Can Worms Affect Cat Behavior?
Any pet owner can tell you that dealing with worms is no fun. These insidious little pests find their way into your dog or cat and can cause all sorts of havoc.
Worms cause health issues, but can worms affect cat behavior? Today we look at how something so small can cause such huge issues.
What Are Worms?
When we are talking about worms, it’s important to distinguish between the different types of worms a cat can get. Normally, there are three different types of worms a cat can contract.
- Roundworm – Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites a cat can get. It is extremely easy for both cats and dogs to become infected by roundworms, so a preventative treatment is always recommended.
- Hookworm – Hookworms attach themselves to the intestinal lining of your cat and feed on their blood. They then pass their eggs into the intestine to be expelled by your cat later, thus infecting their environment. If not taken care of, hookworms can literally leach a cat to death.
- Tapeworm – These worms are thin and wide. They are also segmented, and each segment has its own reproductive system. This makes getting rid of them quite a chore.
What Causes Worms?
The thing about cats is that they are very independent. Cats commonly like to leave their home to go out on the hunt for food. The problem with your cat leaving the house is that you might not know what kind of trouble they are getting into or what food they are eating.
Worms commonly enter a cat’s body through their food. Worms sometimes live in another animal’s feces. This can cause a direct infection if your cat meets it. A cat can also get infected indirectly. If a cat consumes an animal that is infected, the worms can wait inside the intermediate host and infect the cat.
For the most part, cats will get infected by consuming worms. Cats can also get infected by a mother’s milk if the mother is also infected.
Can Worms Affect Cat Behavior?
You’re right to wonder about behavior changes in an infected cat. You can notice real behavior changes which include:
- Lethargy – A cat who is infected by worms shows this by becoming lethargic. An infection means that worms might be literally sapping the blood from your cat. This will make your cat’s body have to work that much harder. Even if the worm is not feeding on your cat directly, they can be taking nutrition from your cat’s undigested food and take their energy that way. Either way, your cat will not be receiving enough nutrition to maintain their normal lifestyle.
- Itching Their Bottom – While dogs are commonly thought of to be rubbing their bums on the carpet, your cat can have the same symptoms. If your cat scratching at their bottom, or if they are rubbing their bottom on the floor, this can be a symptom of a worm infection. This is also a great way to spread the infection, so be sure to deal with it immediately.
How to Get Rid of Worms
The easiest way to not have worms is to prevent worms. Your vet can talk to you about their preferred methods of deworming. Home remedies for deworming include:
- Pumpkin seed
- Apple cider vinegar
These alternative products all have reasons for why they could work, but nothing is going to work as well as a prescription medication.
Your vet will administer a deworming medication either orally or through a shot. This medication basically causes the worms to disintegrate while in your cat’s intestine. This means you likely will not see evidence of them leaving your cat. They’ll simply be broken down while inside your cat.
While medicine can help your cat once infected, the best option is to prevent the worms in the first place. Most often, cats get worms from fleas. If you have an inside cat, be sure to de-flea their living area as well. Just one flea could start a worm infection again. The ickiest part is that if you have fleas in your home, you or your family can end up getting worms too. Do what you must to ensure your home is free from infection.
If your cat gets infected with worms, it’s not the end of the world. But be sure to deal with it immediately as worms will weaken your cat. Properly dealt with, your cat will make a full recovery in no time.