Internal parasites of one kind or another are something that every cat owner must be aware of. Worms are transmitted through contact with parasite eggs or something that contains them, such as infected faeces. Your cat can pick up worms from a number of sources: from other animals, from fleas, or by eating wild prey such as mice or other rodents. You can greatly reduce the risk by keeping your cat indoors, but it’s still possible for them to pick up worms. While many kinds of worms are species-specific and can only infect cats, some are transmissible to other animals and humans.
Can I get worms from my cat sleeping in my bed? Yes. While it’s not very likely, it is possible for you to get worms through close contact with your cat. If parasite eggs are present on the cat’s fur or paws, they can be transferred to you.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about cats and internal parasites. Can I contract worms from my cat? Can a cat give worms to people in the household? How do cats get worms? How do I treat my cat’s worms? What should I do if my cat has worms? Can sleeping with a cat transmit worms? What types of worms can affect cats? Are worms dangerous to cats? Keep reading, because we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. You’ll learn what worms are, how they’re transmitted and how you can avoid catching worms from your cat.
Can I Get Worms from My Cat Sleeping in My Bed?
Yes, it’s possible for you to get worms from your cat if she sleeps in your bed. It’s not a grave risk, but it is a possibility. The parasite eggs (oocytes) that develop into worms can be transmitted to humans. You have to ingest the oocytes for this too happen, which makes it harder for you to become infected.
The likelihood that you’ll contract worms is increased by close contact. If your cat is lying close to your face or if the oocytes are transferred to your bedding, it’s possible that you could accidentally ingest them.
If your cat has picked up worms, the oocytes will be present in its faeces. Because cats lick themselves clean, it’s possible for them to end up on the cat’s fur. When you pet her, they can be transferred to your hands. They can then be ingested if you touch your face or handle food. Obviously, if your cat rubs against your face while you’re lying in bed, transmission is more likely. If your cat rolls on your pillow and you put your face on it, you’re more likely to get worms from her.
I tend to discourage people from sleeping with their cats. I know it’s lovely to curl up in bed with your pet, but it’s just too easy to pick things up from them if you’re in bed together. It’s a very good way to get fleas and to contract any transmissible illnesses than your cat is carrying. If you have cat allergies, like me, allowing your cat to sleep in your bed will make them worse. For these reasons, my bedroom is a cat-free zone. My British Shorthair tom objects to this, but I have to gainsay him.
I’m also very scrupulous about washing my hands when I’ve been petting my cats. They are very clean animals, but they’re not immune to carrying diseases that you can also get. It’s a good habit to get into. Children in particular should be taught to wash their hands when they’ve been playing with pets, as they’re more likely to touch their faces or put their fingers in their mouths.
How Do Cats Get Worms?
It is all too easy for a cat to pick up worms. Outdoor cats can come into contact with parasite eggs in countless ways, of course. They can uncover infected faeces in the soil, catch a prey animal that’s carrying the parasite, interact with other cats who are infected, and so on.
Indoor cats are safer, but they can still come into contact with oocytes. Dirt containing the eggs can easily be tracked into the home, and a cat may walk in it and then lick her paws. Indoor cats may also catch house mice and other invading rodents, which can carry the parasite in their muscle tissues.
If you have dogs, some of their internal parasites can also live in cats. It’s possible for a cat to catch worms from a dog if the cat is exposed to the dog’s faeces.
Once one cat is infected with worms, it’s highly likely that any other cats in your household will also be infected. Cats that share a litter-box may also share parasites.
What Types of Worms Affect Cats?
The commonest types of worms in cats are roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and tapeworms. These infections are usually not serious and are very easy to treat. It’s also possible for your cat to be infected with more dangerous parasites, however. Although less common, these parasites can cause serious ill-health and even death. They include:
- Liver flukes
- Stomach worms
- Bladder worms
Cats with internal parasites may be completely asymptomatic, with the infestation only coming to light during a vet check-up. Healthy cats can often walk around with worms and not show any sign of it for months on end. My British Shorthair has been diagnosed with worms once or twice, despite showing no symptoms whatsoever.
More severe infestations can produce a range of symptoms. Weight loos is quite common, and the cat may generally appear less healthy. Your cat’s coat may look dull and her body kitchen may deteriorate. Her abdomen may swell and she may have episodes of vomiting or diarrhoea.
As the condition progresses, the cat may show other symptoms. Dehydration is common, especially if there’s diarrhoea or vomiting. You may see adult worms in vomitus or faeces. The cat may become weak and lethargic, and may take herself off somewhere to hide. Coughing and breathing difficulties are possible. The cat’s lips and gums may become pale due to the development of anaemia. Low blood pressure can also occur.
In very extreme and untreated cases, the cat may go into shock. Rarely, death may result.
Regular check-ups are important for your pet’s health. If you suspect worms, contact your vet and obtain an appropriate treatment. The worming pills sold in pet stores are often weak and ineffective; ask your vet for the proper medication.
How Do I Avoid Getting Worms from My Cat?
Worms are unlikely in adults, with children being more likely to catch them. Everyone should take care around cats, however. Always wash your hands after you have been petting or handling your cat, and be especially careful about washing before you eat or prepare food.
Make sure that any children in the household understand the importance of hand-washing after they’ve been playing with the cat. With very small children, supervise their interactions with the cat; at the toddler age, everything tends to end up in the child’s mouth (including your cat’s ears and tail). Make sure you wash their hands for them afterwards.
Litter-boxes are hot zones for parasite eggs, as well as lots of other nasty infections like toxoplasmosis. Wear gloves when you clean the litter-box and, once again, wash your hands very carefully. Disinfect the litter-box and the floor around it regularly.
As noted above, prompt treatment for worms is very important. While certain types of parasite may not cause any problems, or even any symptoms, in a healthy cat, they can wear away at your pet’s health if they aren’t dealt with. The longer your cat is infected, the greater the risk that she’ll pass the infestation onto you.
Worms aren’t a major hazard for the majority of cat owners. As long as you follow common-sense hygiene precautions, you don’t really have anything to worry about.