Roundworm in Cats

Roundworms are one of the most common of intestinal parasites affecting cats. Learn how cats get roundworm and how to treat an infected cat.

Kitten with Roundworm

Dear Simba,
I have 3 kittens, their mother and a small dog. One of the kittens threw up several, 3 1/2-inch worms. They were long, round and thin. They seemed to curl up when they hit the air. Do I have to get rid of these cats to make sure my children and dog do not get sick? If not please tell me what I should do. - Worried

Hi Worried,
You absolutely do not have to get rid of the cats. This is a common situation and perfectly treatable.

Based on what you have said it is possible that your kitten may have Roundworm (if he has it his siblings and mother may be similarly infected). Below is some information and useful tips to get this situation corrected.

What are Roundworms?

Roundworms are 3 to 5 inches long, cream-colored and live in the intestines. They are amongst the most common of intestinal parasites (according to the Cornell Feline Health Center, 25% to 75% of cats get it). They sometimes curl up and can look like spaghetti. If present in large numbers, they can cause intestinal blockage.

How do cats get Roundworm?

Cats typically become infected by ingesting eggs or by eating rodents that carry the roundworm larvae (kittens can become infected through their mother's milk).

Roundworms can be transmitted to children if they have ingested larvae. The larvae can be found in dirt, kitty litter, feces or vomit...Therefore it is very important to thoroughly clean all areas where the larvae could have been expelled.

How do you Treat Roundworm in cats?

Roundworms can be life threatening to kittens if left untreated so it is important that any affected cats get started on a treatment plan...Check your dog for worms also..

Treatment often involves using worming medicine, some of which are available over-the-counter.
roundworm in cats and kittens
Roundworm Lifecycle

Many de-wormers work by anesthetizing the roundworm so that it lets go of its grip on the intestine and passes with the cat's stool. Because many medications affect adult roundworms, treatment needs to be repeated to deal with any leftover larvae as they mature. This is usually done at 2 week intervals. The number of treatments necessary depends on the cat's age and circumstances (talk to your vet about your kittens).

Because fleas play an important part in the roundworm lifecycle it is important to regularly check your cats for fleas. Also, be sure that any wormer you buy is marked as safe for nursing mothers, should momma cat be nursing. Also, clean your floors, carpets and furniture thoroughly since the eggs can survive for months in the environment. The risk of infection is lower now that you know. This is a treatable condition. Simba

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