Worms make people uncomfortable when they see them. So, it’s understandable why cat deworming is one of the least delightful topics in pet care.
However, as a feline parent, you must know how to deworm a cat to prevent these intestinal parasites from making your adult cats and kittens sick.
Why Is Cat Deworming Important?
It's nasty and unsettling to even consider your cat having worms. Nobody wants their cute pet, who sleeps right next to them, to have worms. While it's rare for us, humans, to get worms from our cats if they sleep with us, it's still possible.
Most importantly, you should deworm your feline companion to keep him safe from the harmful complications of an infestation. The presence of worms can be anything from somewhat bothersome to seriously dangerous. Cats and kittens who are medically weak or elderly are more susceptible to health problems from these nasty parasites. Due to vomiting and diarrhea, they risk developing anemia or becoming extremely dehydrated.
Intestinal blockage, a deadly illness, can result from a kitten having too many worms to pass through his gastrointestinal tract. Negative effects on growth and development can also be experienced by infected kittens who are not dewormed. And while healthy adult cats rarely experience serious health problems as a result of possessing worms, they are still in harm's way and deworming can place them on a healthier and safer path.
How Will You Know If Your Cat Has Worms?
The most common way to know if your cat has worms is to see the worms by yourself. However, when it comes to these intestinal parasites, “To see is to believe does not always work,” because infected cats don’t usually have outward signs of the illness.
So, waiting for your cat to pass on worms in his feces is not always recommended. Your cat can still have intestinal worms and eggs inside his system, which can be identified with the help of a routine fecal exam.
Alternatively, you can observe your cat and watch out for the following symptoms:
- Coarse fur
- Bloated Stomach
- Pale Gums
- Dragging his butt on the ground
Sometimes, there are segments of a tapeworm that are packed with eggs that you may see in the feces or vomit that seem white. These fragments are shaped like white rice grains.
Extreme vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and sensitive anus are just a few of the many symptoms that a serious infection may bring on. The abdomen of an infected kitten could swell or it might experience slow growth. If you are in doubt, it’s best to consult your veterinarian.
Different Types of Worms
There are several types of intestinal worms or parasites in cats, and each type can be contracted by your feline companion in different ways.
Approximately 45% of cats are suffering from intestinal infections at the moment. In adult cats, parasite infestation may cause diarrhea and nausea. However, if a severe infestation occurs mainly on kittens the symptoms can become more severe, such as anemia, malnutrition, and growth retardation.
Also, there are certain parasites that your typical dewormer won't treat in some kittens. Ask a veterinarian to perform a fecal exam to test for other parasites if the kitten has been dewormed but her stool doesn't appear quite right. These parasites include:
Coccidia – a nasty small single-celled organism that can be treated with the prescription medications Ponazuril or Albon that can cause mucousy diarrhea in kittens
Giardia – This is another protozoan infection that causes greasy, soft, and frothy diarrhea in cats and kittens, which can be treated with Panacur
Tapeworm – a parasitic worm that is discovered in kittens with fleas. It's possible to see tapeworm segments in the feces; they resemble tiny grains of white rice. To get rid of them, you can treat your cat with Praziquantel
Roundworms – these parasites are typically found in cats, particularly in kittens, and are huge (3 to 6 inches), smooth, and round. If your cat only has a few roundworms, you might not notice any signs. Large infestations of worms in kittens can result in a pot-bellied look, vomiting, diarrhea, a lack of appetite, a dull coat, and stunted growth. Roundworms may also be visible in your cat's feces or vomit.
Hookworms – these are tiny, blood-sucking parasites that attach to a cat's intestinal wall and are practically invisible without the aid of a microscope. Anemia, weight loss, and a dull coat are symptoms of hookworm infection in cats. Cats with hookworm infections occasionally have dark, tarry-looking stools.
Also Read: Top 5 Best Cat Dewormers 2023
How to Deworm a Cat
What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Cat Has Worms?
If your cat has persistent diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, you may be easily tempted to treat him by yourself using over-the-counter deworming medication. However, this is not advisable since different parasites react to different types of medications. Hence, if you self-medicate your cat, you may simply be introducing drugs into his system that won’t help with his underlying medical condition.
Having said this, it’s important to consult your vet first if you suspect your cat has worms. Your veterinarian may do fecal testing to determine the culprit, or you may also request a simpler “ova and parasites” fecal test, which is more affordable.
The “ova and parasites” test can point out the presence of common parasites such as coccidia, giardia, and common worms. You may also request a more extensive PCR test, which also provides information about viruses, bacterial infections, and more.
Once the culprit has been identified through the test, you should strictly follow the treatment regimen. Don’t delay treatment. Kittens are highly susceptible to parasites, which require immediate treatment. Consult a veterinarian within 48 hours if your kitten's stool appears soft, mucousy, or otherwise alarming. If your kitten's stool is watery, you should seek veterinary help within 24 hours.
When Should You Deworm Your Cat?
In general, roundworms and hookworms should be treated as a prophylactic measure in all kittens. With a veterinarian's assistance or the appropriate over-the-counter medication and knowledge, this can be accomplished at home. Dewormers can be administered as early as 2 weeks of age, and they need to be given again at 4 and 6 weeks.
You only need the following to deworm your kitten at home:
- Digital food scale
- 1 cc syringe
- 1 bottle of Pyrantel Pamoate
First, use your digital scale to weigh your cat. Next, give the kitten the recommended dose following the directions on the bottle. Fill the syringe with the dewormer, then inject it into the kitten.
As mentioned earlier, the typical deworming procedure does not eliminate all parasites. Hence, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from your vet if your cat exhibits prolonged gastrointestinal distress so you can administer the appropriate medication.
Best Cat De-wormers and Intestinal Parasite Preventive Medications in 2023
1. Bayer Drontal Broad-Spectrum Dewormer
Best Broad-Spectrum Dewormer: Bayer Drontal broad-spectrum dewormer can knock out a variety of intestinal worms, including tapeworms, hookworms, and large roundworms. We recommend Drontal tablets because they are safe, and effective, and kill all parasites within seven days.
No other standard cat dewormer eliminates as many types of intestinal parasites as Drontal. Each tablet is packed with two potent ingredients, pyrantel pamoate and praziquantel, which work together in killing hookworms roundworms, and tapeworms.
Drontal tablets are scored for appropriate dosing, and they can be easily crumbled and mixed with your cat’s favorite food for easy administration. Drontal is safe for cats and kittens that are at least 8 weeks of age and weigh at least 2 pounds.
This broad-spectrum dewormer also has a low risk for side effects, and if there are, some of the possible unusualities that you need to watch out for include salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and incoordination. If your cat is sick after receiving this medication, consult your veterinarian immediately.
2. Droncit Tablet for Cats
Best Oral Tapeworm Dewormer: Two of the most typical types of tapeworms in cats, Taenia taeniaeformis and Dipylidium caninum, can be treated with the oral medicine Droncit, which is specially formulated for cats and prescribed by veterinarians. This dewormer is simple to crumble and incorporate into your cat's preferred food for simple administration.
Droncit Tablets effectively and safely treat tapeworm infections in cats and kittens 6 weeks of age and older. Praziquantel, the active component in each tablet, has a 24-hour half-life and paralyzes and kills tapeworms when taken. With just one dose, this ingredient can completely eradicate the two most prevalent kinds of tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis).
Effective tapeworm removal necessitates treating your cat for fleas as well because cats can be re-infected by eating another flea.
3. Centragard Topical Solution for Cats
Best Topical Tapeworm Dewormer: Centragard, from the creators of Heartgard Plus, is a broad-spectrum monthly medicine that vets recommend for cats to help treat and control roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms, as well as prevent heartworm.
This medication is designed specifically for cats that are seven weeks of age or older and weigh 1.8 to 5.5 pounds. The best part is that it features an easy-to-use applicator, allowing you to quickly and easily apply the treatment to your feline companion's skin.
Eprinomectin and praziquantel, the active components of Centragard, work to kill worms and stop further infection. The two most prevalent species of tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis), two types of hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Ancylostoma braziliense), one type of roundworm (Toxocara cati), and heartworms can all be successfully treated with the help of these ingredients.
To effectively treat your cat for tapeworms, you must also treat your cat for fleas because cats can re-infect themselves by ingesting another flea.
4. Interceptor Chewable Tablet
Best Oral Parasite Preventive: Interceptor oral parasite prevention is a great choice for pet parents who wish to give a flavorful chewable tablet rather than a spot-on or topical product because it covers more parasites. Also, for a multi-pet household, giving a topical product comes with the risk that other cats in the house might lick the medicated area.
Each pill of this oral parasite preventive protects cats for 30 days, and it’s also safe for kittens as young as 6 weeks of age. Additionally, this chewable tablet doesn’t only prevent deadly heartworm disease in cats, but it also treats and controls adult hookworm, roundworms, and adult whipworms – thanks to its active ingredient milbemycin oxime.
What’s more, Interceptor chewable tablet is so tasty that you can give it to your cat as a flavorful treat, or you can easily add it to his favorite food for added flavor.
To get Interceptor, you need a prescription from your pet's veterinarian. Your cat needs a heartworm test before beginning this preventative medicine and then once a year after that, just like with all other heartworm drugs.
5. Revolution Plus Topical Solution for Cats
Best Topical Parasite Preventive: With the help of this 6-in-1 broad-range monthly topical solution for cats by Revolution Plus, you can help shield your pet against bothersome pests. And unlike the other top-rated topical parasite preventives, Revolution Plus is safe for kittens 8 weeks of age or older, weighing between 5.6 to 11 pounds.
To use this product, simply apply the small-volume, quickly-drying prescription to assist in killing fleas before they lay eggs, killing ticks for one month, preventing heartworm disease, and treating and controlling roundworms, hookworms, and ear mites.
This monthly spot-on treatment is easy to apply in one location to the cat's skin between the shoulder blades once every 30 days. A tiny amount of this liquid medication is absorbed through the skin and immediately dries, leaving nothing behind.
To get Revolution Plus, you need a prescription from your veterinarian. Your cat needs a heartworm test before starting this medicine and then once a year after that, as is the case with all heartworm drugs. Revolution Plus should not be administered to cats who have a history of seizures or other neurologic conditions.
How Can You Prevent Your Cat From Getting Worms?
Preventive care is the key to keeping your cats free of worms, and other nasty and dangerous parasites. And there’s no better way to do this than by giving your feline companion regular parasite preventive medications year-round.
It’s a common misconception that we should only give preventives in the spring and summer. Veterinarians recommend that we keep our cats on a broad-spectrum preventive every month without a miss. Certain parasites are active during various months, and the activity of parasites might change depending on where you reside. Additionally, even during the winter, parasites can become active earlier than predicted.
We can't deny that outdoor cats are most at risk of getting intestinal parasites, including hookworms, roundworms, and heartworms, as well as fleas and ticks. However, even indoor cats, require regular parasite prevention. Cats living inside the home may still be exposed to other parasites, and fleas can be brought in by other pets or even on your clothing.
Aside from giving our cat parasite preventives, it’s also crucial to observe simple practices that can help in keeping these pests away from our pet’s body. You can start by vigorously cleaning water bowls, food bowls, syringes, needles, tubes, and bottles after use.
To ensure the safety of other cats as well as the safety of the new kitten, keep in mind to quarantine every new kitten that enters the house. Your cat can be free of fleas and never exhibit tapeworm symptoms, but a flea can still jump onto your cat, then return to the kitten, where it can be consumed and spread tapeworms.
What’s more, you should not forget about your cat’s litter box. Make sure that it is always clean. Scoop the boxes daily, and clean and wash them thoroughly once or twice a week.
Additionally, it’s also best if you can take your cat to the vet for his routine wellness and fecal examinations.
Can You Get Worms From Your Cat?
Yes. Even though it is quite unlikely if you maintain good hygiene (especially handwashing), you can catch some worms from your cat. By deworming your cat and keeping it from getting worms, you can safeguard your cat, your family, and yourself.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Cat Dewormer or Parasite Preventive
While you can easily purchase a cat dewormer online or at any pet shop near you, it’s still recommended to always take your cat to the vet first for a physical exam and fecal test. By doing this, you can get a definitive diagnosis of your cat’s problems. Specifically, you will know what type of worm your cat has. And as a result, you can use an appropriate dewormer since different cat dewormers treat different types of worms.
Your cat could also require follow-up deworming and a follow-up fecal check to ensure no parasites are left, depending on the type of worms discovered. Moreover, by seeking veterinary advice, your cat can also be assessed for other health issues that need to be addressed.
All cats need to be dewormed regularly all year round. And using a deworming medicine that has been prescribed by a veterinarian is the most secure and efficient way to deworm your cat.
Your vet’s assistance would greatly help considering the different types of worms that can infest your feline companion, as well as the different medications and preventives for all these nasty parasites.
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