Deworming Your Cat – How Often Should This Be Done?

By: Thomas Hunter

Before you introduce a new cat into your family, consider all of the issues related to ensuring its good health. Regular flea treatments, veterinarian visits, vaccinations, kitty kibble and of course, entertaining toys are all a part of maintaining a happy, healthy cat. There is one major consideration to think about as well in regards to their health – the deworming process. How often should this be done? What types of worms plague cats? What are the health concerns in regards to worms? These worm issues, many times, consist of a large part of their health maintenance.

Practically all kittens are born infected with some type of worm. These worms can and usually are transmitted through the mother’s milk or while the kittens are still inside the mother’s womb. Unless the mother lives in pristine conditions (think sterile clean rooms), expect that your newborn kitten will have worms. The same goes for an older cat as well. It takes a lot of work to keep cats worm-free. For the most part, veterinarians will say to deworm your cat, as needed. But how do you know exactly what “as needed” means? There are a few indicators which will help you decide when the deworming process is necessary.

Indicator #1 – If your kitten was found as a stray, don’t assume anything. If you decide to keep the kitten, make sure that a veterinarian visit is on your list of priorities. Deworming will be a given. If your cat is a pet that likes to prowl, catch mice or other small animals, it is more likely than not highly susceptible to worms. Wild animals are the perfect hosts for carrying worm larvae and if your cat consumes it, they will develop a worm problem.

Indicator #2 – Suppose your cat is predominantly an indoor pet. They can still develop worms but the problem could be harder to detect. If your cat develops a heaving problem or occasionally has retching episodes, these behaviors are a good indicator that your cat is trying to rid itself of worms. Also, vomiting the worms up is, of course, a clear indication that your cat needs to be dewormed immediately. More than likely, the worms vomited up are roundworms and resemble spaghetti in appearance. Sometimes, tapeworms are a culprit. Tapeworms are flat and segmented.

Indicator #3 – It is important to note that worm testing at the veterinarian’s office does not always show a positive result for worms. Vets test the feces of your cat and unless the worms are actively migrating or on the move, these worms can lie dormant within the cat host body for long periods of time. It is only when some type of stress factor occurs (like pregnancy or surgery) that the worms would show itself in a fecal exam.

Indicator #4 – If your cat’s appetite changes or it develops diarrhea, those are some possible indicators of a worm infection. A dull coat of fur or the growth of a pot-belly is other indicators. In addition, if you ever see your cat nibble on the feces of another animal, you might as well be prepared to go through a deworming of your cat.

For the most part, testing of your cat’s feces is the best bet to determine what type of worm infestation your cat may have. Without a proper worm diagnosis, your cat cannot receive the correct medication. This means that medication for roundworms sometimes does not work for tapeworms or other species like the hookworm or whipworm. By determining the correct species, you can be ensured of a successful deworming.

It is important to note that most medications come in liquid or in some type of pill. Since cats can be a bit ornery, you have to ensure that they actually take their medicine and ingest it. Disguising the deworming medication in their cat food or other treat is the simplest way. Another thing to be aware of is that it may take several treatments of deworming medication to completely rid your cat of worms. The reason for the possibility of multiple treatments is that the worms may be in different stages of development and not all stages are susceptible to the treatments. However, multiple treatments will ensure a worm-free kitty.

The bottom line on deworming your cat is just as your veterinarian says: do it on an “as-needed” basis. Frequent trips to the vet for fecal testing as well as keeping a sharp eye on your beloved cat will make all the difference in the world when it comes to determining the frequency of the deworming process.

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