most often, cats get worms by coming into contact with fleas, eggs or infected particles in feces.

Fleas are carriers for tapeworm eggs. If a flea jumps onto your cat, they could accidentally ingest the flea by grooming or scratching. If the cat eats a flea it’s almost a guarantee that the pet will contract a tapeworm. Another easy way for your cat to contract worms is by indirect contact. Even if your kitty never goes outside, there’s a good chance that members of the household come and go daily. Having a dog in the same home could bring back a parasite such as a roundworm after a walk, or playdate. Microscopic worm eggs can lay dormant for months, so it’s easy to track them in on your clothing and footwear. There’s no way to avoid them completely when you are outdoors. You can lower the chances of contamination by removing or cleaning shoes before entering the house. Another way is by having potted plants in your home, bags of potting soil can be contaminated by parasite eggs, your indoor only kitty could then walk or dig in the soil, later groom his paws ingesting an egg.

Some signs associated with intestinal parasite infections are fairly nonspecific and adult cats infected with worms may show no clinical symptoms at all. But here are some things to look for:

  • Dull haircoat
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Mucoid or bloody feces
  • Loss/or increase of appetite
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • A pot-bellied appearance.

If you are worried your indoor cat may have contracted an intestinal parasite, please contact us to set up an appointment with your veterinarian.

Written by: Alyssa Henneberry, CCS