Deworming a cat isn’t a pleasurable experience for pet owners. It’s hard for the cat and the owner, but knowing how to deworm your feline friend can save its life. The intestinal parasite uses your cat as a host to fulfill its needs, harming its health.
It’s crucial to understand the different types of worms that infect cats. Doing so lets you identify symptoms early and choose an efficient course of action, ensuring a speedy recovery.
In this article, I’ll discuss how you can deworm your cat.
Types of Worms in Cats
Several types of worms are responsible for disturbing your cat’s gastrointestinal tracts and other organs. Some common intestinal parasites include:
Tapeworms in Cats
Such intestinal worms are characterized by their distinct long, flat, and segmented appearance.
Adult worms contain egg sacs. When released from the worm, they enter the feces and are passed on to other animals. You can spot these segments on the hair around the cat’s anus, bed, and litter box. Their resemblance is similar to grains of rice in the infected feces.
Tapeworms must find an intermediate host to complete their life cycle. Animals acting as intermediate hosts vary from small rodents to other cats depending on different tapeworm species.
Hookworms in Cats
Hookworms also belong to the category of intestinal parasites affecting your cat’s digestive tract. The worm is native to several countries worldwide and typically attacks the inner lining of the cat’s intestine once they attach to the surface.
Roundworms in Cats
Roundworms occur in furry felines of all ages, from young kittens to adult cats. The two common types of roundworms that infect cats are called Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina. These are passed in the feces and can remain viable in the environment for several years.
How Are Worms Contracted in Cats?
Outdoor cats are at a greater risk of contracting worms, but indoor cats are still susceptible to intestinal worms. There are several ways your kittens or adult cats can end up with worms, including:
Toxocara cati, a type of roundworm, can be passed via mother’s milk to kittens.
The tissues of infected cats contain dormant and immature larvae. Typically, it causes no further harm. However, when a cat becomes pregnant, these larvae migrate to mammary glands and are passed onto newborn kittens.
Cats are fond of cleanliness. You can often see them engaging in grooming behavior when licking their own and fellow cats’ fur. Unfortunately, some worms, such as Toxascaris leonina, are passed into the cat’s feces.
Cats might accidentally end up ingesting roundworm eggs when grooming other infected animals. In addition, if your cat comes in contact with infected water, grass, or soil, it risks becoming infected with worms.
Rabbits, rodents, and snails are perfect hosts for worms. In addition, cats are born with the innate drive to hunt and might contract worms when hunting infected animals.
Dipylidium caninum is transmitted to cats by fleas. The immature fleas ingest the worm’s eggs, and infection is passed on to a cat when it swallows an infected flea during grooming.
Raw, undercooked, or contaminated meats can lead to your cat contracting worms.
How Do You Know If Your Cat Has Worms?
Cats display a variety of symptoms when infected with worms. You can tell your cat is struggling with a disease when its regular behavior changes suddenly.
Roundworms can cause cats to vomit, sometimes even bringing up adult worms that resemble spaghetti noodles. However, it is crucial to note that vomiting is not always a sign of worms and can be caused by other issues.
If your cat is vomiting excessively, collect some of it in a small bag and take it to your vet for examination. Its vomit contains indicators of worms or other factors causing it.
Different cats react in various ways when infected with worms. For example, some may lose appetite resulting in weight loss, and others develop an extended stomach, better known as a “pot belly.”
Consider taking your cat to the vet if its stomach has recently changed shape.
Fecal Sample Tests
If your cat shows signs of intestinal worms, a veterinarian will recommend submitting a fecal sample for testing. A fecal test can identify the presence of intestinal worm eggs in a sample of your cat’s feces.
Fecal tests also check for other parasites, such as hookworms and roundworms. Depending on the species, treating other parasites will require different medications.
Check Your Cat’s Gums
Healthy cats have pink gums. Schedule a vet appointment immediately if you notice your furry feline’s gums becoming pale.
Alongside those mentioned above, your cat might also display the following symptoms:
- Bloated stomach
- Coarse fur
- Dragging their bottoms on the ground
How Can You Deworm Your Cat?
The safest way to deworm a cat is by using a veterinarian’s prescribed deworming medication.
A treatment that works for one worm species will not work for others. Therefore, vets consider the results from blood and stool samples and prescribe the most efficient course of action.
Oral Medications for Cats
Medications for parasites come in liquid and solid forms. Vets often recommend preventative measures alongside parasite medication to safeguard against fleas and ticks.
You can opt for oral medication because it’s easier to administer. You can mix it with the food or disguise it as a treat using pill pockets. If you’re still having trouble, consider investing in a pill gun or syringe. You can also crush the medication and mix it in with the food.
Topical Medications for Cats
Topical medications fall under the preventative measures category. They’re oil-based and are applied on the affected areas of the cat or as guided by your vet.
Before applying the deworming medication, use a comb to part its fur. Then, apply the contents of tropical medicine and gently massage it on its skin.
It’s recommended that your cat doesn’t get wet in the next 24 hours to allow the medication to work. Ensure it stays indoors and doesn’t lick the topical medication. You can use a cat funnel (cone of shame) to prevent it from grooming itself.
Worm Treatment for Cats
Knowing the proper medication is only half the treatment. First, you must ensure it’s administered over the recommended course to eliminate all parasites.
Obtain the Necessary Medication for Your Cat
It would be best if you never tried to deworm your cat using over-the-counter medication. Instead, always check in with your vet first, especially when dealing with kittens.
Your cat will likely be prescribed a series of pills. If administering is challenging, you can experiment with liquids, topical treatments, and chewable.
Once the necessary medication has been obtained, listen closely to the instructions provided by the veterinarian. Often cat owners don’t follow through with the recommended course of treatment once their pet starts feeling healthy.
You must continue administering medication to your furry friend, whether oral or topical, even if it exhibits healthy behavior.
Be Prepared for Side Effects in Your Cat
Deworming treatments can be emotionally challenging for cat owners. In addition, the prescribed medication can cause side effects, including vomiting and diarrhea. Before administering medication, communicate with the vet regarding expected side effects.
If you believe your cat is behaving oddly or not responding well to the medication, document its behavior and let the vet know.
Regular Checkups for Your Cat
Regular checkups with your vet ensure your cat responds well to the treatment. Once the treatment course is complete, the vet will ensure your pet is free from worms by running extensive tests.
Administering the Medication To Your Cat
- Ideal Delivery System: The perfect medication delivery system depends on its type. If liquid, shake up the bottle and place it in an eye dropper or oral syringe. If your cat is prescribed tablets, consider grinding them and mixing them in with the food,
- Keep Your Kitty Calm: When preparing the medication, keep it out of your kitty’s sight. If your cat despises medication, it’ll learn to spot cues when you’re about to administer it and disappear for hours. To calm your cat, you can try petting it or introduce mentally stimulating toys.
- Swaddle Your Cat: Even domestic cats can react violently when fed medicine. To keep your cat from scratching or fighting you, wrap it in a small blanket or pillowcase.
Ensure your feline friend doesn’t feel suffocated. If it resists, try again later at a better time.
- Administering medication alone is challenging; an extra set of hands will make the job easier. Enlist a friend’s help and ask them to hold the cat’s head securely while you attempt to feed it the medicine.
- Place your forefinger and thumb on opposite ends of the cat’s mouth while forming a fist. Your hold should be strong enough to prevent it from biting you, but it shouldn’t be too tight.
- Tilt its head back and apply pressure on both ends of the mouth. It should force it to open its mouth. If not, use your other hand to keep the cat’s mouth open.
- Place the medication inside its mouth. Add it to the side of one cheek if it’s a liquid. Forcing the prescription down can result in your cat choking and even vomiting.
- You’ll need to help your cat swallow the medicine because it’ll likely spit out. First, let it close its mouth and gently position its face so its nose points upwards. Then, you can trigger the swallowing reflex by stroking its throat.
- Repeat the motion briefly to ensure your cat swallows the medicine.
- Remove the blankets and pet them for behaving well. Then, you can reward it with a treat, cuddles, or extra playtime.
How Can You Prevent Your Cat from Getting Worms?
When it comes to protecting your kitten from parasites, preventative care is vital. Get in touch with your vet regarding specifics. They will recommend the best medications to protect against worms, fleas, and other parasites.
Eliminate Fleas: To protect your cat from fleas, wash its favorite blankets, pillows, and clothing regularly. Also, ensure you’re thoroughly vacuuming its spaces and any rugs it lays on frequently. You can occasionally fog the place, but only in extreme cases.
If your living space comes with a yard, you’ll need to remove organic debris, such as leaves, dirt, and grass clippings, regularly.
Clean the Litter Box: Your cat’s litter box harbors all kinds of bacteria. You should clean it out after every use, especially if your cat is deworming.
Equip yourself with a face mask and gloves, scoop the litter into a garbage bag, and dispose of it safely. Use disinfectant wipes to sanitize the litter box and its immediate area.
How Often Should I Deworm My Cat?
As a general rule of thumb, recently adopted cats should always undergo deworming, especially if it’s a multi-cat household.
Kittens are highly vulnerable to roundworms. Therefore, the usual course for treatment takes place every 2 to 3 weeks until it’s eight weeks old. Following this, the treatments occur monthly, and the frequency decreases as the kitten ages.
Tapeworms typically use adult cats as hosts. Consider using a product effective against roundworms, tapeworms, and preventative medication to eliminate fleas.
Can You Get Worms From Your Cat?
Even though it is rare, some worms can be passed from animals to humans. Basic hygiene will protect you from such instances, including hand washing and sanitization after petting your cat. Your vet can advise you regarding the best hygiene practices when deworming it.
Why Is It Important To Deworm Your Cat?
Worms may not initially impact your cat’s health, but the longer they stay inside the host, the more severe the damage will be. In addition, medically compromised cats are at a higher risk of suffering from anemia and dehydration if not treated promptly.
Prolonged exposure to worms can result in intestinal blockage, urinary tract infections, and even death in the worst-case scenario.
Final Thoughts on Deworming Your Cat
Cat deworming might seem tedious, but if you work alongside your vet, you’ll ensure your feline friend’s healthy and long life.
Always keep track of your cat’s behavior, especially kittens. If something seems odd, get in touch with your vet.
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