As a responsible cat owner, it makes sense to ensure that fluffy is as healthy and happy as possible. I’ve been a cat owner my entire life and I consider myself to be a responsible cat guardian (cats really aren’t owned by us humans; they just let us think so!)
One of the things that I am vigilant on when it comes to my cat’s health is worms. While it’s not as common in adult, indoor cats, they can still get them from time to time. Years ago, when I was researching how to get rid of worms in cats (before the internet) I went to several different sources, including, of course, my veterinarian. I got some good advice back then, and it is still effective today.
If left untreated, worms can be detrimental to a cat’s health, and they can be passed on to humans. If you have multiple cats that share a litter box, it’s a safe bet that the worms have spread to all the cats in your home.
Here are the steps you need to take to ensure your cat is de-wormed and healthy:
1. Try To Identify The Type Of Worms Your Cat Is Afflicted With
There are 3 common types of worms that cats can be afflicted with – roundworm, tapeworm and hookworm. Roundworm is most common in kittens and is caused by infected mother’s milk. If one kitten is infected, then chances are the entire litter is infected with roundworm. Adult cats can get roundworms from an infected rodent or by ingesting the feces of an infected feline.
Adult roundworms are three to four inches in length and resemble spaghetti. Tapeworms are long and flat and can range anywhere from 4 to 28 inches in length. Indications of tapeworm can include vomiting and weight loss. They are caused by ingesting an infected host, such as a flea or a rodent. You may notice yellow-looking segments that resemble sesame seeds on their hind end, or left behind when they get up from their favorite spot.
If you notice these egg sacs on your cat, you’ll need to check other areas of your home for these seed-like segments. They’ll need to be cleaned/laundered/vacuumed accordingly. Although hookworms are more common in dogs than in cats, they can still cause a problem for your feline.
These are much smaller than roundworms and are caused by either skin contact or ingestion. Because they feed on blood, hookworms can lead to life-threatening anemia. While it can be difficult to determine which type of worm your cat is infected with, the more information you can give to your vet, the better treatment your cat will receive.
2. Collect A Stool Sample
This is probably the least pleasant chore of your mission. Keep in mind that it needs to be a ‘fresh’ sample so take it just before you take your cat to the vet. Yes, this means you’ll be invading your cat’s privacy, but it’s all in her best interest. Scoop it into a baggie or other non-reusable container.
If you have more than one cat, you can take samples from each one, but as I stated earlier, if one of your cats is infected, then it’s highly likely that all your cats will be infected.
3. Take Your Cat to The Vet To Confirm The Diagnosis And Prescribe Medication
As much as you love your cat and regardless of how well you think you know her, a qualified veterinarian is the best person to give your cat the proper diagnosis. After a thorough physical exam and tests of the stool, your vet will be able to determine whether or not your cat has worms, and if so, what type they are.
While there are several deworming products on the market that you can get from your local pet store, it’s best to take the advice of your vet as to which medication your cat needs. Depending on the severity and type of infestation, they may need special meds that are prescription-only.
It’s important to listen to the advice of your vet. While there are some home remedies out there for getting rid of worms, most of them are ineffective or downright dangerous. For example, one home remedy suggests giving your cat garlic. This can be fatal for your cat and garlic should NEVER be given as a medication or a treat!
Another thing to consider: if you are not sure of what type of worms your cat has, buying the right over the counter medication can be a challenge. Most medications are meant to only kill one type of worm. The most popular types of medications are Drontal, Droncit, Profender, and Cestex.
4. Administer Medication As Per Instructions
These medications can come in either pill or liquid form. Either way, it won’t be easy to get your cat to ingest it. You didn’t think they’d make it easy did you? Read the instructions carefully and give your cat the exact dose she needs.
Remember to keep your fingers away from her fangs (canines). It won’t hurt to have a first aid kit on hand either! See the pro tip below for advice on how to give your cat medication while still keeping all of your fingers.
5. Offer Preventative Maintenance
Once your cat is worm-free you want her to stay that way. This is particularly important if your cat goes outdoors and is an avid hunter. A flea collar is always a good idea for outdoor cats. Check for fleas on a regular basis. Ask your vet about deworming products that are used for preventative measures.
Pro Tip: Giving Your Cat Oral Meds
Liquid medications will be easier to administer than pill form. For liquids, you can use a syringe or hide the liquid in wet cat food.
For pills, start by holding your cat’s head with your less dominant hand. Tilt her head back and she will likely open her bottom jaw. Put the pill in her mouth as far back as you can; she will close her jaw and when she does, rub her nose or the bottom of her chin – this will make them swallow.
Make sure that your fingers don’t touch the canines or fangs, or you may end up needing some pain medication (just kidding; but really, keep your fingers a good distance away from those sharp teeth).
You can also try making up a ‘meatball’ of wet food with the pill hidden inside. Cats tend to chew their food so they will chew and swallow the pill along with the food.
My goal for writing this was to arm you with the information you need to ensure your cat stays healthy and worm-free. Being ‘owned’ by a cat is a unique experience that dog owners can’t quite comprehend. Their attitude and behavior may be quite different than a dog’s, but they are every bit a part of the family as a dog is.
Did this tutorial help you discover more about how to get rid of worms in cats? Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? How do you prevent your cat from getting worms? We’d love to hear from you about your experiences!