what worms can my cat get

What worms can my cat get

You may not be able to see them (thankfully!), but worms are a very real threat to your cat and family’s health. Lurking in your cat’s guts, intestinal worms feed on your cat’s food or blood, so let’s find out more about these horrible beasties.



Roundworms in cats


Key Facts:
  • Toxocara is the most common roundworm, potentially affecting nearly 2 million cats in the UK1,2
  • 1 adult female roundworm can produce a whopping 200,000 eggs a day! (And we thought fleas were prolific egg layers!)3
What do cat roundworms look like?

Resembling strands of spaghetti, adult Toxocara roundworms are whiteish brown in colour and 4-10cm long, although you’re unlikely to see them, as they hang out in your cat’s guts. Sometimes you’ll see them in your cat’s poop though, especially after worming.


what worms can my cat get

How does my cat get roundworm?

These gruesome beasties can infect kittens via their Mum’s milk, which is why a good worming programme for breeding queens and kittens is so vital.   


Your cat can also pick up roundworms when out and about in their normal daily routine if they have access to the great outdoors. Infective eggs lurk in soil, having been pooped out by other infected cats – surviving for years in the right conditions. Roundworm larvae can also be found in small mammals and birds – so if your cat is a hunter, this can be another source of infection.


What symptoms do roundworms cause in cats? 

Roundworms can cause serious issues for kittens, from vomiting, diarrhoea and a pot belly, through to a life-threatening gut obstruction. In older cats, you may not see any symptoms, but your cat will be shedding eggs in their poop, which puts your family at risk.


Can cat roundworms infect humans? 

Unfortunately, yes they can, and it is thought that one-quarter of the UK and Irish population have been exposed to Toxocara spp.4 Although the long-term impact of Toxocara in people isn’t fully known, it has been linked with blindness, epilepsy, cognitive development delays in children, and asthma4 – children, the elderly and immunosuppressed are most at risk.


It is recommended by the experts at the European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP), that cats living with these groups should be wormed monthly. It takes time for the infective life stages of worms to develop into adults, so monthly treatment means that the worms don’t get a chance to start producing eggs, reducing the health threat to your cat, as well as your family and friends.




Tapeworms in cats


Key Facts: 
  • Can grow to be a real beast inside your fur baby…the most common species found in cats, Dipylidium caninum, can reach up to 70cm in length5
  • Tapeworms are made up of little segments (look like grains of rice), which get shed …these can be seen ‘crawling’ around your pet’s back end or on their bed (we know, it’s vomit-inducing!) and contain egg packets – GROSS


What do cat tapeworms look like? 

The most common, D. caninum, can grow to be VERY long inside your cat’s gut, however, you’ll usually just see the ‘grains of rice’ segments crawling around.


what worms can my cat get

How does my cat get tapeworm? 

D.caninum is also known as the flea tapeworm as your cat becomes infected when they eat fleas (yep, those pesky little blighters again!) which are carrying tapeworm eggs. You may not think your feline friend would eat a flea, but it’s actually pretty easily done when you lick and nibble to groom yourself – plus when your fur-baby is super itchy with fleas, they’ll be doing it even more! So, flea prevention also plays an important role in D. caninum control. This is an important one for indoor cats too – because fleas can hitch a ride into your home on clothing, your cat can actually be at risk from the flea tapeworm, even if they never venture outside!


Your cat can pick up other types of tapeworm if they hunt, scavenge or eat raw meat and offal.


What symptoms do tapeworms cause in cats? 

Tapeworms often won’t cause any symptoms in your cat, although you may see the gross little segments crawling around.




Hookworms in cats


Key Facts: 
  • Can lurk in your pet’s intestine for up to 2 years!6
How does my cat get hookworm? 

Your cat can become infected by eating hookworm larvae which live in eggs in the soil, or through eating small mammals or birds which have eaten hookworm eggs.


What symptoms do hookworms cause in cats? 

As these horrible beasts latch onto the lining of your cat’s guts and feed on blood, they can cause blood loss, as well as diarrhoea and weight loss.




Whipworms in cats


Key Facts: 
  • Whipworms bury themselves into the lining of your pet’s gut, causing inflammation – ouch!


How does my cat get whipworm? 

Cats can pick up whipworms by eating infective eggs, which are in the soil.


What symptoms do whipworms cause in cats? 

If your poor feline friend has a heavy infection, you may see bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and signs of blood loss.



Treating intestinal worms in cats 

So, as you can see, these little blighters get everywhere and are pretty easy for your four-legged friend to pick up in their normal daily lives. ‘Ridaworm tablets for cats’ kill all types of intestinal worms that affect UK cats, in a flavoured tablet. As no treatment can prevent your cat from picking up these horrors, regular treatment is key to protecting both your feline and human family.

what worms can my cat get


Learn more about treating dog worms with Ridaworm here.





  1. Wright I, Stafford K et al. The prevalence of intestinal nematodes in cats and cats from Lancashire, North-west England. Journal of Small Animal Practice (2016) 57, 393–395
  2. PFMA data, 9 million cats in the UK, 7.5 million cats –
  3. Khoshsima-Shahraki M, Dabirzadeh M, Azizi H, Khedri J, Djahed B, Neshat AA. Seroepidemiology of Toxocara canis in Children under 14 Years Referring to Laboratories of Sistan and Baluchestan Province in Southeast of Iran. Iran J Parasitol. 2019;14(1):89-94.
  4. Airs, Paul M et al. “WormWatch: Park soil surveillance reveals extensive Toxocara contamination across the UK and Ireland.” The Veterinary record vol. 192,1 (2023): e2341. doi:10.1002/vetr.2341