Can cats get whipworm?
A whipworm is a parasitic worm that has a thin front end and a thicker rear, looking a bit like a whip. Whipworm is more commonly found in dogs – cats are very rarely affected especially in the UK. However, it can be a problem in cats elsewhere in the world.
Adult whipworms live in the large intestine and produce eggs that are passed out in the animal’s poo. These eggs can survive for long periods of time in the environment, and other animals become infected by eating these eggs. Upon eating the eggs, whipworm larvae hatch into the intestine, and develop into new adult whipworms.
If low numbers of worms are present, there may be no symptoms. In heavy infestations, the worms can cause damage to the intestines with their whip like tails, and sometimes this can lead to diarrhoea containing blood.
Thankfully, whipworm is not commonly found in UK cats, but there are other much more common worms that do target our feline friends, notably roundworm and tapeworm. Regular worming will help.
As whipworm is found in other parts of the world, have a chat with your vet if you are thinking about travelling abroad with your cat.
Did you know…
Whipworms might be unpleasant, but they might be useful after all. Scientists have spent over a decade researching the possible benefits of using whipworm to fight a range of illnesses, from bowel conditions to multiple sclerosis.
For more information on worming for cats, speak to your vet.