There are several different kinds of feline worms, none of which live outside the body. If a worm has been spotted on your cat’ss skin or in its hair, chances are it became stuck there in any number of different ways. It’s possible that the worm exited the body through the cat’s feces or it became stuck on a piece of furniture (very common with tapeworms) after the cat sat down. The cat may have rubbed it’ss head or body on the furniture after sitting or lying down — as most cats do. Feline worms can also exit the body through the cat’s vomit or even hairballs.
The only types of parasites that can be found on cats hair and skin include external parasites such as fleas, ticks, ear mites, and ringworm. The word “ringworm” can be deceiving, however, because ringworm is not actually a worm, but rather a fungal disease of the skin and hair. Ringworm (Dermatophytosis) is extremely contagious to humans and other animals. Unfortunately, in many cases, cats may be carrying ringworm without showing any symptoms. They can transfer it to humans very easily and without you even knowing it. Undetected ringworm is more common in longhaired cats as it is much easier to hide.
The other types of parasites that can be found in cat’s bodies include: roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, lungworms, and in rare cases, whipworms. Roundworms (Ascarids) are passed to kittens directly through the mother while the kitten is still in the uterus. Roundworms are coiled, long, and white in color. Roundworms can be treated through medication obtained from your vet.
Tapeworms (Cestodes) enter your cat’s body through fleas. This means, your cat must eat a flea (the tapeworms intermediate host) to become infected. A tapeworm has a long flat body made up of segments. It lives in the intestines of cats and dogs and infestations can be eliminated fairly easily with medication. Hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma braziliense) are one of the most dangerous types of worms to kittens. They have hook-like teeth that attach to the cats intestines and they suck blood. If you suspect that your cat has hookworms, contact your vet immediately for treatment. Lungworms (Dictyocaulus arnfieldi) are probably the most difficult type of worm to detect. The only visible symptoms a cat will experience are coughing and difficulty breathing.
Whipworm (Trichuris vulpis, Trichuris campanula) is more common in dogs that cats. The animal becomes infected with whipworm through food or water contaminated with whipworm eggs. The eggs hatch in three months and they burrow their heads into the walls of the large intestine where they feed on your pets blood. Symptoms of whipworm may include diarrhea, loss of weight, and anemia. In some cases, there are no symptoms at all. Currently there are more than a dozen different types of medications to treat whipworm, so contact your vet for details.
Depending on the type of worm infection, oral and topical medications may be prescribed to rid the cat’s body from any parasites. It is important to have all animals in the home tested for parasites, even if only one pet shows symptoms. It’s best to thoroughly clean all fabrics and furniture that the pet has come in contact with, especially in the case of external parasites, or simply discard everything the pet has come in contact with and buy fresh linens and furniture.
If you prefer to use alternative methods of treatment for your pet, there are a number of homeopathic remedies available to treat internal and external parasites. Your vet may have recommendations or you can visit any number of holistic/homeopathic or natural online pet stores.