Being a proud cat parent is full of ups and downs —mostly ups! But one of the downers is when your cat becomes infested with a parasite, like worms. Owning a pet means you need to contend with the occasional gross factor, which also means you need to stay on top of cleaning.
Cleaning your house when your cat has worms is doubly important because it can ensure that they don’t become reinfested. We go over tips and tricks for cleaning your home when your cat has worms and the best ways to keep your kitty from getting them again!
How Do Cats Get Worms?
It’s more likely that outdoor cats will get worms than indoor cats, but it’s possible for indoor cats to get them too.
If a cat comes into contact with any area that has worm eggs, they can become infected with worms. The eggs can sit on surfaces like grass and plants, as well as in feces.
After a cat brushes up against the eggs and eventually grooms themselves, they will ingest the eggs and have a case of worms.
Indoor cats are more likely to become infested if they live with multiple cats, particularly if they share the same litter boxes or live with dogs.
Outdoor cats can get worms if they eat any small prey that is also infested or if they come in contact with infected dog poop.
Finally, when a cat has fleas, there’s a chance of getting tapeworms. Fleas can jump from dogs to cats and can also be ingested when your cat is grooming themselves.
How Can You Tell If Your Cat Has Worms?
The kinds of symptoms that a cat exhibits depend on what type of worms they have. That said, here are common signs of worms:
If you notice a few of these symptoms and suspect that your cat might have worms, you should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
What Is the Treatment for Worms?
Before you clean your house, you need to treat the worms in your cat first. Keep in mind that the kind of treatment that a cat receives depends on what kind of worms they have. Roundworms and hookworms are among the most common, but cats can also get tapeworms and heartworms.
While over-the-counter deworming medication is available, it’s always best to have your cat properly diagnosed by your vet, who will then prescribe you the appropriate deworming medication. If your cat has fleas, you’ll need to clear up the fleas in addition to the tapeworms.
Cleaning Your House
Now that your cat has been treated for worms, it’s time to tackle your house. How well you clean the place is almost as important as the deworming treatment. If worm eggs are still hanging around, your cat will ingest them, and the cycle will start all over again.
1. Protecting Yourself
It is possible for you to become infested with your cat’s worms, so while dealing with the treatment and the cleaning, you need to wear protective gear such as rubber gloves while cleaning and wash your hands very well after cleaning.
You can consider wearing a full-body suit and rubber boots too. Otherwise, you need to clean everything that you’re wearing immediately after your cleaning session. Your best bet is to wear disposable protective gear so you can just throw everything away when you’re done.
2. Cleaning That Litter Box
Your first point of contact should be your cat’s litter box. Where there is poop, there will be worm eggs. Remember that your cat should be undergoing deworming treatment first. Removing the source of the worm eggs will help reduce the chances that your cat will get reinfected.
While your cat is undergoing treatment, you should be cleaning the litter box every day and immediately after your cat has pooped.
Empty the tray, wash it with soap and water, and rinse. Prepare a solution of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water to disinfect it allowing 15 minutes of contact time before rinsing with water. The next step is to pass the steamer over all surfaces and allow the litter box to dry out in the sun. Remember to wear gloves and a mask that can be thrown out when you’re done.
3. Cleaning Any Accidents
Your cat may be vomiting and experiencing diarrhea, so you’ll need to clean those messes up as soon as possible. You can find eggs and worms in vomit and feces, so it’s essential to stay on top of these accidents. How you clean them depends on the surfaces that the accidents are sitting on.
4. Cleaning Hard Floors
If any accidents occur on a hard floor or surface, start by wiping it up with paper towels. Then mix boiling hot clean water with detergent, and wash the surface thoroughly. Follow this up with a bleach solution or a cat-safe disinfectant spray, which can help eliminate any bacteria, and then steam the surface and allow to dry.
5. Cleaning the Carpet
Your best bet is to purchase or rent a steam cleaner — at least throughout this process. This way, if your cat throws up on your carpet, you can easily steam it and then clean it with a carpet cleaner. Read the directions on the carpet cleaner, follow them closely, and remember to do multiple cleanings rather than oversaturating your carpet.
We also recommend that you pick up an enzymatic cleaner for cleaning up the messes. Most of these can be used on every surface. They can break down the odors and stains caused by pets, including vomit and feces. Just do a spot test before using it on a bigger surface, as they can sometimes cause discoloration.
6. Cleaning All Hard Surfaces
Dealing with spot cleaning where your cat made a mess is one thing, but you also need to clean most surfaces in your home. This may sound daunting, but since the worm eggs can stick to your cat’s fur, they can be transferred to many different surfaces in your place.
You’ll want to concentrate on the specific areas that your cat typically goes to and use the boiled water and detergent mixture to wipe down these surfaces. Or you can use an enzymatic or disinfectant spray.
7. Cleaning the Carpets Again
After taking care of the spots on your carpet, you’ll want to deep clean the entire thing. Worm eggs don’t live for long on hard surfaces, but they can live on soft surfaces, like your carpets, for weeks or months.
This means giving your carpet a thorough cleaning is vital! The best method is to vacuum and then steam clean, as the steam’s heat will kill the worms and their eggs. Unfortunately, once is not enough, so you’ll want to do this deep cleaning until the worms have been completely eradicated from your cat and your home.
8. Cleaning Everything
Now that you’re staying on top of the litter box and have cleaned your carpets and floors (and probably tables and counters, since cats love jumping onto so many surfaces), you just need to clean everything else, like your cat’s bedding, blankets, toys, cushions, etc. Just put most of these items on the hot water cycle in your washing machine.
On other furniture where your cat likes to lounge, you’ll need to use the steam cleaner or clean the surfaces with the hot water and detergent. Don’t forget to get into all the nooks and crannies!
9. Looking Outside
Take a look outside if you have an outdoor cat. Start by boiling water, mixing it with bleach, and pouring it over any concrete or patio spaces. Don’t use any power washers or hoses, as these will just splash the parasites around.
You should also clean up any poop that you find in your yard as soon as possible because this is usually the original source of the worm infestation.
Avoiding Future Parasite Infestations
While there’s never any guarantee that you can completely prevent your cat from getting worms, there are a few steps that you can take to at least reduce the chances of it happening again.
Keep Your Cat Inside
Indoor cats can be susceptible to worms, but outdoor cats are much more likely to get them. It stands to reason that keeping your cat inside can help prevent worms.
Supervise Your Cat Outside
If you can’t keep your cat inside, consider setting up your backyard to confine your cat to just your yard. This can also enable you to keep an eye on your cat while they’re outside. Beyond coming into contact with infected feces, another way that your cat can get worms is by eating birds or mice that are already infected.
Speak to your veterinarian about giving your cat preventative medicine against parasites. Flea medication can help prevent fleas and the tapeworms that can come with them. This is particularly important for outdoor cats.
Giving your cat a regular combing (or brushing) will enable you to discover any potential eggs or other unwelcome visitors on your cat’s fur. All cats do well with regular grooming, but it’s especially important for outdoor cats. Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your cat.
We all need to clean our homes regularly, but it’s especially important when you’re dealing with any kind of parasitic infestation. Constant cleaning of the litter box and the areas where your cat tends to sleep on is essential while you’re in the process of eradicating worms.
If you have multiple pets, try to keep them separate from each other at this time, and give your infested cat their own litter box. Don’t forget the all-important vet visit! You need an official diagnosis and treatment so you can get your cat back to their regular worm-free self.
Featured Image Credit: Kachalkina Veronika, Shutterstock