Roundworms are long thin worms resembling beansprouts or spaghetti. The normal route of infection is by ingesting worm eggs picked up from the soil when the cat goes to the toilet. The eggs are passed in large numbers in the faeces of infected cats and can survive for up to 3 years in the environment. Kittens can also pick up the worms via their mother’s milk.
Tapeworms can be up to 50cm long in the cat’s intestine although normally the only sign are the dried segments (which resemble rice grains) stuck to the fur around the cat’s anus. These segments are packed full of eggs, which are ingested by flea larvae or rodents depending on the type of worm. Cats then become infected with worms by eating fleas while grooming or by hunting mice, voles or rabbits.
In kittens an infection of worms can be very dangerous. Signs tend to be a pot belly, slow growth, vomiting and diarrhoea or even a rectal prolapse.
In adults the signs tend not to be so severe although they can cause an upset tummy and weight loss.
All animals are best wormed regularly with a multi-wormer to ensure they stay clear of infection, every 2 weeks for kittens, every 3 months for cats over 6 months old.
Drontal cat tablets or Milbemax cat tablets are the most effective multi-worming treatment, Panacur paste or granules are useful for kittens under 12 weeks as they only tend to have roundworms at that age.
We can also use a topical multi-parasite treatment called Advocate which will kill fleas, mites and roundworms. As it doesn't treat tapeworms we still need to use an oral tablet regularly in hunting cats.