The Zoo

wormy little kitten butts

charcoal the kitten postcard

Hopefully the title of this post will keep away the faint of stomach.

Two trips to the vet later and I think Charcoal is on his way to being worm-free. Yes, he had worms! Ew, ew, EW! I don’t even know how many different kinds of worms he has. I could go into some description but I think you all would lose your lunch. I nearly did.

How could such cute soft cuddliness be marred by something so completely disgusting? There is nothing like picking up a ball of fluff, bringing it close to your face for some loving and then seeing something wiggly and white hanging off that cute little rat tail. And no, it’s not rice.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Apparently most kittens are born with worms and it’s just part of the process. How I managed to not know this as a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady, I do not know.

So I turned into OCD woman and cleaned everything in sight. I cleaned the cat carrier out with bleach, threw out the cat litter and the cat box (it wasn’t worth cleaning) and packed Charcoal off to our favorite friendly cheap cat clinic. They gave him a bunch of shots and I was on my way.

Until I got home. Then everything went haywire. I don’t think I shared the story of the dead pigeon in our alley but it has tainted our view of wild animals. A while back, maybe a year ago, a pigeon got run over in the alley that runs right by the front of our house. (The alley is pretty much our front yard since we live in the concrete jungle.) Upon closer inspection of the pigeon, we discovered it was infested with worms.

Worms like spaghetti poured ourt of its innards. It was the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. I will never look at a pigeon the same way again. No wonder they fly right into cars sometimes. They are being eaten alive by worms inside them.

When I light-heartedly told Toby that I had just taken the kitten to the vet to be de-wormed (as if this is something that we do all the time) it didn’t come out as breezily as I intended. Toby didn’t get mad or anything but I could tell I was in the doghouse again. First for bringing home a kitten without asking and then for bringing home a kitten with worms. Wiggly disgusting worms that we all have nightmares about ever since The Great Pigeon Incident.

Toby asked me what kind of worms Charcoal had and I honestly didn’t know. How many kinds of worms are there? Apparently a lot. Some are even dangerous to humans. I called up the vet to find out. They didn’t know either. They would have to check the results and call me back.

Ten minutes later they called back with the urgent message that I needed to bring Charcoal back in immediately. He has tapeworms. They also told me to keep my toddler, who was rubbing her pacifier along the kitten’s back affectionately, away from the infected kitten. Crappity crap crap! The woman on the phone said something about getting a tapeworm egg in Baby Bug’s eye and something horrible horrible horrible that I blocked out.

I hung up the phone, shuddered a little bit and then piled everybody back in the car for a second visit to the vet. Joy joy joy. Lunchtime and naptime be damned, we are getting rid of these worms before we all die a horrible death and have spaghetti worms coming out of our orifices.

It turns out the woman on the phone just wanted to freak me out for no reason. You can get tapeworm by rubbing a tape worm egg in your eye but it’s pretty rare. You pretty much have to eat kitten poop to be infected with tapeworm. Thankfully, Baby Bug seems to be past that stage. Once in a while she will sneak a bit of cat kibble but she leaves the cat box alone.

While we were at the vet waiting and waiting and waiting, something interesting did happen. Wonderfully, that something was not Baby Bug having a temper tantrum like last time. Some woman, who in my book has to be the stupidest cat owner I have ever come across, brought her very large cat in without a cat carrier.

Actually, she didn’t make it to the clinic waiting room. We saw her struggling with a large furry blur of orange and the next thing we knew the large blur was bolting past the office windows and into the industrial park parking lot—not a very good place for a cat to be bolting. The woman ran after him shrieking, “Kiwi!” and waving her arms like a lunatic. There was no way this woman was going to catch her cat. Then she started clapping. I guess in her bizarre world her cat comes to the sound of clapping. In my world, my cats run from loud noises. Especially when they are scared and hiding under strange automobiles.

So being the lunatic that I am, I hoisted Baby Bug onto my hip and went lumbering after Kiwi the running orange cat. We chased him from one end of the parking lot to the other. There were a few times I was even afraid he was going to leave the parking lot and run across the very busy street in front of the clinic. Thankfully, Kiwi seemed to know not to do that.

But what really got me irked at the crazy woman was that just when I thought I might be able to sneak up on him kindly, saying something softly like “Here kitty kitty kitty,” this woman would run up yelling and clapping and being all sorts of crazy. Over and over she would scare him away.

Even when one of the clinic employees came out with a net, Kiwi couldn’t be caught because of his crazy owner. Maybe she didn’t deserve to own a cat and should lose Kiwi…but still, losing a cat in an office industrial park is pretty sad. There were cars everywhere and it would be pretty bleak for him to find food and shelter.

Amazingly, as Kiwi was bolting past another office window, a woman in scrubs came out and caught him. She had the sense to corner him behind some bushes and then just pick him up before the crazy owner could scare him away again. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that but it might have been partly that I was running all over the place with a KID on my hip. Running while carrying a toddler does lessen your stealthiness some.

So that was the end of the escaping cat story. Kiwi safely made it to the clinic but then we found out later he was scheduled to be neutered that day. Poor cat.

Charcoal got his second shot and some flea medicine and is on his way to a happy healthy kittenhood. In about two weeks we will get over our phobia of worms and all will be well again.


Anybody still want a kitten?


  • sizzle

    I think worms are pretty common for kitties. But seriously, if I saw some bird with its guts all wormy I’d have an anti-worm stance too. EW!

    I bet someone is going to want Charcoal. I mean, come on, look at the cuteness!

  • Jummy

    I’d have major worm phobia forever if I saw that pigeon (I’m grossed out enough by worms as it is!).

    And you? Have the softest heart ever. You deserve a reward for your valiant efforts to grab Kiwi even bogged down as you were. And Kiwi’s owner is one lucky woman…hopefully someone told her that cat carriers are useful for this very reason!

  • DeeAnne

    All kittens get worms. In fact so do puppies. They get them from the mother.
    You can read more about it here:

    It is gross though and as the medicine works on your kitten I will warn you in advance that you will see the kitty passing the dead worms in the litter box…. extra icky grossness.

    Cute kitten. I am allergic but someone mentioned to me the other day they wanted one and if I could only remember WHO we would be in business. It was a Beach Cites resident so the transfer would be fairly simple.

    Kudos to you for your caring attitude!

  • Danielle

    Ueegh. Two weeks, huh? I don’t think I will ever stop being afraid of worms after this… *little gagging over here*

    But he is cute from the front end!!

  • Gingermog

    What pigeons are full of worms? All of them? Did that dead pigeon decompose really fast? Now I’m worried for the birdies I pass every day.

    At the corner of my street we have this big old cherry tree and 30 odd fat, fluffy pigeons hang out there in the mornings sqawking and doing their thing waiting for Miss Jeanie – a very old lady pulling a shopping trolley and wearing sneakers who feeds them tons of bread every morning without fail. I always think there the best cared pigeons in London.

    Tape worms in the eye, kitties with worms hanging out of their bums, oh gee whizz…

  • Roberta Beach Jacobson

    We have “the worm thing” with our kitties, too. It’s part of our cat routine. (Our dog routine, too, but we don’t notice as easily.) A Cat Lady salute to you for getting to the vets and putting the word out!

  • Annabanana

    O my gosh, gross!

    I admire you for having pets, and birds and all. And baby sitting one too.
    However this is why I am totally freaked out about them. My sister got tapeworms from our dog when we were kids, it freaked me out to this day.
    I do know though that with my two little ones it will just be a matter of time before we have a pup, I MUST get over my worm freakishness.

  • Calee

    Icky, Icky, ICKY!

    So much for wanting a kitten. My toddler hasn’t yet eaten poop but I wouldn’t put it past her. No kittens until that possibility is long passed.

  • franticallysimple

    Okay, I can’t believe I’m going to actually tell the world about this (because the whole world reads your comments) but when I was a kid I somehow got pin worms. If you think it’s gross seeing one on a kitty tail how about on your own TP?
    I thought I could possibly die from it.
    Or maybe just from shame.

  • Marie

    Ew! Worms are just disgusting! I actually can’t stand pigeons. Have major phobia when it comes to them.

    Charcoal is still cute but no thanks!

  • Ta

    Worms are gross but be warned that when you take him back to you Mom’s he may get them again if the other kittens still have them.

  • jo

    When I was little we all had to have doses of worm medicine at regular intervals – general agitation combined with butt scratching resulted in an immediate dose. I never saw any but it was a generally accepted fact that you would get them (kids eat dirt = kids get worms). One of the theories going around now is that one of the reasons for high instances of allergies and auto-immune diseases (thinking in particular of IBD) in the western world is because of our hyper cleanliness and fear of dirt (and worms). One treatment being trialled for IBD involves drinking pig whipworm eggs – sounds gross, but living with Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis is no picnic…

  • cagey

    Yeah, our outside cat gets worms occasionally and the whole “rice sneaking outta the butt” thing that you described is DEAD ON. And just as GROSS. *sigh*

    The things we will go through for a pet. And you? Taking the cat the vet and such? DUDE. You are SO not letting that kitten go – that is my bet.

    We bought a fish today. Your story is so much better, though.

  • Britt

    I have a ridiculous fear of atpeworms. Despite know how they are transmitted and that my chance of getting one is slim, I still feel I am constantly in danger of harboring one!

    Good luck and I hope worm fest ’08 is over soon!

  • amyinbc

    Oh my mom would be as pleased as punch by your worm story! As a kid all of us kids and pets were regularly de-wormed. Rite of passage. This would only cement what she knew to be true. WORMS LIVED INSIDE OUR BODIES! ;)

    I would still take the kitten. You know, provided I did not live in a different country, wasn’t allergic to cats and my husband did not hate them so. Yeah, sort of passing on kitty.. But sincerely hoping one of your other readers jumps in and offers..

  • ninabi

    I’m guessing you didn’t serve rice or spaghetti for dinner….

    Isn’t it amazing how something so cute can harbor something so yucky? I only dealt with a tapeworm/flea problem once years ago but the horror of seeing “rice” and the frantic cleaning afterwards left a powerful memory even 23 years later!

    Glad it’s over and past!

  • red lotus mama

    First, I have a huge phobia of birds. Please don’t get near pidgeons. There is a reason they are called “rats with wings.” When I was a child my dad and I rescued a baby bird that had fallen out its nest and was abandoned. We put it in my empty hampster cage and fed it using a dropper. Cute, right?!?! Well, the little adorable birdie spread fleas ALL OVER OUR HOUSE! It was horrible. My dad and I were covered in bites. We had to get the house sprayed. Ugh.

    Second childhood story … I went to school with a girl who had 2 cats. Her home was … um … FILTHY. I don’t think her parents owned a vacuum, cleaning spray or a trash can. The cats picked up ring worm who then spred it to the people living in the house. I can clearly remember seeing the ring worms under my friend’s skin. BLECH … I am shuddering at the memory of it.

    So, even if you are a self-proclaimed crazy cat woman you are a wonderful one for taking such good care of that sweet little kitten. No wonder that other cat was running away from its crazy owner. She sounds like a REAL CRAAAAAAAZY cat woman!

  • Meg

    Ew. Worms are gross…but completely normal and easily treatable. Charcoal is worth the trouble right? Adorable!

  • rachel

    Puppies and kitties both commonly get worms when they’re little. A little known icky fact. I remember seeing what I thought was a grain of rice on my dog’s butt once and being like “Mom, why does she have rice on her butt?” Yuck!

    I’d still take him if I didn’t already have too many. ;)