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Can cats get whipworm?

Intro Text
Whipworm in cats isn’t a problem in the UK, but cats can be affected in other parts of the world, and UK dogs are at risk from this parasite.
Grey cat grooms itself on orange sofa

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.

Whipworm symptoms
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.

 Cat drinks water from a bowl in garden

Tackling worms
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.