Cats, like many other animals, can be infected with worms. This is something that many cat owners will have to deal with at some point during their lives. If your cat has a worm infestation and sleeps in your bed, you may be wondering if you can get worms from them.
First, your cat has to be infected with worms for this to be possible. If your cat does not have any parasites¹, internal or external, and does not go outside, sleeping in your bed will not transmit any parasites to you. If your cat has a parasite, you will likely know it. Your vet should check your cat for signs of parasites at their annual checkups, and there are other signs to watch for.
However, if your cat does have worms, there is a possibility that they can be transferred to you in your bed. This is rare but it can happen. In this article, we explore how the transmission occurs and what types of worms your cat can have.
How Do Cats Get Worms?
Cats can get worms by ingesting worm eggs. They may also eat prey that is infected with worms, getting the infection themselves. Cats are curious and will investigate anything, especially if they have access to the outdoors.
If they walk through contaminated feces and then lick their paws, that’s all it takes to swallow a worm egg and become infected. Fleas may also transfer worm eggs from cat to cat, so keeping your cat parasite free year-round is important.
How Can You Tell If a Cat Has Worms?
Your vet may notice worms in a fecal exam during your cat’s annual visit. Other signs include a few obvious ones, like seeing worms in a cat’s feces. If you notice long worms that resemble spaghetti or small worms that look like sesame seeds in your cat’s litter box, your cat needs prompt treatment.
Weight loss and excessive eating or drinking are other signs of a worm infestation. The worms feed on the food that your cat eats, robbing them of the nutrients that they need. Your cat will not be able to eat enough food to feel satisfied and will lose weight even while continuing to eat more and more.
In some cases, your cat won’t have an appetite at all and lose alarming amounts of weight.
How Could I Get Worms From My Cat?
Humans get worms the same way that cats do: by coming in contact with worm eggs and ingesting them. This will rarely happen because you don’t groom your cat with your tongue or ingest their feces.
The way that cats can transfer worms to humans is by close contact. If your cat is close to your face and a worm egg is on their fur, it’s possible that this egg can be transferred to your face and swallowed by you. This can also happen if the eggs fall from the cat onto your pillowcase or bedding. The eggs have to make it to your mouth for you to get worms, so you could touch an egg on your bedding or pet your cat’s fur and then absent-mindedly rub your mouth.
What Kinds of Worms Can Cats Get?
Tapeworms can infect cats¹ and are transmitted by fleas. If the cat has fleas and a human accidentally ingests one, they can become infected with tapeworms.
Hookworms are thin, short worms that are commonly transmitted by pets eating contaminated soil. These worms can also be transmitted to humans in the same way, so it’s possible to get hookworms without your cat being the culprit. Walking across soil infested with hookworm larvae can cause them to burrow into the skin.
Roundworms commonly affect puppies and kittens. Deworming treatments are necessary for all young dogs and cats because they can be infected with roundworms as infants or be born with worms. Roundworm eggs can survive in the soil for years, and people can accidentally ingest them just by walking through the grass and picking up the eggs on their bodies. Eating vegetables grown in a garden is another avenue of transmission. Always make sure your food is properly washed before eating it.
How to Prevent Getting Worms From Your Cat
Children are more likely to get worms from a cat that has worms, but everyone can be infected. It’s important to take extra care around cats if you know that they have worms.
Until your cat is cleared of worms, wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch any part of their body. It’s especially important to wash your hands after you clean their litter box. You may want to wear gloves for this activity. Regularly disinfect the floor around the litter box.
It’s best to avoid close contact as much as possible when your cat has worms. Unfortunately, this may mean different sleeping arrangements. Avoid letting your cat in your bed until the infection is cleared. If your cat is on any shared furniture throughout the house, vacuum and clean it daily to prevent the spread of worms to others.
This doesn’t mean you can’t pet or play with your cat during this time, and you still should. Your cat still needs attention and support while they’re dealing with this situation. Just take care to clean all toys and your hands afterward.
Always take your cat for their annual vet visits to check for parasites. If you notice any worms in your cat, take them to the vet right away for treatment. This will likely include medication to kill the worms, and it may have to be given in multiple doses by you at home. Always use flea, tick, and mosquito treatments to prevent worm larvae from external parasites, including heartworms.
It is possible, although rare, to get worms from your cat if they’re sleeping in your bed. If your cat has an active worm infection, the best thing to do is keep them out of your bed until the worms are gone. Accidentally ingesting a worm egg will create an infestation in you too.
After petting and playing with your cat, be sure to wash your hands. Wear gloves to clean their litter box, and keep the area around the box disinfected regularly. Worms are treatable in cats, and you can keep everyone in the house parasite free until your cat has made a full recovery.
Featured Image Credit: Marina mrs_brooke, Shutterstock