Best Cat Dewormers
As cat owners, our job is to care for and protect our furry friends. Of course this means providing food, water, shelter, and our love, but it also means keeping them well by preventing health problems when we can. One important part of this is protecting cats from parasites like worms, and treating them if worms become an issue. This can be unpleasant to think about, but it’s crucial that we as cat owners are vigilant about treating worms.
Worms in Cats
Cats can get worms from a variety of sources. In kittens, worm infestations often occur as a result of the mother being infested first; the kittens then get worms as they are nursing. Adult cats may get worms from eating prey animals that are infested, or from contact with the feces of an infested animal. It may also be a result of consuming fleas during grooming.
Worms are an extremely common problem in adult cats and kittens. It is one of the most common health problems that occurs in cats, with up to 75% of cats being affected by worms at some point in their lifetime. Although it can be scary to think of a pet having parasites, there is usually no cause for panic with worms. They are extremely treatable, and most affected cats do not experience any serious or long-term problems as a result of having had them.
How do I know if my cat has it?
Some cats may not experience any symptoms when they have worms, and others may experience general symptoms that could be caused by a wide variety of issues. However, there are a few things that you can look out for to know if this could be an issue for your cat:
- Distended stomach - Sometimes a cat will have so many worms in their belly that it looks distended or bloated. This is especially common in kittens with worms, and it may be accompanied by a change in the appearance of their coat.
- Unexplained weight loss - If your cat is losing weight on purpose, or because of another known problem, then there’s no need to jump to the conclusion that worms are involved. But if your cat appears healthy and is eating well, while still losing weight, worms may be to blame.
- Visible worms - In some cases, worms may be visible in the feces or vomit of an affected animal. This is often the only way to diagnose the problem if no other symptoms are present.
- Vet exam - Often, healthy cats don’t show signs of worms until long after they are first affected. If you have any reason to suspect that your cat has been exposed to worms, you can discuss it with the vet to have your pet examined. Depending on your region, your vet may also recommend annual testing for worms.
What can I do?
You will want a veterinarian to verify the worm infestation, but because they are so easy to treat, you can often handle it yourself once you know it exists. Many products are available to help with these problems, including:
- Deworming medication - These medications typically kill adult parasites that are affecting your cat, or flush the parasites out of their digestive system.
- Worm preventatives - reventative medication helps stop infestations from happening in the first place and nips early-stage infestations in the bud.
Cat Tapeworm Dewormer
Tapeworms are a flat intestinal parasite that cats typically get as a result of grooming. If a flea that has consumed a tapeworm egg gets onto a cat and is then ingested during grooming, the tapeworm will attach itself to the cat’s intestines. Typically, tapeworms do not cause any noticeable negative effects in cats, and they are usually only diagnosed when the owner notices segments of the tapeworm in the cat’s feces or vomit and brings it to the attention of a vet, who can advise treatment.
Cat tapeworm dewormer can be administered as an injection, but a simpler option (which can also be done at home) is a tablet. The tablet may be chewable like a treat, or it may be best hidden in food. This medication, once consumed by the cat, kills the tapeworm in the cat’s intestines. After that, it’s usually digested fully by the cat, and no more segments of it appear.
Tapeworm dewormers vary in effectiveness, and different options may be suited for different cases. Although it’s uncommon, cats can experience mild side effects from the medication. Multiple tapeworm dewormers should never be used simultaneously unless specifically directed by your vet, so be sure to consult with them about how you should handle the situation. Similar products are also available to specifically treat other types of worms.
Broad Spectrum Dewormer
Broad spectrum dewormers are effective against multiple types of internal parasites. This typically includes tapeworms (which we have already discussed), roundworms (which affect an estimated 45% of cats in their lifetime), and hookworms (another common type of intestinal parasite). Cats commonly get roundworms after ingesting roundworm eggs from the environment or from a prey animal that was affected by them. Hookworms are commonly ingested as larvae, which may be present in the environment and end up on the outside of the cat’s body, where they are then ingested during grooming.
The most common form of broad-spectrum dewormer is an oral tablet, which can be broken up and hidden in food or treats. They contain multiple different parasite-killing chemicals so that any and all common worms in the cat’s digestive system are killed after the recommended number of doses.
In cases where the type of worm your cat has is difficult to diagnose, broad-spectrum dewormers can be an excellent solution. You are almost certain to kill whatever the worm is, even without identifying it. However, because they contain a combination of medications, broad-spectrum dewormers are significantly more likely to cause side effects in your cat than worm-specific products. You should watch your cat closely after using this treatment, and contact your vet if they appear ill.
Some cat owners may dislike the idea of feeding parasite-killing substances to their cat. If this is the case, natural dewormers may be tried, but it is important to be aware that they may not be as effective as conventional deworming products. Should they fail to rid your cat of the parasites, it may be necessary to supplement with or entirely resort to conventional dewormers.
Natural dewormers are generally not designed to kill worms. Instead, they aim to cause the worms to leave the cat’s intestines, by making the environment inhospitable to them. This means that, unlike conventional treatment in which the cat digests the worms, the worms will be seen leaving the body in the cat’s feces. The process may also be longer than it would be with conventional treatment; it requires enough time for all worms to leave the body, and all remaining larvae and eggs must mature and leave as well, whereas in the conventional treatment they are killed quickly.
There are many herbs and herbal products that can be used as dewormers. However, as many of the herbs that are toxic to parasites are also toxic to pets in large doses, it’s important to carefully measure the amount used and monitor your cat during treatment if you choose to try an herbal method.
Home remedies may also be tried, although the effectiveness is unclear. Some claim that pumpkin seeds, which are known to be anti-parasitic, can cure a cat of worms when added to their diet. Others claim that food-grade diatomaceous earth (fossilized algae often used for pest control) can be added to a cat’s food to treat worms.
Cat Worm Prevention
The best way to take care of a worm problem is to catch it before it starts. There are many general or parasite-specific preventative medications available to help with this. Typically, these are tablets that your cat takes once a month, as a treat or in food, to prevent infestations and treat infestations in early stages before you can even notice them. Cats should be tested for certain parasites prior to starting a preventative like this, as it may not be the best option if they already have an advanced problem.
It’s important to keep your cat up-to-date with all parasite preventatives they might need, not just worms. Other parasites can play a role in worm infestations, so keeping them under control will help keep worms under control, too. For example, since tapeworms are often ingested via adult fleas consumed during grooming, keeping your cat on flea prevention will significantly reduce their risk of getting tapeworms.
Worms are a common problem for cats, but they are easy to treat and easy to prevent. If you suspect that your cat has some type of worms, get them to the vet as soon as possible to have the problem diagnosed and get vet recommendations for treatment. If you have no suspicions or if the vet determines that there are no worms, you may want to consider starting your cat on a preventative, so that you never have to worry about treatment. And of course, don’t panic! Most cats recover from worm infestations quickly, with no serious issues caused by the worms or long-term side effects from the treatment.
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