Ivermectin for Cats

Ivermectin is a medication best known for heartworm prevention, although it has several common uses. Treatment and prevention of parasitic infections with ivermectin is an effective way to keep your cat healthy. Ivermectin works by paralyzing the offspring of most adult worms, resulting in death. While it does not kill adult worms, it has been shown to slow down the reproduction rate resulting in fewer worms in the bloodstream, in the eyes and on the skin.

Heartworm Prevention

heartworm is a parasitic roundworm spread to cats through mosquito bites. Untreated infection of heartworms in cats can result in pulmonary inflammation and/or respiratory disease. Ivermectin is an ingredient in several of the most effective heartworm prevention and treatment products on the market today. Ivermectin dosages for monthly prevention of heartworms are available under several brand names that can be purchased only with a prescription. Ivermectin successfully treats heartworm larvae. Cats currently diagnosed with heartworm disease will likely be given alternative treatment options.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are extremely contagious and cause severe itching in cats. Ivermectin can be used as effective treatment for this condition. Ivermectin is available in many forms including, topical, oral and injectable. Injectable ivermectin may be an option for cats uncooperative with oral or topical treatment, as this drug is highly distasteful.

Other Uses for Ivermectin

Ivermectin has also been used to treat other infectious parasites in cats. Many types of intestinal worms can be treated effectively with this drug, though it has been shown to be ineffectual against tapeworms. Some types of lice can be treated with ivermectin, but it is questionable whether this medication is effective against fleas. This drug has also been used to treat mange in cats, though it may be prescribed off-label. Off-label describes the practice of prescribing a medication for uses other than those that have been approved by the FDA.

Side Effects and Precautions

Dosages of Ivermectin contained within prescription medications are low. Side effects will not generally be of concern when these products are used properly and as directed. Products containing Ivermectin are available for cats, as well as other species including dogs, horses, cattle and small animals such as guinea pigs and rats. While you can purchase Ivermectin over-the-counter at local feed stores and through some online retailers, it is not recommended to do so for cats. Non-prescription Ivermectin contains high dosages used primarily for larger animals like cattle and horses, and is lethal to small animals.

Ivermectin Toxicity

Ivermectin toxicity can occur when excessive doses of this drug are administered. While toxicity is less common in cats than in other species, it is possible. Some species have a sensitivity to ivermectin and may become ill. This sensitivity more common in certain breeds of dogs, however, if your cat experiences twitching, blindness, distress, depression or other neurological symptoms such as lack of coordination or muscle movements, after administration of ivermectin in any form, the cat may have developed a toxic reaction to the drug.