How to Know If a Kitten Has Round Worms

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Roundworm infections are common in young kittens that do not have a fully effective immune system. They can be transmitted through their mother's milk if she is infected, and they can be ingested when the kitten walks on or plays in soil, then licks itself. Since roundworm infections are typically more serious in kittens than they are in adult cats, it's important to look for early signs and to get proper veterinary care.

Things You'll Need

  • Weight scale
  • Rubber gloves

How to Identify Roundworms in Cats

Notice if the kitten appears to be unhappy, unkempt and disheveled. Roundworms are painful and make for miserable cats. A kitten that seems unhappy, tired and doesn't want to be touched may have roundworms.

Look for worms in the kitten's vomit or diarrhea. A lot of times, if a cat or kitten has an upset stomach they will induce vomiting by overeating, or eating certain plants like grass and flowers. Worms will sometimes be present in the vomit; they look like spaghetti and may be up to six inches long. Diarrhea occurs when the kitten's body recognizes the parasite and attempts to flush it out.

Feel and look at the kitten's belly. A kitten's belly takes on a swollen appearance. This usually occurs only with moderate to severe infections, but it is the hallmark sign of a roundworm infection.

Weigh the kitten. Weight loss generally begins to be noticeable and the kitten will look all around quite unhealthy.

Have a vet test feces for roundworm eggs. The detection of eggs in the kitten's feces leads to a positive diagnosis.

Tips & Warnings

  • Since other conditions could possibly cause similar symptoms, taking the kitten to a veterinarian is the only definitive way to diagnose roundworms. Early diagnosis requires a careful eye, as cats are often asymptomatic (that is, they show no symptoms) until the infection is moderate to severe. A regular monthly deworming of your kittens is a great way to prevent any type of worm infection.
  • Don't touch roundworms, vomit, or diarrhea with bare hands. Some species of roundworms are contagious, so if they are found, be sure not to let children play in sandboxes and wear gloves when digging in the garden. A roundworm infection in a kitten will be more serious than one in an adult cat. Take your kitten to the vet at the first signs of unhappiness or poor health to avoid serious problems such as stunted growth or malnutrition.

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