The answer to this question is yes. However, that doesn’t mean you have to kick your cat out of your bed. Some may say keep your cat out of your bed, and you won’t have to worry about getting worms from your cat. But, if you were like me, I’d still allow my cat on my bed and make sure I took preventative measures. Or, in the worst case, treat my cat and me for the infestation. In this article, we’ll go over how to prevent your cat from getting worms or giving them to you. We’ll then go over what to do if you or your cat get worms.
How do Cats get Worms?
Indoor and outdoor cats can be infected. Infection can happen through hunting and eating their kill, which includes mice, rats, flies, ticks, mosquitoes, etc. These vermin carry the eggs, and once your cat eats them, they can become infected as the worms hatch and mature. Your cat can also get worms from you, tracking in infested dirt or mud on your shoes. They can also get worms by coming in contact with infected feces. The cat box is a breeding ground for little nasties if it’s not taken care of properly.
Type of Worms That Infect Cats
Several types of internal parasites cause problems in cats.
Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonine. Roundworms live in the intestines and do not require an intermediate host to spread from cat to cat. Instead, they are transmitted by ingesting eggs that are then passed in the feces of an infected cat.
Suppose a kitten becomes infected with a large number of roundworms. A bad infestation can stunt the kitten’s growth and cause severe digestive upset, resulting in excessive gas formation. As a result, these kittens often have a ‘pot-bellied’ appearance. However, these worms aren’t particularly harmful to adult cats.
Roundworms can pose a significant risk to humans. Once a human is infected, the worms can cause eye, lung, heart, and neurologic problems.
Ancylostoma species. Hookworms are one of the most prevalent intestinal parasites of the cat. Hookworms are approximately ½ to 1″ (1-2 cm) long. Hookworms feed on blood by attaching themselves to the lining of the small intestine. Due to feeding on their host’s blood, hookworms can cause severe anemia. The larvae enter the host by mouth or through the skin. Feet are particularly vulnerable. Eczema and other bacterial infection can occur due to irritation as they burrow through the skin.
Hookworms can cause blood loss, weight loss, diarrhea, constipation, dark, tarry stool, coughing, lesions on the paw pads where the worms enter the skin, and sometimes death. Kittens are especially vulnerable. Hookworms live in your cat’s digestive system, and a veterinarian must diagnose them.
Humans can get hookworms from their cats. The most common infection is a skin condition called cutaneous larva migrans. The hookworm penetrates the skin causing raised, red tracks where the larvae have been. At times you can see where the larva has moved. As a result, you may have pain and itching. The itching and discomfort may last several weeks before the larva dies the reaction to them dissipates. Sometimes, certain types of animal hookworms may infect the human intestine and cause abdominal pain, discomfort, and diarrhea in rare cases.
Tapeworms need intermediate hosts, like fleas, birds, or rodents, to complete their life cycle. Cats cannot pass tapeworms to other cats. Dipylidium caninum is the most common cat tapeworm. It causes few problems in the adult cat but can cause digestive upsets and stunt the growth in kittens.
The flea carries Dipylidium. Cats get this species of tapeworm by eating an infected flea.
The Taenia species of tapeworm usually infect adult cats and cause few problems. In this species of worm, rodents, rabbits, and some species of birds play the role of the intermediate host, making this parasite the most common in outdoor cats, which usually hunt these small mammals. Kittens can get infected by eating raw prey. They can become heavily contaminated by tapeworms causing intestinal blocking and death if not caught in time.
The Echinococcus species is zoonotic, meaning it can infect humans. The adult tapeworm is tiny, only about ¼” (5-6 mm) long. Therefore, sheep and sometimes humans can be intermediate hosts for Echinococcus. Cats are at risk for this worm when living close to or with sheep.
Humans can get tapeworms from their cats, but most species can’t live inside the human body. The only species that can is the Echinococcus, and it appears cats and humans can pass them to each other.
How to Prevent and Treat Worms in Your Cat?
The best way to prevent your cat from getting worms is to use year-round preventative medications. Some heartworm medications can also protect your cat from getting roundworms and hookworms. There are medications you can buy over the counter or at your vet’s office. Your vet can also prescribe medication if needed.
Flea medications can play a role in protecting cats from tapeworms because these worms are passed to your cat from fleas. Your veterinarian can help you find options for your pet. It’s also a good idea to keep your cat inside where they can’t hunt animals that may be infected. Also, keeping your cat’s litter box clean can help protect your cat from internal parasites. Taking your cat for a once-a-year screening for worms is also helpful in preventing worms. It will also help if your cat does become infected.
If you can keep your cat worm-free, that means you’ll stay worm-free, and you can allow your cat to sleep with you without worry.
What do I do if I get Worms from my cat?
If you have contracted worms from your cat, there are a couple of options. You can get worm medications over the counter to use, or you can get an appointment with a doctor and get treatment. Either way, worms are easily treated, and you and your cat can be worm-free in a few weeks.
Can you get worms from your cat sleeping in your bed? Yes. However, if you do a year-round treatment to prevent worms and get a yearly screening to ensure your cat hasn’t contracted worms in between treatments and screenings. The good news is that if you and your cat have worms, they can be treated easily in most cases. I hope that this answers your questions about worms and whether you can get worms from your cat. It’s up to you whether or not you allow your cat to continue sleeping in your bed. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.