Parasites such as ticks and fleas can cause discomfort and disgust, but the thought of large, wriggling worms in your intestines takes it to another level. No one wants to come in contact with such creatures.
If you are a cat owner, you may encounter worms, and the notion of them being transmitted to you or your loved ones is a frightening thought.
Rest assured, the transmission of worms from cats is rare and infestations are not widespread in developed countries.
However, if your cat is infected with worms, you may wonder if it is safe to share a bed with them. Additionally, it is important to understand how these worms are transmitted in the first place.
Can I Get Worms From My Cat Sleeping in My Bed?
Technically you could get worms from your cat sleeping in your bed since many worms infesting cats are zoonotic however the chances are very low.
Firstly, you can’t get worms from your cat directly.
They are not transmitted like a cold or stomach bug and require a unique route that differs from worm to worm.
Here are the most common ones:
- To be infected with Dipylidium tapeworm, you must ingest an infected flea.
- Hookworm infections usually happen through contact with contaminated soil (walking barefoot or sitting on soil).
- Ingesting soil or dirt that has been contaminated with infected animal feces can lead to roundworm infections.
As you can see most of these infections happen outside rather than in your bedroom.
However, most times it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you know that your cat has worms and is undergoing treatment, it may be best to not sleep with your cat in your bed during this time.
Since the chances are never zero there is no reason for you to take unnecessary risks.
Now you might be asking why there should even be any risk since your cat is not pooping in your bedroom.
While that’s true (hopefully), your cat could be carrying tiny worm eggs on his coat either through cleaning himself after licking his bum or after rolling in his own poop or feces from other animals.
Worm eggs can survive several years in the soil so even if you didn’t see any poop where your cat has just rolled, you are not 100% safe.
I’d recommend washing all the bedsheets and blankets to remove any worm eggs that might be stuck there.
What Are the Chances of Getting Worms From Your Cat?
The chances of you getting worms from your cat are quite low and differ depending on which type of worm your cat is infected with.
Generally, intestinal parasites are way more common than you might think.
Globally, due to intestinal parasitic infections, some 3.5 billion people are affected; 450 million are symptomatic, and yearly more than 200,000 deaths are reported.Prevalence of Intestinal Parasite Infections and Their Associated Factors
Most affected are developing countries in tropical and subtropical areas with a lack of sanitation facilities.
Not all of those can be passed from pets to humans so let’s go over the relevant ones.
Toxocariasis is an infectious disease that is caused by parasitic roundworms and affects about 10,000 each year in the US.
About 5% of the US population (according to the CDC) has antibodies against this roundworm which suggests that tens of millions of Americans may have been exposed to the parasite.
Toxocara is not only transmitted by cats but also by cats, specifically ones that are left outside and allowed to eat other animals.
Kittens usually get infected by their mother before birth and pass the eggs in their feces.
As with most parasites, children are at the greatest risk of contracting Toxocara.
Tapeworm is not transmitted from cats to humans directly and the chances of you getting it are very low.
As I have said above, to be infected with Dipylidium you need to swallow an infected flea.
The best way to prevent that is through flea control.
Similar to roundworms, hookworms can be shed in a pet’s feces so make sure to wash your hands after playing with or touching your pets especially before handling food.
Avoid touching soil or other objects that could have animal feces on them.
Hookworm infections are primarily acquired by walking barefoot on contaminated soil.
An estimated 576 to 740 million people worldwide are affected by hookworm infections however most of these people live in developing nations with poor sanitation.
Your chances of getting infected by hookworms from your cat are very low.
Can I Touch My Kitten If He Has Worms?
You can touch your kitten if he has worms since most internal parasites can only be contracted by ingesting contaminated animal feces and are not passed directly from cats to humans.
Worms are especially common in kittens and they often get infected before birth or through the mother’s milk.
That’s why it’s so important to have the kittens’ stool tested regularly and to apply preventative treatment if needed.
However even if your kitty has worms, you can still touch and pet him if you follow good hygiene.
The risk of course is never zero but it is very unlikely for you to get worms from your kitty by simply touching him.
How Long Can a Cat Have Worms Before He Dies?
Cats only die from worm infections in severe cases which are usually accompanied by symptoms. If you notice any signs of illness, don’t wait and take your cat to the vet immediately for worm treatment.
Worm infestations can go unnoticed in a cat for a long time and may not cause any symptoms.
That’s why it’s recommended to regularly test your cat's poop for worms.
Look out for any signs of sickness that could be related to intestinal parasites such as:
- weight loss
- worms in poop/vomit
- scratching or rubbing bottom on the ground
The symptoms vary greatly depending on which type of worm your cat is infected with so make sure to take your cat to a vet whenever he shows signs.
Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your cat shows any sign of illness, call your vet.
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