A reader recently reached out to us from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She discovered an interesting creature on her cat’s food bowl, and also discovered some of the same organisms in her basement. She has done a bit of research on cat parasites and does not think this resembles any of them. She checked her cats for signs of worms but didn’t notice anything suspicious. She thinks it might be a millipede, but only noticed one pair of legs per segment as opposed to the two pairs millipedes are supposed to have. She said the creature is about an inch long. It has a dark brown segmented body and it curls into a ball when threatened. So, is this specimen a millipede, a cat parasite, or something else?
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We are quite confident that our reader is dealing with millipedes. Despite her observation that the creature only had one pair of jointed legs per segment, we still think this is a match. We think that the legs might be so tiny that they are hard to count individually, but we give major props to our reader for trying to count them! All other parts of her description lead us to believe that this is a millipede! For example, as our reader mentioned, millipedes tend to roll up into a C-shape when they are feeling threatened:
Millipedes typically live in leaf litter or decaying wood on forest floors. Inside of homes they gravitate towards dark and damp places, like a basement! Although unsightly, these little arthropods are harmless! If our reader is anxious to see them go, she should attempt to discover where they are sneaking in from. This can be quite a large task since they are small organisms. She should seal any structural gaps between doors, windows, and vents to prevent these creatures from crawling inside. She can also sweep, dust, and vacuum often to keep potential food sources the millipedes might scavenge for at a minimum. If her basement is particularly humid, she also might want to purchase a dehumidifier to make the environment less damp and appealing to the millipedes.
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To conclude, a reader found a worm-like organism on her cat’s food bowl that she thought might be a millipede or a cat parasite. We are confident that it is a millipede, but if she is worried about the health of her cat we encourage her to take it to the vet!