How to Deworm a Cat Efficiently and Safely
A cat is usually infected with several types of worms – hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and tapeworms. These worms not only decrease the quality of a cat’s life but can even threaten other household animals and humans around. That’s why it’s crucial to deworm all household cats whether you have just adopted one or it’s been living at your place for a long time. Kittens should be dewormed according to a precise schedule, too. Every responsible cat parent should pay close attention to parasite symptoms in their pets. Knowing when and how to deworm a cat is a crucial matter. Stay on this page to get credible recommendations by experienced veterinarians.
Table of Contents:
Carrying Out a Diagnosis
Getting sure your pet is infested with worms before giving him a cat dewormer is important. To carry out a diagnosis, adhere to the following steps:
Check the Fecal Matter
Actual worms in a cat’s stool are the direct sign of their presence in his organism. If he is infested with tapeworms, you will find their segments in your pet’s feces. These usually look like tiny rice grains. If the stool is fresh yet, you can even see them move like real worms.
There are many reasons a cat can have diarrhea including intestinal and colon irritation. Intestinal worms cause runny fecal matter sometimes with bloody spots, too. Hence, once you see your pet suffer from diarrhea, collect his fecal or the tiny rice-like worms and take to your vet for a diagnosis.
Be Alert with Your Cat’s Vomiting
Another alarming sign of intestinal worms is vomiting. If a cat is infected with roundworms, he may even vomit with them resembling spaghetti noodles.
However, if your dear pet doesn’t throw up often, the reason might be anything but being infested.
Track Your Cat’s Weight
Most cats suffering from intestinal worms lose weight drastically. Sometimes the numbers are marginal! Despite losing weight, infested cats have rounded bellies that look abnormal. It all depends on the type, as well as the quantity of worms the animal is infested with. If this description fits your pet, he must be suffering from roundworms.
Check the Animal’s Gums
When normal, cats have pink gums. If you notice your pet’s gums have turned pale, that might be caused by the sheer shock or anemia indicating the presence of worms in his body. In case your cat has started breathing with difficulty, you should seek an emergency immediately.
Detect the Worm Type Your Pet Has
Before you start treating your cat, it’s important to learn particularly what type of worms he is infested with. Only this way your veterinarian can make a prescription. So, although you don’t have to know everything about worms types, here are brief descriptions of each common worm type:
- The most common worms cats get infested with are roundworms. Even nursing kittens can get them through their mother milk if the mother cat has roundworms. Adult cats, meanwhile, get them through infected feces.
- Smaller than roundworms, hookworms locate in the small intestine. Even though these worms are more common among dogs than cats, they can still get them through ingestion or skin contact.
- Tapeworms, acquired when fleas are ingested, are mostly seen around the fur on a cat’s hindquarters.
- Lungworms, as the name hints, get located in a cat’s lungs. Such parasites meet quite seldom. A cat can get infested with lungworms when he swallows a host rodent or a bird.
- Heartworms are the most dangerous worms of all the mentioned. Besides, it is very easily transmitted from one animal to another. Even if you keep your cat very clean and control what he eats, he can easily get infested through a mosquitoes’ biting. Heartworm is a serious threat to your pet’s life.
Take Your Infested Pet to a Veterinarian
Knowing how to deworm a cat doesn’t mean you can successfully do that at home. Taking an infected cat to a veterinarian is a must. If will be better if you collect a stool sample and take it to the vet right on the first visit. He will be able to carry out an analysis to detect the worm type. Every worm type requires a certain treatment that can be inefficient with others. So, only after determining what worms your pet is infested with, your vet will be able to give a precise prescription. Here are several points you need to be aware of:
- Deworming treatment is not a one-time deal. Deworming medicine must be given to an infested animal on a weekly or monthly basis.
- You shouldn’t be attracted by the advertisements of herbs or other natural home-based recipes to help your cat get rid of worms. These can help in preventing them, yet won’t help an already-infected animal.
- No matter whether your cat has worms or not, if she gives birth to kittens, take them to a vet for a routine procedure once they are six weeks old. They should be dewormed every two weeks during the first three months of their lives. After this, they must get one deworming procedure every month until six months old.
Treating an Infested Cat
Now, when you fully understand the importance of deworming a cat, it’s time to start the treatment. Follow these steps and soon your beloved pet will be healthier and happier:
Step One: Following the Prescription
Once you have the prescription, obtain the medicine. It’s better to avoid over-the-counter variants, as you can’t be sure of their quality. Deworming medicine can come in different forms including tablets, chewable pills, liquids, granules, injections. You should never choose the medicine yourself, especially if you are treating a kitten. And finally, don’t leave a course of treatment incomplete. Follow the entire course by all means.
Step Two: Be Ready for Side Effects
Even though deworming medicine is designed to affect parasites, it might also be poisonous for the animal to a certain (permissible) extent. That’s why it’s important to give this type of medicine exactly as prescribed by a vet. Your cat may experience such side effects as diarrhea, vomiting, irritation, etc.
Step Three: Treating Hookworms and Roundworms
Most medications treating hookworms are effective against roundworms, too. The most common active ingredients of such medications include milbemycin oxime, pyrantel pamoate, and selamectin. The latter can’t be administered to kittens under 8 weeks old.
Step Four: Dealing with Tapeworms
The most common medications effective in dealing with tapeworms are epsiprantel and praziquantel. Both come in the form of oral tablets. If the first one can be bought only with a prescription, you can find the second one over the counter. Once the treatment is over, you will have to take your pet’s fecal to another test to detect how effective the has been.
Step Five: Don’t Miss Check-ups
Strictly adhering to your veterinarian’s instructions means going to all the appointments. After the treatment, you will be asked to take your pet to the vet to confirm the worm problem has already been completely solved.
Treating an Infested Cat with Oral Medicine
If your veterinarian has prescribed to give your cat oral medication, make sure you do everything correctly. Here are some recommendations for those who have faced worm problems for the first time.
Prepare the Medicine
Take out the pills and put aside the rest. Shake the bottle well if the medicine is in liquid form. It will be easier to administer the liquid dewormer through an eye dropper or an oral syringe. In all cases, be cautious your cat doesn’t notice what you are preparing to give him. If he spots it, he will immediately run away.
Keep the Animal Calm
Giving oral dewormer to an exited cat is simply impossible. Make everything necessary to calm him and only then try to give him his oral dewormer. You can also try to bundle him up with a towel or a small blanket so that he doesn’t scratch or fight you.
Give the Dewormer
Now you are ready to deworm your dear cat. Sit comfortably on the floor with your cat on your lap or between your legs. If you can call someone to help you keep the cat in its place, it will be better. Hold the animal’s head firmly yet gently not to hurt him. For this, place your thumb on one side of his mouth and your forefinger on the other. Don’t lose your hold even if the cat tries to bite you. Tilt his head back and apply gentle pressure on the sides of his mouth so that he opens it. Don’t be anxious or your pet will get restless. Press down his lower jaw with your other hand and place the medicine in his mouth. If it’s liquid, squeeze it to the side of his cheek. If it’s a pill, put it in the back of his mouth, yet be cautious not to put it down his throat as it may cause choking.
Now it’s time to help him swallow the dewormer. Follow these few steps:
- Close your cat’s mouth;
- Lift his jaw a bit;
- Rub his throat gently to trigger the swallowing reflex;
- Keep the pose until the cat swallows the medicine.
- Being calm and gentle to him will prevent him from chocking.
Check if He Has Swallowed the Medicine
Don’t let your cat run away unless you are sure he has swallowed the dewormer. For this let loose the hold on his mouth and see whether he spits the medicine out or not. As a rule, liquid forms are very hard to spit out and cats usually swallow it. Capsules, in the meantime, are more difficult to swallow and cats often spit them out. It’s very important to help your cat associate the deworming process with something pleasant and not dreary. Therefore, once done, praise him much, give him his favorite treats and show your love. Next time, it will be easier for both of you.
Preventing Your Cat from Worms
How often to deworm a cat depends on different factors including his age, lifestyle (indoor vs outdoor), activity, etc. Cats spending much time outdoors hunting rodents and birds are more prone to getting infested with worms. To avoid this and keep your cat healthy, adhere to the following preventing means:
Administering preventative parasite medication to your cat will ensure he is safe from all types of worms. Today multiple medications are effective against fleas, roundworms, hookworms, heartworms, and many other parasites. For instance, selamectin is just that type.
Keep the Cat Indoors
Cats and rodents spending their days outdoors are mostly infested with fleas and other parasites. And if you are guided by the idea of letting your cat show his instincts outdoors from time to time, be aware that he has all chances of getting worms. Therefore, before you take your pet to the sunshine pay close attention to the environmental issues, the road conditions, what animals are hanging around there, etc. If you finally decide not to risk and keep your pet indoors, replace outdoor activity opportunities with scratching posts, special constructions for your cat to climb on, and other suchlike stuff.
Keep the Environment Clean from Fleas
Whether your cat spends time outdoors or not, you should make certain your home and yard are cleaned properly. For this, periodically wash your cat’s blankets, pillows, and all other things he might spend time lying on. Do accurate vacuuming every day and sometimes use a fogger. Due to the latter, you will get rid of fleas and their eggs. Just stay away from your house as long as stated on the fogger can. Once you return home, vacuum the entire house and wipe down all surfaces to clean the dead fleas, flea eggs, and toxins. If cleaning a house from flea is not difficult, the same can’t be said about cleaning a yard. Controlling flea outdoors is time-consuming and laborious. First, you should clean away any organic debris you might have in the yard. This may include grass clippings, straw, leaves, etc. Since fleas mostly locate in humid and dark areas, douse all such areas in your yard with an environmentally safe spray. Strictly adhere to the instructions the manufacturer gives.
Clean the Cat’s Litter Box Often
To stop worms from spreading in your house, you should remove feces regularly. Before you start scooping all the litter into a garbage bag, put on disposable plastic gloves and a face mask. The litter box should be accurately cleaned with an antibacterial spray and paper towels, or washed with soapy water once you have removed the entire litter. Once dry, fill the box with clean litter. The process should be repeated every week or even more frequently depending on how often your cat uses his litter box.