June 05, 2024 | Cat

Feline Worms and Flea & Worm Treatment for Cats Explained by a Vet

Worms are parasites that cats get by accidentally ingesting their eggs and, without regular treatment, most cats catch them at some point in their lives. The two main types of internal worms commonly seen in cats are tapeworms and roundworms.


Tapeworms are long and flat and attach themselves to the wall of the cat’s gut, and your cat may pass these out as segments.


Roundworms are more common and look like earthworms, but they are white in colour.


Cats may also suffer from lungworms, but this is quite rarely seen in cats in the UK and is usually less severe than its canine counterpart.

A vet assessing a cat for worms

How can cats get infected by roundworms?

Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite in cats and kittens. Eggs from these worms are passed into the faeces and can live for years in the soil. Cats become infected by:

  • Ingesting eggs directly from contaminated soil

  • Consumption of a rodent, such as a rat, who has previously eaten worm eggs from the environment

  • Ingestion by kittens of the larvae of worms in their mother’s milk. It is through this route that most newborn kittens become infected

How can cats get infected by tapeworms?

Tapeworms are segmented worms. These segments are regularly shed in faeces and resemble grains of rice. Sometimes they can be seen crawling around a cat’s anus.

To complete their life cycle, an intermediate host is required to consume their eggs from the environment. Cats then either eat this intermediate host (for example a rodent) and become infected themselves, or the transmission of worms can be through fleas acting as the intermediate host - meaning that if your cat requires treatment for fleas, it is sensible to also worm them with a suitable product, such as Panacur Worming Granules.

What are the common signs of worms in cats?

So, what are the common signs that your cat may have worms? Here are some of the most common symptoms you can look out for if you suspect your cat may have worms:

  • Unexplained weight loss but with a distended, or pot, belly

  • Coarse fur and a change in the condition of their coat from shiny to dull

  • Gastric disturbances including an unusual pattern for toileting, or diarrhoea for example

  • Scooting their bottom along the floor due to the irritating sensation of the worms wriggling about. You may even see worm segments on your cat's anus or in their bed

  • Lethargy and generally an “out of sorts” feeling

How are feline worms treated?

If you suspect your cat has worms, how do you go about treating it?

Prevention is always better than cure, and so ensure that your cat has regular worm and flea treatment as a preventative measure, rather than waiting for the problem to develop. This is particularly true for outdoor cats, or those who are good hunters.

There are a number of different worming products out there, some of which are available on prescription only (from your vet). Others are less stringently controlled and can be purchased either over-the-counter or off-the-shelf, depending upon their legal category. Treatments also come in different formulations from tablets and pastes, to liquids and spot-ons, so this may be a factor in choosing your preferred product.

It is also important to treat all animals in your household with a suitable product to try and minimise the risk of infection.

Can humans pick up worms from their cats?

The horrible fact is that feline roundworms can pose a risk to human health. Contact with cat faeces, or contaminated soil can result in transmission of the parasite to people through ingestion of eggs or larvae. Try and eliminate this risk by emptying cat litter trays daily, wearing gloves if you’re a gardener, and not letting your children play in sand pits which have not been covered when not in use (meaning that infected cats may have toileted in there).

Thoughts from a vet:

Dr Rachel Louise Keane BVSc BSc MRCVS says you should be organised when it comes to worms and worm treatments:

“My take-home message on this subject is to get organised, decide which product best suits your situation, and use it regularly as stated in the manufacturer's guidelines. Keep a diary to ensure doses aren’t forgotten or lapsed, and if you have wormed your cat, but he or she is still showing the signs of worms, a visit to the vet would be sensible to make sure there is nothing more serious affecting the health of your cat.”

Medically reviewed by:


Cat Worms: Symptoms and De-Worming Treatment | Purina

Worms in cats | Our complete guide | Cats Protection

Worms in cats - PDSA

Worms in Cats | PetMD

Our Happy Cat

Fleas & Worms (cats.org.uk)