Kittens tracked worm-laden poop clumps
January 7, 2010 8:29 PM   Subscribe

CuteANDGrossFilter: kittens zooming around the house + mushy poop stuck to tail area & feet + newly-discovered roundworm (re)infestation + carpet = OMG what do I do now to make sure it's really clean in here?

We have two foster kittens (mandatory photos here. They were spayed and neutered yesterday. By last night, they were even more lively than usual thanks to the excellent work by POP-NC.

Emmett, the fuzzy black male kitten, had "loose stools" last night which tended to stick to his backside and feet, and I think he was a little muzzy-headed and less fastidious in his toilette than usual as a result of the surgery or anesthetic. Extremely stinky and disgusting, although of course his winning personality and good looks compensate for a great deal. However, it turned out that he'd tracked a few small clumps onto the carpet, and when picking them up I found what definitely appear to be roundworms. A couple of small bouquets of them.

Ugh. These kittens have already been dewormed (twice). My theory is that they may have picked up a new infestation from a large, fleecy toy I brought home from the animal rescue organization's free but very used collection - it's a 4' long, 14"-diameter fleecy flexible tunnel, how could I resist? This very fun toy is currently sitting in the middle of my living room. I guess I learned my lesson. I'm not sure whether to bleach or destroy this thing - probably bleach, but that will be a mess, too.

But now, I worry that there are worm eggs in the carpet, on the cats, and who knows where else. I've been trying to find best cleaning practices for this situation.

I already know I "probably ought to" do a lot of stuff, including never sleeping again, steam-cleaning the carpet, and running all kittens through a full cycle with bleach in the washing machine -- but the only (very limited and informal) information I've found by Googling downplays the risk of picking up roundworm eggs except in feces. OK, the feces are definitely all gone now, but wouldn't there still be eggs in the carpet somehow?

I'm inclined to be super cautious and throw away a lot of stuff, bleach what's left, and set fire to the floor -- but that's impractical, I've got a bunch of heavy furniture the kittens crawl under all the time, and my dear man will probably rebel before I collapse.

Is there any definitive information out there? Does anyone have experience with this specific problem? I know that virtually all kittens have worms, yet some people foster litter after litter -- what do they do?

I already know:

- roundworms can cause blindness in young humans;
- they're not that great for cats, including future foster kittens;
- bleach isn't good for kittens, so leaving even a dilute solution it in the carpet to dry won't work well anyway;
- worm eggs can survive for a long time outside a host body (but do they have to be inside feces? or not?);
- berber carpet (which covers most of our floor) is particularly difficult to clean thoroughly.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
posted by amtho to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
To clarify: The exact places where the feces clumps were are being cleaned with warm, soapy, disinfectant-containing water no matter what - but I don't know all of the exact spots where the kitten feet walked, and some of them will be out of human reach. Further, the kittens have been everywhere here and probably have had the worm infestation for a couple of weeks or so.

Yes, it's disgusting. I wish we had hardwood floors, at least.
posted by amtho at 8:33 PM on January 7, 2010

Okay, this isn't really an answer but I just have to say that having hardwood floors doesn't help, especially when said floors are a little bit old, and you realize the poo has been smushed into the cracks, 'cause then you have to get out the bleach and a toothbrush, and you will be left with the feeling, several years later, that you still haven't gotten all the germs out.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:48 PM on January 7, 2010

Ugh. Thanks, BlahLaLa, I kind of feel better now.
posted by amtho at 8:52 PM on January 7, 2010

Kittens need to be dewromed regularly anyway. I think we were doing ours every week for a while, then every two weeks pretty much up til six months (can't remember the exact schedule but your vet or possibly a good petstore will know). This is the best way to keep on top of reinfestations until you get the cleaning sorted at least. Your vet should also have ideas about that, I found mine very helpful when I had a kitten with ringworm for example. I just called up and talked to the vet nurse (no appointment and no charge), so maybe you could try something similar?
posted by shelleycat at 9:06 PM on January 7, 2010

You're probably OK because you (and the cats) can only ingest eggs (if they're there) by licking the carpet. Given that's somewhat more likely for kittens and any future kittens you bring in, rent a carpet steam cleaner or hire a service, and relax. Give a once over to upholstered furniture too, I guess.

(And if I were anywhere near you, I would steal those kittens, poop or no poop. Want!)
posted by maudlin at 9:18 PM on January 7, 2010

It all comes down to your level of squee. Yes, roundworm eggs mostly lurk in feces but you won't be able to tell how much feces is left at a microscopic (and worm-egg) level. Personally, I'd go as follows;

Berber carpet is dense, so I'd steam clean it. Really, it's probably something that all carpet owners should do on a regular level just as a basic health thing. It won't be 100% effective (where carpet is concerned, nothing is - except perhaps a nuke from orbit) but it will certainly help. You can do it yourself, but frankly it's a lot of work and a professional job will also be more effective. It will need some drying time but at least the steam clean will minimize exposure to cleaning chemicals.

Regarding the fleece tunnel, I'm not sure what your best option is. Will it fit into a washing machine? I'd put it on a long hot wash with some bleach and eucalyptus oil and then hang it on the line in the sun for a week or two and hope for the best. You can burn it, of course, but you're still left with the carpet, fabric-covered furniture etc.

Your best bet, as shelleycat says, is to keep on top of the de-worming. Speak to your vet regarding a schedule and look into the dot-on anti-flea products - some of these are also effective against a variety of worms and other parasites. You will also need to de-worm the household (particularly if you have kids) just to make sure. Speak to your chemist and buy the appropriate dosages. Again, if you have children and/or have pets, a regular worming schedule should figure in your life at some point.

Parasites are unpleasant, but basic hygiene and pro-active measures will keep you and your pets safe and happy.

And enjoy the kitties! They are so cute!
posted by ninazer0 at 9:31 PM on January 7, 2010

#1 - nickname all kittens "Poopy Paws!"

(this worked for us;)

#2 - Yes steam clean. And enzyme pet spray (nature's miracle?) if no one mentioned that.

#3 - black light to find the spots?


Look into using Revolution instead of the other stuff.

I think it takes care of worms - definitely fleas and ear mites.

BIGGEST ADVANTAGE: I did a lot of research back in the day... not only was it WAY less toxic than Advantage and Frontline (which your vet will swear is safe + doesn't kill ear mites and parasites) BUT recently my husband got Frontline for the cats - they both had frothing mouth 15 min's post-application. This never happens with Revolution, including their most recent application.

Go ahead and throw away any cat-things you feel you can't get clean. They are replaceable. Your health, not as easily!

posted by jbenben at 9:53 PM on January 7, 2010

Also, I am surprised one de-worming didn't handle the problem (I'm not sure about other posters... but I've rescued TONS of cats and kittens. De-worming is pretty harsh and usually works after the first application. Are your cats being re-infected some way? Maybe you should throw away everything from the shelter and/or disbelieve they were effectively de-wormed the first time... maybe see a new vet??)

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 9:58 PM on January 7, 2010

I'm with jbenben. My humane society cat came home with ring worm, then I got it, We treated him with a sulfur bath and me with jock itch cream and haven't dealt with it since. That was 3 years ago and haven't had a problem since its the fleas.
posted by rickim at 10:14 PM on January 7, 2010

Ringworm is a fungus not a worm. I've found the spot on flea treatments (Revolution, Advantage) do keep the worms down in adult cats but for rescue kittens you probably want to stick with the pills for the first few goes at least (they're stronger and do a wider range of parasites). My rescued-from-a-field kittens were passing worms for the first three treatments, not because of reinfection but just due to a heavy worm load to start with, and they grew noticeably overnight every time we pilled them. So stick with it even if others blow it off.
posted by shelleycat at 11:05 PM on January 7, 2010

I wasn't thinking of "ringworm" - I was thinking of "intenstinal" worms - whatever they are called - I've only ever needed ONE treatment over 15+ strays I've rescued. I'm confused by the OP's issue.

I'm thinking a new vet for OP is in order. Or, perhaps, dead worms were being passed in the offending poops??

Lastly, I forgot to mention...

I always confine new kitties to the bathroom (non-porous surfaces;) for the first 2 weeks. This way I can assess kitties' litterbox results AND habits. OP is correct - most early health issues do show u in the poops and poop-habits.
posted by jbenben at 11:14 PM on January 7, 2010

The ringworm comment was aimed at rickim who seems confused.

Round worms spend some of their life cycle migrating into the lungs and liver where they aren't able to be killed, so repeat treatments are necessary to get those ones when they finally make it to the intestine. So it's entirely possible, even likely, that the worms could be from an initial infection rather than recently introduced and repeat worm treatment actually is necessary regardless of what uniformed people here are saying.

Reinfection is probably even more of an issue since you're keeping up a supply of juvenile worms moving around the lungs and stuff so the pills never have a chance to keep up, so this is a good question to be asking.
posted by shelleycat at 11:41 PM on January 7, 2010

Arg, as it was posting I noticed that says uniformed people when of course it should say uninformed.
posted by shelleycat at 11:42 PM on January 7, 2010

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