Worms — the mere mention of the word is enough to ruin any cat owner’s appetite. Unfortunately, intestinal worms are a very common health problem for cats and they can cause a range of potentially serious health problems, so here’s how to keep your cat safe from these nasty little parasites.
Common Worms in Cats
There are four main worms cat owners need to protect their kitties against:
Spread by fleas or when your cat eats an infected rodent, tapeworms are to blame if your cat has been scooting to scratch her itchy backside. Keep an eye out for small worm segments, which look like grains or rice, near your cat’s bottom or in their litter tray.
These problem parasites are common among Aussie cats and are spread via the faeces of infected animals. Roundworms can cause severe problems for kittens, including vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and a pot-bellied appearance. Unfortunately, these slimy suckers can also infect humans. The larvae can reach the eyes, brain or liver causing serious damages.
Hookworms live in your cat’s intestine and feast on blood. Transmitted via infected faeces, they can also be passed on from a mother to her kittens before birth or during nursing. Diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss and even anaemia can result from a hookworm infection.
Although heartworm is more commonly associated with dogs —and it does occur more frequently in canines —it can also affect our feline friends. While some cats won’t show any symptoms when they have heartworm, others can suffer breathing difficulties, coughing and even sudden death. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes.
How to Tell if Your Cat Has Worms
Now we’ve got all the gross details about the different types of worm out of the way, it’s time to list a few key symptoms that could indicate your cat has worms. Common signs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- A dull coat
- Anaemia (look for pale skin and gums)
- Worm segments (these look like grains of rice) in your cat’s poo or around their anus
- Pot-bellied appearance
If your cat shows any of these symptoms, head to your vet for a check-up.
Worm Prevention for Cats
When you consider all the health issues that worms can cause for your cat, not to mention that they also pose a health risk to humans, it’s clear that worming your cat is vital. From worming pastes to worming tablets, there are plenty of worm prevention products available for your cat.
Kittens need to be wormed every two weeks until they reach the 12-week age mark, then once a month until they turn six months. Worming tablets usually need to be given to adult cats every three months, but you’ll need to follow your vet’s advice and any dosage instructions when protecting your feline against these unpleasant parasites. Some popular cat worming brands include:
- Revolution – this spot-on liquid is applied monthly and kills heartworm, intestinal worms (not tapeworm) and fleas
- Milbemax – a tablet that prevents roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm
- Advocate – a spot-on liquid that is applied once a month to control heartworm, intestinal worms (not tapeworm) and fleas
- Drontal – a tablet that prevents roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm
- Profender – this spot-on treatment kills all types of intestinal worms and can be used every three months
- Purina Total Care – Purina offers a tablet or a paste that can be used every three months to treat roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm
- Felex Plus – a paste that combats roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm
- Heartgard Plus – a monthly treat that controls roundworm, hookworm and heartworm
There are several other simple steps you can take to protect your cat against worms, including:
- Worming all the pets in your household, including dogs
- Cleaning up after your pet
- Ensuring that children wash their hands after playing with your cat
Devising an adequate parasite protection plan for your cat can be a little confusing and even overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to ask your vet for advice — he or she can tell you everything you need to know to keep your cat safe from worms.