Worms in cats is a common problem that can seriously affect the health of your cat if left untreated. Tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms and roundworms are intestinal parasites that can be passed on to your cat in a number of ways and can be highly contagious. Preventing worms before problems appear, however, will keep your pets healthy and prevent a trip to the vet's office.
Preventing Worms in Cats
- Maintain a hygienic environment: Fecal matter or bodily fluids left outdoors or in your yard is a common source of parasites in pets. Your cat may also be exposed to worms through contaminated soil.
- Keep your yard clean by clearing damp areas and leaves and supervise your cat if he is outdoors to prevent contact with feces and fluids.
- Watch what your cat eats: It is also important to supervise your cat when he is outside and watch for any contact with other animals; rodents, insects and birds are common carriers of parasites. Fleas are usually found on these animals and can carry parasites,; once the cat eats the flea the parasite may develop in his digestive tract. Ingesting raw or undercooked meats can also cause worms in cats.
- Monthly medications: Many once-a-month heartworm medications also prevent some types of intestinal parasites like tapeworms. Oral and topical medications like Drontal and Revolution are also available. Talk with your veterinarian about a monthly medication and if it's right for your cat. Do not give a medication for dogs to your cat without consulting your vet.
- Keep infected animals in isolation: If you own multiple cats or pets always isolate an infected animal from your other pets. Keep litter boxes, food bowls and sleeping areas separate to prevent worms, which can be highly contagious, from spreading. It is also important to keep young children away from these infected animals.
- Strengthen your cat's immune system: Kittens and cats with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to worms. Feed your cat a balanced and nutritious diet and consider vitamin supplements to boost immunity. Talk with your veterinarian about multivitamins and a diet to suit your cat.
- Dewormers: Dewormers, or anthelmintics, can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a veterinarian. Kittens can be infected with worms through their mother's milk and are also more likely to become infected due to their weak immune systems. Kittens should be dewormed at 6 weeks and again at 8 and 10 weeks old. Regular deworming schedules can be arranged with your vet's office. If your pregnant cat has worms it is usually best to wait until after the mother has her kittens to start deworming.
- Fecal examination: Adult cats should have their feces tested one to two times a year at the vet's office to determine if they are infected with parasites. Worms can be difficult to diagnose and are not usually visible to the naked eye. Fecal exams are an effective way to catch parasites before serious infestations develop. If your cat is not taking medications to prevent parasites a fecal exam may be needed two to four times a year.