Cats and Dogs
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Can cat worms live in bedding?

Can I Get Worms From a Cat Sleeping in the Bed? (Facts, & FAQ)

Cat sleeping near woman

Cats, like many other animals, can be infected with worms. This is something that many cat owners will have to deal with at some point during their lives. If your cat has a worm infestation and sleeps in your bed, you may be wondering if you can get worms from them.

First, your cat has to be infected with worms for this to be possible. If your cat does not have any parasites¹, internal or external, and does not go outside, sleeping in your bed will not transmit any parasites to you. If your cat has a parasite, you will likely know it. Your vet should check your cat for signs of parasites at their annual checkups, and there are other signs to watch for.

However, if your cat does have worms, there is a possibility that they can be transferred to you in your bed. This is rare but it can happen. In this article, we explore how the transmission occurs and what types of worms your cat can have.

How Do Cats Get Worms?

Cats can get worms by ingesting worm eggs. They may also eat prey that is infected with worms, getting the infection themselves. Cats are curious and will investigate anything, especially if they have access to the outdoors.

If they walk through contaminated feces and then lick their paws, that’s all it takes to swallow a worm egg and become infected. Fleas may also transfer worm eggs from cat to cat, so keeping your cat parasite free year-round is important.

cat sleeping under the sheets

How Can You Tell If a Cat Has Worms?

Your vet may notice worms in a fecal exam during your cat’s annual visit. Other signs include a few obvious ones, like seeing worms in a cat’s feces. If you notice long worms that resemble spaghetti or small worms that look like sesame seeds in your cat’s litter box, your cat needs prompt treatment.

Weight loss and excessive eating or drinking are other signs of a worm infestation. The worms feed on the food that your cat eats, robbing them of the nutrients that they need. Your cat will not be able to eat enough food to feel satisfied and will lose weight even while continuing to eat more and more.

In some cases, your cat won’t have an appetite at all and lose alarming amounts of weight.

How Could I Get Worms From My Cat?

Humans get worms the same way that cats do: by coming in contact with worm eggs and ingesting them. This will rarely happen because you don’t groom your cat with your tongue or ingest their feces.

The way that cats can transfer worms to humans is by close contact. If your cat is close to your face and a worm egg is on their fur, it’s possible that this egg can be transferred to your face and swallowed by you. This can also happen if the eggs fall from the cat onto your pillowcase or bedding. The eggs have to make it to your mouth for you to get worms, so you could touch an egg on your bedding or pet your cat’s fur and then absent-mindedly rub your mouth.

What Kinds of Worms Can Cats Get?

Tapeworms can infect cats¹ and are transmitted by fleas. If the cat has fleas and a human accidentally ingests one, they can become infected with tapeworms.

Hookworms are thin, short worms that are commonly transmitted by pets eating contaminated soil. These worms can also be transmitted to humans in the same way, so it’s possible to get hookworms without your cat being the culprit. Walking across soil infested with hookworm larvae can cause them to burrow into the skin.

Roundworms commonly affect puppies and kittens. Deworming treatments are necessary for all young dogs and cats because they can be infected with roundworms as infants or be born with worms. Roundworm eggs can survive in the soil for years, and people can accidentally ingest them just by walking through the grass and picking up the eggs on their bodies. Eating vegetables grown in a garden is another avenue of transmission. Always make sure your food is properly washed before eating it.

cat sleeping near man

How to Prevent Getting Worms From Your Cat

Children are more likely to get worms from a cat that has worms, but everyone can be infected. It’s important to take extra care around cats if you know that they have worms.

Until your cat is cleared of worms, wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch any part of their body. It’s especially important to wash your hands after you clean their litter box. You may want to wear gloves for this activity. Regularly disinfect the floor around the litter box.

It’s best to avoid close contact as much as possible when your cat has worms. Unfortunately, this may mean different sleeping arrangements. Avoid letting your cat in your bed until the infection is cleared. If your cat is on any shared furniture throughout the house, vacuum and clean it daily to prevent the spread of worms to others.

This doesn’t mean you can’t pet or play with your cat during this time, and you still should. Your cat still needs attention and support while they’re dealing with this situation. Just take care to clean all toys and your hands afterward.

Always take your cat for their annual vet visits to check for parasites. If you notice any worms in your cat, take them to the vet right away for treatment. This will likely include medication to kill the worms, and it may have to be given in multiple doses by you at home. Always use flea, tick, and mosquito treatments to prevent worm larvae from external parasites, including heartworms.

Final Thoughts

It is possible, although rare, to get worms from your cat if they’re sleeping in your bed. If your cat has an active worm infection, the best thing to do is keep them out of your bed until the worms are gone. Accidentally ingesting a worm egg will create an infestation in you too.

After petting and playing with your cat, be sure to wash your hands. Wear gloves to clean their litter box, and keep the area around the box disinfected regularly. Worms are treatable in cats, and you can keep everyone in the house parasite free until your cat has made a full recovery.

Featured Image Credit: Marina mrs_brooke, Shutterstock

  • How Do Cats Get Worms?
  • How Can You Tell If a Cat Has Worms?
  • How Could I Get Worms From My Cat?
  • What Kinds of Worms Can Cats Get?
  • How to Prevent Getting Worms From Your Cat
  • Final Thoughts

Giardia and Pets

woman and little boy laying on floor with dog and cat in living room at home

Dog and cat stool (poop) can contain Giardia germs and may make people sick even when the pet appears healthy. Symptoms of Giardia infection in both people and pets can include diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting. It is possible to be infected and have no signs or symptoms of illness.

Can I get Giardia infection from my pet?

The chances of people getting Giardia infection from dogs or cats are low. The type of Giardia that infects humans is not usually the same type that infects dogs and cats.

If you own other household or exotic pets, contact your veterinarian for more information. Some strains of Giardia can be shared between humans and animals, including chinchillas, beavers, birds, opossums, and monkeys.

How is Giardia spread?

Anything that touches poop from infected humans or animals can be contaminated with Giardia germs. People and animals become infected when they swallow Giardia germs.

How does my dog or cat get infected with Giardia?

Your dog or cat might get infected by:

  • Being in contact with infected poop from another dog or cat
  • Rolling and playing in contaminated soil
  • Licking its body after contact with a contaminated surface (for example, a dirty litter box or dog cage or crate)
  • Drinking water from a contaminated creek, pond, or other body of water

Young pets, like puppies and kittens, have a higher risk of illness than adult dogs and cats.

How do I protect myself if my dog or cat has a Giardia infection?

The chances of getting sick with a Giardia infection from your dog or cat are small. However, there are some steps you can take to minimize your exposure to Giardia if you have dogs or cats:

  • Wear gloves when gardening to reduce the risk of coming into contact with infected poop or soil.
  • Clean and disinfect household surfaces regularly, and especially areas or supplies that your pet uses such as toys, bedding, and water and food bowls.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching your pets, their food or treats, their poop, or their supplies.

If my pet has a Giardia infection, how do I clean and disinfect my house?

How do I reduce the amount of Giardia in my yard or outdoor environment?

Giardia is hard to eliminate from the environment, but there are things you can do to lower the chances of your pet getting sick again, and to help you and your family stay healthy:

  • Always remove poop from your yard or other outdoor areas by using a bag and throwing it away.
  • Change cat litterboxes daily.
  • Limit pets’ access to common outdoor spaces, such as dog parks or public trails, as much as possible if they have diarrhea or are being treated for Giardia.
  • Remove standing water (for example, empty any containers of water and remove any water from fountains that are not in use).
  • Do not use bleach or quaternary ammonium compounds in your soil or grass area, as they will not work.
  • Do not allow any new animals, especially young ones, to enter the yard or other outdoor space until advised by your veterinarian.

How long does Giardia survive in the environment?

  • Giardia can survive for several months in cold water or soil.
  • Giardia can survive much longer in soil at colder temperatures than at room temperature.
  • Giardia can survive longer in water at colder temperatures (for example, lake or puddle water during the winter, refrigerated water) than at warmer temperatures (for example, tap water, river or puddle water during the summer or fall).
  • Giardia survives much longer in moist, cool environments than in dry, warm environments that have direct sunlight.

How often and for how long should I clean and disinfect my home after my dog or cat is diagnosed with Giardia infection?

  • Clean and disinfect potentially contaminated items (for example, toys, water bowls and food bowls, pet bedding, floors, dog crates, linens, towels, litter box) regularly for as long as your pet is sick.
  • If your pet is taking medication, clean and disinfect potentially contaminated items frequently (daily if possible) until a few days after the last dose of medication is given.
  • Giardia survival depends on many factors, so we recommend that you consult your veterinarian for further advice.

How do I prevent my dog or cat from getting re-infected, or getting my other pets sick, during treatment?

  • If you have other dogs or cats, make sure you tell your veterinarian, even if they are not showing signs of diarrhea. Other pets may also be started on medication, depending on the situation. Even animals without visible signs of Giardia infection may be infected and shedding Giardia into the environment.
  • Bathe all household pets with pet shampoo following medical treatment to ensure no poop is in the pet’s coat.
  • Clean dogs’ and cats’ environment (for example, holding areas, floors, crates) and wash water bowls daily with soap and water. Clean cages, habitats, and supplies outside the home when possible to avoid contaminating surfaces. If that is not possible, clean them in a laundry sink or bathtub and then disinfect that area immediately afterward. See the Clean and Disinfect section on the Prevention and Control page for more information.
  • Limit your dog’s access to creeks, ponds, lakes, and other waterbodies to avoid re-infecting your animal and contaminating the water, which could make other animals sick.

How do I treat my pet for Giardia infection?

  • If your pet has diarrhea that is not going away, seek veterinary care. Diarrhea has different causes and could result in dehydration or other serious problems.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of Giardia infection must be done by a licensed veterinarian.
  • No approved over-the-counter treatment is available for Giardia infection.
  • Giardia can be passed in poop intermittently, and an animal may appear healthy or without signs of disease before it stops passing Giardia. Repeated poop tests may be necessary.
  • Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and take your pet to all follow-up appointments.
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