How to Get Rid of Worms in Cats Naturally: Vet-Verified Methods

Dr. Iuliana Mihai, DVM, MSc, PhD
Authored by Iuliana Mihai, DVM, MSc, PhD
Dr. Mihai is an expert in internal medicine and oncology (cancer) with extensive experience in educating pet owners about diseases, treatment, and nutrition.
Dominika Guidoni
Reviewed by a Certified Homeopath, Dominika Guidoni
Dominika has a genuine love for animals and a passion for homeopathy. As a certified homeopath, she helps support the body’s natural processes.

Intestinal worms are one of the most common health problems in cats. These parasites occur in your cat’s feces, sometimes being the only clinical sign.

Other signs can include weight loss, matted fur, and/or bloating. If you see worms in your cat's feces or suspect that your beloved pet has these parasites, contact the vet for proper treatment. However, if you’re not a fan of conventional medicine, you can try natural products or home remedies for intestinal worms that we’ll talk about later. 

In this article, you will learn more about these parasites (types, life cycle, clinical signs) and how to treat and prevent intestinal worms with classic medication, home remedies, or natural products.


What Are Intestinal Worms in Cats?

Photo of a sick cat lying lethargically on the grass in a backyard. The cat looks weak and uncomfortable, highlighting the importance of treating intestinal worms.

Worms are an unpleasant chapter in the life of any cat, but also of their owners. Outdoor cats are the most likely to get intestinal worms from the environment if preventive measures are not taken in time.

However, indoor cats can also become infected with internal parasites, but in very rare cases.

Intestinal worms live in the cat's body in the digestive tract (they are also called endoparasites).

They are harmful because some types of intestinal worms feed on partially digested food and nutrients (vitamins, minerals). As a result, the affected cats no longer have enough nutrients available in their body to develop properly.

Other types of intestinal worms attach to the intestinal wall and feed on blood, in which case they can lead to severe anemia and even the death of the cat if not intervened in time.

Among the most observed clinical signs in infected cats is malnutrition - the cat loses weight, has no appetite, is lethargic, and has matted fur.

The appearance of proglottids (in the case of tapeworms) or even adult worms (e.g., roundworms) in the feces is another sign that can be noticed by the owner. In cases of massive infections, the cat may have a distended abdomen or may even cough up worms.

Keep in mind that some intestinal parasites can also be transmitted to humans, especially children, the elderly, and individuals who have a compromised immune system. For this reason, regular prevention of intestinal worms in pets is recommended.

How Do Cats Get Intestinal Worms

There are many types of intestinal worms in cats, and generally, our pets can become infected when they come into contact with parasitized feces.

However, there is a type of intestinal worm that can be transmitted through the mother’s milk when the kittens are feeding. To understand how cats can get intestinal worms, you first need to know what their life cycle looks like.

Next, we will talk about the different types of intestinal worms in cats, their life cycle (how they are transmitted to cats), and the symptoms they can produce.

Types of Intestinal Worms in Cats

There are four main types of intestinal worms that are most common in cats and can infect them and cause discomfort or even severe illness. These are:

  1. Roundworms
  2. Tapeworms
  3. Hookworms
  4. Whipworms


1. Roundworms
(Toxascaris leonina and Toxocara cati)

This type of worm looks like spaghetti and can reach up to 10 cm in length (4 inches). These parasites live in the cat's small intestine, where they feed on partially digested food.

Roundworms are not dependent on an intermediate host (insects, rodents, birds, or other wild animals) to be transmitted but a cat can become infected if they eat the infected intermediate hosts or their feces.

However, your cat can also get infected if they eat infected feces from another cat. In addition, only Toxocara cati larvae can be transmitted to kittens through the mother's milk. It is called trans-mammary infection or milk-borne infection.

Once ingested and in the digestive system, the eggs hatch into larvae, which turn into adults after several molts.

The clinical signs of roundworms in cats can include the following:

  • Vomiting (sometimes with worms in massive infections)
  • Diarrhea (sometimes with worms in massive infections)
  • Soft stools (sometimes with worms in massive infections)
  • Stomach ache
  • Excessive grooming of the anal area
  • Lethargy
  • Changed behavior
  • Weight loss
  • Distention of the abdomen (pot-bellied appearance)

You can also see your cat coughing up or vomiting worms. This happens because, in massive infestations, the roundworm larvae can migrate into the lungs and other tissues.

If roundworms are not treated, they can lead to severe health problems and even death.


2. Tapeworms 
(Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis)

Tapeworms are another type of intestinal parasite in cats. To complete their life cycle, tapeworms are dependent on an intermediate host. The intermediate hosts for tapeworms are rodents, reptiles, and amphibians. Cats can get infected if they consume these hosts.

Another way for a cat to get infected with tapeworms is by ingesting infected fleas.

Hungry flea larvae can ingest tapeworm eggs from the environment. The tapeworm egg will transform into a larva as the flea matures and becomes an adult. The adult flea will contain the larval tapeworm.

Therefore, a cat that has fleas can infect with tapeworms by ingesting the infected flea while grooming. Once in the cat's digestive system, the flea will be digested, and the tapeworm will be released.

Because they need an intermediate host to complete their life cycle, cats cannot become infected with tapeworms from other cats or dogs.

Not even humans can get infected with tapeworms from their sick cats unless they swallow an infected flea.

As the name suggests, these worms look like long pieces of tape measuring ribbon and can reach up to 70 cm (27 inches).

Their bodies are made up of segments that are produced by the tapeworm’s neck. The segments are called proglottids and contain both male and female reproductive organs.

The tapeworm releases only mature, full of eggs proglottids into the environment (through feces usually), which are similar to a grain of rice or a cucumber seed.

Also, these proglottids have their own movements (you will see them moving in your cat's feces, on the carpet, on the floor, on their fur, around your pet’s anus, etc.).

The common clinical signs of tapeworms in cats include:

  • Matted fur
  • Picky appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Distended abdomen
  • Mild diarrhea 
  • Proglottids in feces
  • Malnutrition and the inability to develop in kittens
  • Intestinal blockages in massive infections (constipation, lethargy, abdominal pain)

3. Hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Ancylostoma braziliense)

These intestinal worms have hook-shaped mouthparts with which they attach to the intestinal mucosa and feed on blood (they are called hematophagous). They are extremely small (approximately 3 mm or 1/8 inch), being almost invisible to the naked eye.

In cats, this type of infection is pretty rare compared to dogs.

A cat can become infected when it consumes feces that contain Ancylostoma larvae or immature worms from another cat or dog or infected cockroaches.

Cats can also become infected with Ancylostoma caninum and Uncinaria stenocephala from dogs, but this happens in rare cases.

A peculiarity of this intestinal worm is the fact that it can be transmitted percutaneously (A. braziliense and A. caninum) - the larvae of these hookworms can penetrate the skin (most often through the skin on the pawpads), migrating in the intestine to become adults and complete their life cycle.

These larvae can also penetrate human skin. Although human infection is rare, it is recommended to wear gloves when you care for or clean the litter box of an infected cat. You should also not walk barefoot.

Clinical signs of hookworm infection in cats may include:

Anemia in kittens especially (pale gums, lethargy, loss of appetite)

  • Digested blood in feces
  • Constipation
  • Matted fur
  •  Weight loss

If the infection is not treated in time, the anemia can become so severe that the kitten can die.


4. Whipworms 
(Trichuris serrata and T. campanula)

As the name suggests, these intestinal worms look like a whip. They present a thin and long extremity, while the other is short and thickened. Its thin portion is the anterior, and the handle of the whip is the end of the worm.

The worms measure between 30 and 50 mm (about 1-2 inches) and feed on blood.

Whipworms don’t need intermediate hosts to complete their life cycle. The eggs are passed through the stool.

Cats become infected when they consume infected feces. The eggs reach the intestinal tract where they become adult worms that can reproduce.

The clinical signs in whipworm infection are usually mild or there can be no signs. In massive infections, you can observe the following:

  • Diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration (due to vomiting and diarrhea)
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal swelling

If these clinical signs occur, treat your cat as soon as possible.

Clinical Signs of Intestinal Worms in Cats

Although I have specified for each type of worm what are the clinical signs that may occur if your cat is infected with one of the species, I will briefly go over them again. Therefore, if your cat has intestinal worms, you may notice the following clinical signs:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Distended abdomen
  • Dull fur
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting worms
  • Pale gums

How Veterinarians Diagnose Intestinal Worms in Cats

Diagnosing intestinal worms is done by the veterinarian or at a reference laboratory after taking a sample from your cat's stool to the veterinary office.

Diagnosis is made by coproparasitological examination (fecal exam).

The technique is called the flotation method through which intestinal parasite eggs can be detected.

Being light, the eggs of these parasites will reach the surface, and the veterinarian or laboratory technician will be able to collect them on a slide and visualize them under a microscope to diagnose the worm's type.

A cat can be infected with several types of intestinal worms at the same time.


Treatment of Intestinal Worms in Cats

It is important to take your cat to the vet when you notice one or more of the above clinical signs.

All types of intestinal worms found in cats can be treated with antiparasitic drugs/deworming medication (oral - tablet, gel, or paste - and topical drugs or injectable treatment).

Most of the time, several treatments are needed to rid your cat of intestinal worms. Some intestinal worms have a different life cycle.

Their larvae can transit muscles or other organs until they find their forever home in the cat's intestine and become adults that can reproduce (and lay eggs).

For this reason, it is necessary to administer two doses of deworming medication (the first dose is repeated after 10-14 days) because they are efficient at the level of the digestive tract.

If the larvae are, for example, in the lungs, it will take up to two weeks to get in the intestine. However, some types of worms can be treated with a single dose.


Natural Deworming Treatments and Preventive Measures for Cats

woman in her mid-30s mixing coconut oil into her cat’s food in a cozy kitchen. The cat is eagerly waiting beside her, showing interest in the food. The scene captures the simplicity and effectiveness of natural treatments for worms.

Some owners do not like the idea of giving their cat chemical substances, therefore, they turn to natural remedies to help their cat get rid of worms. However, make sure you talk to your vet first or at least a pet homeopathy expert.

Some of the natural remedies you can use to help your sick cat are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Diatomaceous earth


Coconut Oil

Although coconut oil cannot kill the intestinal worms, it is a good prevention method. You should mix it with your cat’s usual food, otherwise it can lead to diarrhea. If your cat already has worms, talk to a vet.


Apple Cider Vinegar

Some say it does have effects on intestinal worms, while others do not agree. However, it is certain that several studies are still needed to draw a conclusion. Therefore, it is best to use it as a prevention method.

If you want to give your cat ACV, make sure you mix it with their food or water. You should also make sure your cat does not have any stomach issues.


Diatomaceous Earth

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for cats both externally and internally. If you want your cat to be flea-free, you can use diatomaceous earth on their fur. It is also said that it can help with worms in cats but make sure you give the proper amount.


Other Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, you can reduce the risk of your cat becoming infected with intestinal worms through the following preventive measures:

  • Regular deworming of your cat – even if your cat shows no signs of illness, it is important to deworm them regularly (depending on their age and lifestyle).

  • Limit your cat's access to the outside – limiting access to the outside environment can reduce exposure to fleas and ticks, but also to other animals, insects, or animal feces that can transmit intestinal parasites.

  • Practice good hygiene – clean your litter box daily and wash your hands right afterwards.

  • Inspect your cat regularly - periodically check the skin and fur for fleas and ticks and look for signs of intestinal parasites. If you notice any changes, take them to the vet.


Homeopathic Product for Cats

If you’re more into homeopathy and super natural products, then maybe Parasites and Worms product from Zumalka is for you.

This product contains fern (Filix mas) and cat thyme (Teucrium marum) and other natural ingredients that are designed to boost your pet’s immune system and digestive health and also help treat intestinal worms. 

If your cat has tapeworms, Filix mas 30k is an effective plant, especially if your cat has symptoms such as nausea, abdominal discomfort, and weakness. 

Teucrium marum 30k is a plant effective in treating various types of intestinal worms and symptoms such as anal and nose itching.

Zumalka’s product, Parasites and Worms also contains other wonderful natural ingredients, such as Abrotanum 30k, Cina 30k, Granatum 30k, Sabadilla 30k, Spigelia 30k, and Natrum Phos 6x. 

  • Abrotanum 30k is effective in treating various types of intestinal worms and symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and weakness. 

  • Cina 30k is a good ingredient for relieving anal itching; it also helps with restlessness and irritability.  

  • Granatum 30k is effective in treating tapeworms and symptoms such as  digestive issues and general weakness.

  • Sabadilla 30k is effective on roundworms and can help with clinical signs such as anal itching, nausea, and abdominal pain.

  • Spigelia 30k is an ingredient suited for intestinal worms that cause sharp pain in the rectum and abdomen. 

  • Natrum Phos. 6x is suited for overall gut health - it helps with gastric acidity and bloating, creating an alkaline environment. 

This product should only be used as a treatment method and not as prevention.


Conclusion 

Intestinal worms in cats are very common, and you don’t need to panic if your cat gets them.  As mentioned in the article, prevention is always better than cure. However, if your cat gets intestinal worms, Parasites and Worms product from Zumalka is a good start to treat them. This product should be given only when your cat has worms; it is a treatment, not a prevention method.

Moreover, ensure you always protect yourself and your family members as some of these worms can transmit to humans, especially children, immunocompromised persons, and the elderly.

 


About the author

Dr. Iuliana Mihai, DVM, MSc, PhD
Dr. Iuliana Mihai, DVM, MSc, PhD

Iuliana Mihai, DVM, MSc, PhD, is a Bucharest-based veterinary expert specializing in internal medicine and oncology.

Her work has been published in reputable publications such as Veterinary Medicine Journal, Catster.com, Dogster.com, Hepper.com, Meowiz.com, Springnaturals.com, Petkeen.com, and Wilderharrier.com.

She is a malpractice and negligence veterinary consultant and a graduate of The University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine and The Romanian Academy.

Read the complete profile of Dr. Iuliana Mihai, DVM, MSc, PhD (Veterinarian) here.


4 comments


  • Zumalka May 10, 2023 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for your great question, Sandra. Our remedies can be put in your cat’s water bowl, we don’t recommend mixing them with food. We sent you a private email to help you find the right product for your cat. We hope to hear back from you soon !


  • Sandra May 10, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    My feral cat will not let me pick her up. What can I,put in her food for worms? She drags her butt on the floor. Seems to not feel good but eats good.


  • Michelle Chisholm August 16, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    Do worms die after your cat ejects them?


  • Camilla A Ramsey June 10, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    I have a older cat very sick. I have dewormer from the vet it’s a year old will it still do the job


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