Are Home Deworming Remedies Safe for Cats?

Worms are common in cats, especially if they spend time outside. But traditional worming treatments can be rough on your feline fur baby’s system.

Fortunately, there are some home remedies that may help you get rid of the tiny parasites. Just remember to consult with your veterinarian before trying anything. Different cats and types of worms call for specific approaches.

What kinds of worms could I find in my cat?

Common feline worms

Cats can get several types of worms. The most common affect the gastrointestinal system and include:

  • Roundworms – Affecting 25-75% of cats, roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite in cats. Cats usually pick up these worms by eating grass or dirt contaminated with roundworm eggs. They may also eat rodents infected with the roundworms. The adult parasites are 3 to 5 inches long and cream-colored. They can also infect humans.
  • Hookworms – Hookworms are threadlike, slender, and less than ½ inch long. These parasites aren’t as common as roundworms. Usually, cats ingest the whipworms, or the larvae penetrate the skin. Once inside your cat, the worms travel through the lungs and end up in the intestines. In humans, these worms can penetrate the skin and cause irritation.
  • Tapeworms – Reflecting their name, tapeworms have long, flat bodies that resemble a ribbon. Segments may appear in the feces and look like rice or sesame seeds. Cats get tapeworms by eating infected fleas or rodents. Some types of cat tapeworms can also infect humans.
  • Whipworms – Whipworms are not common among cats in the United States, but they can affect felines worldwide. These parasites live in the large intestine and may cause watery diarrhea if there’s a heavy parasite load. Like the other parasites, cats get them when they ingest contaminated materials from the environment.

Less common feline worms

Some worms in cats affect other body systems. They are less common than the intestinal parasites, but they can be harmful to your friend’s health.

These include:

  • Lungworms
  • Stomach worms
  • Bladder worms
  • Liver flukes
  • Heartworms

Could it be worms? Signs your cat may have parasites

Cats can have worms and show no outward signs. Or they may have symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening, depending on the type of worm and infestation.

If your kitty is a recent adoption, spends time outside, or has unexplained weight loss, there’s a possibility they have worms. Because of the wide range of signs, the best way to tell if your precious pal has worms to schedule a fecal exam by your veterinarian.

Signs of roundworms

Roundworm infection signs, if present, can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Swollen abdomen or pot belly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

Signs of hookworms

Hookworm symptoms can range from mild to severe and include:

  • Diarrhea with blood
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anemia
  • Coughing
  • Skin lesions

Signs of tapeworms

The most common symptom is segments that look like rice or sesame seeds:

  • On or around the anus
  • On the underside of the tail
  • On the fur around the anus
  • In the feces or litter box

Signs of whipworms

If your cat has a heavy infestation, you may see diarrhea.

Signs of lungworms

If your cat becomes infected with lungworms, you may notice:

  • Coughing
  • Labored breathing
  • Pneumonia with severe or prolonged infections

Signs of stomach worms

Cats that roam freely are more likely to have these worms. Affected felines may show no signs of infestation, or you may see:

  • Chronic, repeated vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition

Signs of Bladderworms

If your cat has bladderworms and displays any symptoms, you could see:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful urination
  • Straining to pee

Signs of Liver Flukes

As with many other parasites, you may not notice any signs. However, heavy infestations can trigger:

  • Liver enlargement
  • Swollen abdomen

Signs of Heartworms

Like dogs, cats can get heartworm. If your feline has a heartworm infestation, you may notice:

  • Coughing
  • Labored breathing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Sudden collapse or death

What are my options – can I safely treat my cats at home?

If you suspect your kitty has worms and you’re concerned about the potential side effects of traditional dewormers, what can you do? Fortunately, there are some natural options available that may help you treat an infestation and prevent future infections.

Of course, before you do anything, talk to your veterinarian. What works for one cat’s situation won’t be effective for all, depending on the type of worm and your cat.

Below, we’ll list some natural, at-home remedies you can try to treat worms in your cat.

Food grade diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth contains the fossil remains of tiny aquatic creatures called diatoms. The sedimentary remains contain silica, which can treat internal and external parasites.

This treatment works by damaging and drying the parasite’s exoskeleton. The abrasive edges of the silica scratch the surface of the worms and the environment kills them.

You can add food-grade diatomaceous earth to your cat’s food based on weight:

  • ½ teaspoon for cats weighing between 2 and 6 ½ pounds
  • 1 teaspoon for cats weighing between 6 ½ pounds and 13 pounds
  • 1½ teaspoons for cats weighing over 13 pounds

If you choose to feed your cat diatomaceous earth, continue the treatment for at least two weeks and possibly longer, depending on the type of worm.

One product you can use is Harris food-grade diatomaceous earth.

Ground pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds can help eliminate intestinal parasites. This natural remedy contains an amino acid called cucurbitacin, which paralyzes the worms.

When the active ingredient acts on the worms, they let go of the intestines. Then the worms exit in the poop. You can add 1 teaspoon of ground pumpkin seeds a day to your cat’s food.

Coarsely chopped carrots

Coarsely chopped carrots can effectively scrape worms and mucus from your cat’s intestines. They also contain oils that help to eliminate the parasites in the feces.

Including vitamin A, these vegetables are also a healthy treat. However, feed no more than 10% of the diet, otherwise it can cause diarrhea or vitamin A overdose.

Dried coconut

Some people claim that coconut oil is effective for eliminating worms in cats, but that’s not true. The oil can be too rich for cats. The high fat content can cause diarrhea.

However, dried coconut can help with the treatment of worms. It’s a vermifuge, or an agent that causes the body to expel parasites. To treat for worms, give your cat:

  • 1 teaspoon for cats under about 6 pounds
  • 2 teaspoons for cats between about 6 and 13 pounds
  • 3 teaspoons for cats over 13 pounds

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can help to eliminate worms because it changes the pH in the intestines. By raising the alkaline levels, the environment becomes undesirable for worms.

Check with your veterinarian about the proper dosage for your cat. Too much remedy can damage the kidneys.

Some sources recommend other home remedies, but they haven’t demonstrated effectiveness in treating an active infestation. Some may be useful preventatives, but only use them with caution after talking to your veterinarian.

  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Chamomile
  • Fasting
  • Black walnut

Can I trust home remedies… are they safe for my cat?

Home remedies have their risks. If your cat has allergies, they may react to the treatment. And some materials can be dangerous if you give the wrong dose to your kitty.

Home remedies don’t always work. They’re effective for some cats but not others. That’s why you should always talk to your veterinarian before trying something.

Depending on the severity of a worm infestation, your cat may need medical attention. When parasite loads are high, rapid deworming can distress your precious pal’s system.

How can I minimize the risks of trying a home remedy?

The best way to reduce the potential risks of home remedies is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. The clinic can evaluate your cat, identify the type of worm infestation, and provide treatment recommendations.

What if it’s not working – when do I call my vet?

Natural deworming remedies can take more than two weeks to work. However, if you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian:

  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Repeated vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dehydration

How serious are worms in cats?

Although some worm infestations are asymptomatic at first, they will eventually impact your cat. When left untreated, worms can cause severe effects, including:

  • Growth delays in kittens
  • Malnutrition
  • Blood loss and anemia

Any time you notice signs of worms in your cat, contact your veterinarian. Early treatment and preventative measures are essential for your cat’s health.

Frequently asked questions

What can I do to prevent worms in my cat?

Some ways to help prevent worms in your cat include:

  • Keep your cat inside
  • Regularly check the feces
  • Clean the litter box regularly
  • Give flea and heartworm preventatives
  • Provide fresh, clean water
  • Provide a healthy diet
  • Supplement with digestive enzymes and probiotics

Can my dog give worms to my cat?

There are strains of worms that affect both dogs and cats.

Can my cat get worms if he’s always indoors?

Your cat can get worms even if it never goes outside. Sources include:

  • Dirty shoes that contain parasite eggs
  • Insects
  • Rodents
  • Fleas
  • Other pets that go outside

Can cats get heartworm?

Cats are not a natural host for heartworms, but they can be infected. Heartworms in cats have a shorter lifespan and are usually fewer.

Can I get worms from my cat?

Yes, some species of cat worms can infect people.

What do worms in cats look like?

The two types of worms that you may observe in infected cats are roundworms and tapeworms.

  • Roundworms look like about 3- to 5-inch-long spaghetti noodles
  • Tapeworms look like rice grains or sesame seeds


  • Elizabeth Lasley

    Elizabeth is an animal lover who is owned by three cats: Vivan, Burr, and Puck. Her passion for writing started in the 9th grade when she began writing her novel. She hasn't stopped since.

  • Dr. Liz Guise, Veterinarian

    Dr. Elizabeth Guise (DVM) graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. She worked as a veterinarian in private practice for over two years before going to work with the USDA as a veterinary medical officer for 14 years.