Hookworm in cats: What do you need to know?
Hookworms are intestinal parasites typically found in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Kittens are most at risk for contracting this parasite, although any cat that comes into contact with contaminated soil or faeces or hunts and eats small animals (e.g. birds, mice, lizards), can become infected as well.
How do cats become infected with hookworm?
Cats encounter this parasite via the faeces of an infected cat. The eggs found in infected cats’ droppings will hatch into larvae that can survive in the soil for weeks. Other cats can either eat these larvae (for example, if soil gets on to their paws and they groom themselves), or the larvae can migrate into the cat’s paws directly from the soil before making their way through the cat’s body to the intestine. Another common route of infection in outdoor cats that hunt, is by eating the hookworm larvae in the tissues of other infected animals.
Once inside your cat’s intestines, hookworm larvae mature into adult hookworms which lay eggs, and the cycle starts all over again. Worming treatments starting at six weeks of age are essential to keeping a kitten healthy.
Hookworm symptoms in cats
The signs of hookworm in cats can vary. If a cat carries low numbers of worms, they may not show any signs at all. Higher worm numbers can be associated with anaemia (because the worms feed on blood), blood in the stool, a dull coat and weight loss. These signs tend to be more common and more serious in affected kittens than in adult cats. In heavy infestations, skin irritation on the feet can be seen, as hookworm larvae can invade the skin through a cat’s feet.
If you suspect a hookworm infection in your cat or kitten, take them to a vet. Take the vet a sample of your cat’s stool to be analysed under the microscope, looking for hookworm eggs.
Treating cats for hookworm
Regular worming is key to making sure your cat stays healthy and free of worms. Treatments such as Advocate®, Profender Allwormer® and Drontal® for cats kill hookworms in cats. Learn more about the different types of worms these products protect against in our complete guide to worms.