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Health & Wellness

7 signs your cat might have hookworms

Hookworms can latch to cats’ feet and fur.

When cats roam outdoors, they experience new smells, sights and trees to climb. And even though these outside adventures can be amazing, they risk getting parasites, like hookworms, if not protected.

Hookworms can latch to cats' feet or fur, and once they're inside your cat, they can cause some uncomfortable side effects. Let's make sure your cat goes protected.

What are hookworms? 

“Hookworms are a type of intestinal parasite — a worm — that can live in the small intestines of many different species, including cats,” Dr. Emily Singler, VMD, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. “They’re transmitted when a cat ingests hookworm eggs shed in the stool of other animals.”

Unfortunately, hookworm eggs can live in the environment for a long time; sometimes, they stick to cats’ feet if they walk in infested areas. Humans and other animals can track hookworm eggs into the home, too. Eggs can even live in a feline's fur and get inadvertently ingested when grooming themselves.

“Once inside of the cat, the eggs hatch, and the hookworms attach themselves to the wall of the small intestines and suck blood from the intestine,” Dr. Singler explains. “The adults lay new eggs, which hatch in the body or are shed in the stool to be spread to other animals.”

Hookworm symptoms in cats

It’s unlikely that you’ll miss your cat's hookworm symptoms, as they include vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, weight loss, lethargy and decreased appetite, Dr. Singler shares.

As with any other condition where these symptoms are present, you should call your vet or make an appointment to get your cat checked out.

How can I tell if there are hookworms in my cat’s poop? 

Although symptoms give a pretty good indication of whether or not your cat’s being affected by hookworms, there are cases in which pet parents may see worms in the stool.

“Most of the time, however, worms will not be seen,” Dr. Singler explains. “But eggs can be found on a fecal flotation test performed by a veterinarian or their reference laboratory.”

RELATED: Outdoor cats might be at a higher risk of catching toxoplasmosis

What should I do if I think my cat has hookworms? 

If you think your cat has hookworms, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Try to bring a fecal sample with you, if possible. Your vet can determine if your cat indeed has hookworms or if there’s another underlying problem.  

How to treat hookworms in cats

Don’t fret if your cat is diagnosed with hookworms. According to Dr. Singler, they’re treatable, and veterinarians usually recommend a dewormer to remove the parasites from your feline friend. 

Can I prevent hookworms from affecting my cat? 

Because deworming your pet can be uncomfortable for them, taking steps to prevent your cat from getting hookworms in the first place is the best way to keep them happy and healthy. 

“Hookworms can be prevented with some heartworm preventatives that also have hookworm coverage and with regular doses of dewormer,” Dr. Singler says. 

These kinds of preventatives can be prescribed by or purchased at your vet. “Keeping cats indoors can also lessen the risk, although other animals and humans can still track in eggs on their feet or shoes. Regular fecal checks can catch infestations early and help treat them quickly.”

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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