My Indoor Cat

Can Indoor Cats Get Worms? Understand the Types and Risks to Your Cat

Can Indoor Cats Get Worms

Keeping your cat indoors can protect them from many dangers. Unfortunately, intestinal parasites aren’t one of them. If you keep your cat solely inside your home, you might wonder, can indoor cats get worms? The short answer is yes. Even if your cat never goes outside, it can contract worms through various means.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of worms that can affect indoor cats, how they get them, and what you can do to prevent and treat this common issue.

How do indoor cats get worms?

How do indoor cats get worms

I was amazed that even cats living inside could pick up worms. When hunting, indoor cats can pick up parasites and worms when they catch and devour rodents or insects such as flies, mosquitos, cockroaches, fleas, and other household pests that harbor worm eggs.

Mice and the common house fly are two of the many pests that can carry roundworm eggs. Worms can be passed to kittens by their mother’s milk. So, it is important to treat indoor cats regularly for worms. 

What Kind of Worms Can Indoor Cats Get?

Worms are parasites that can infect cats and cause various health issues. Here are the different types of worms that affect indoor cats:


Can Indoor Cats get worms - Roundworms

Roundworms are round, off-white, 3-6 inches long, and one of the most common parasites to affect cats. They are present in the cats small intestine and lay thousands of eggs daily. These eggs can be found in the feces of infected animals and can survive for many years.

Cats can pick up roundworms when they ingest the eggs by eating something from an infected environment or host. Kittens can get roundworms from their mothers when suckling for milk. 


tapeworms in cat hair in indoor cat

Tapeworms are long, segmented intestinal parasites that attach to the intestine using hook-like mouthparts. Cats get infected with tapeworms by accidentally eating infected fleas, who are a host for tapeworm larvae.

Certain species of tapeworms have rats or mice as intermediate hosts. So, if your cat consumes an infected rodent that finds its way into your home, it could get tapeworms. If your cat has tapeworms, you may notice segments that look like grains or rice on the hair around its anus, feces, or cat bed.

The image above shows a tapeworm in a cat’s fur.


Can Indoor Cats get worms - Hookworms

Hookworms are blood-sucking intestinal parasites that burrow into the skin and cause severe anemia and even sudden death. Your house cat can become infected by eating the eggs from its environment or by eating an infected host, such as a rodent or lizard.


Heartworms are potentially deadly parasites that reside in your cat’s heart and major vessels. It is a common misconception that only outdoor cats are at risk of heartworm disease. Indoor cats can get infected with heartworms, too, if they get bitten by an infected mosquito. 

As we know from experience, it is not difficult for mosquitos to enter our homes! Speak to your vet about annual heartworm vaccinations.


Can Indoor Cats get worms - lungworms

A lungworm is a parasitic worm that inhabits the lungs and small airways of the cat’s respiratory system and causes damage. Although lungworm infection in indoor cats is far less common than outdoor cats, they can still get them through infected animals such as snails, lizards, and rodents. 

Kittens can get infected through the milk of an infected mother, and indoor cats can get infected by consuming infected mice or lizards during hunting. House cats can also get infected by licking or chewing larvae you may have brought home on your clothes or shoes from outside.


Whipworms are harmful intestinal parasites that live in the caecum and colon of your cat. They can contract whipworm infection by ingesting contaminated material, e.g., food and water. 

What are the symptoms of worms in cats?

How did my indoor cat get worms

Cats infected with worms are not always easy to spot as they show no clinical symptoms or signs because they are highly non-specific. However, here are some of the signs to tell if your cat has intestinal worms:

  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Skin lesions
  • Poor coat health
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Distended abdomen
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite

How are worms in cats diagnosed?

If you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above or suspect worms in your cat, make an appointment to take your cat to your vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Your vet will take a thorough clinical examination of your cat along with taking a history, which should give your vet enough information to diagnose the type of worms and provide you with the proper treatment. They may recommend fecal tests to identify the type.

Treating Worms in Indoor Cats

How often to worm indoor cats

After diagnosing, depending on the type, your vet will prescribe dewormers that may be oral or injectable to treat the infestation. Your cat may require multiple doses to be administered carefully, depending on the severity of the disease. These are designed to get rid of worms in cats. 

Your vet may also recommend flea preventives for preventing the worm infestation that may have caused them. Ensure you follow your vet’s instructions carefully when administering medication to your cat. Overdosing or underdosing can be harmful to your cat’s health.

How can I prevent my cat from getting worms?

The best way to prevent worms in your cat is by taking preventive medication prescribed by your vet, along with other precautionary measures that include;

  • Use a disinfectant to wash the litter box; if you have multiple cats indoors, they can contract worms by sharing a litter box
  • Ensure that your cat’s food and water bowls are clean and not contaminated
  • Removing the feces daily from their litter tray
  • Controlling fleas and mice i.e., intermediate hosts within your home
  • Seek advice from your local vet as to which worm products they recommend for your cat and how often they should be administered.

When you go to your vet for your cat’s yearly health checkup, you can ask them to include a fecal float test to identify the presence of worms, if any.

My vet recommended that our cats have quarterly worming tablets to free them from these parasites. We suggest you speak to your local vet for advice on how often to worm your cat.

 Frequently Asked Questions About Indoor Cats Getting Worms

indoor cats get worms

How do indoor cats get worms?

Even if your cat lives indoors, it can become infected by a variety of sources, such as eating infected prey, ingesting contaminated soil or water, or through flea infestations or mosquito bites. Kittens can also become infected by their mothers during nursing.

What are the symptoms of worms in cats? 

Symptoms of worms in cats can include vomiting or diarrhea, weight loss, a distended abdomen, anemia, coughing, lethargy, itchy bottom, and visible worms in their feces or around their anus.

How can I prevent my indoor cat from getting worms?

There are several steps you can take to prevent your cat from getting worms, such as using a regular flea treatment to prevent flea infestation, ensuring that your cat’s food and water bowls are clean and not contaminated, regularly cleaning and disinfecting your cat’s litter tray, having your cat checked regularly by a vet and where possible, discouraging your cat from hunting or eating prey, especially rodents such as mice.

How often should I deworm my indoor cat?

The frequency of deworming your cat will depend on various factors such as age, overall health, and lifestyle. My indoor cats are healthy, aged 5 and 4 years, and my vet recommends treating them every 3-4 months. However, it’s best to consult with your vet, who can advise on the best deworming schedule for your cat.

What medications are used to treat cats?

Some common parasite preventions used to treat worms in cats included fenbendazole, praziquantel, pyrantel, and milbemycin. Your vet will prescribe the most appropriate treatment option based on the type of worm your cat has. Do not self-diagnose, as you could kill your cat.

Can I use over-the-counter deworming medication for my cat?

It is not recommended to use over-the-counter deworming medication for your cat. Some medications can be very harmful to your cat’s health if not administered correctly. You may inadvertently make your cat worse or be treating them for the wrong type of worm. It is best to consult with your vet, who can prescribe the most appropriate medication and provide guidance on the correct dosage.

Can humans get worms from their indoor cats?

While it is rare, cat worms can infect humans if they come into contact with infected feces or soil. It is important to practice good hygiene and regularly wash your hands after handling your cat or cleaning their litter tray to minimize the risk of infection.

What should I do if I suspect my indoor cat has worms?

If you suspect that your cat has worms, it is important to take them to the vet immediately to determine what kind of worms they have and get a proper treatment plan. Your vet may recommend fecal tests to identify the worm and prescribe a medication to treat the infestation.

Keeping your indoor-only cats worm-free is crucial for their overall health and well-being. By taking preventative measures and seeking veterinary care when necessary, you can keep your cat healthy and happy.

If you suspect your cat has worms, do not hesitate to seek medical attention from a qualified vet. You can help your feline friend live a long and healthy life by staying vigilant and proactive.

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