‘Curiosity killed the Cat’ isn’t just a proverb, it does have some truth to it in reality. Cats are naturally inquisitive animals, and this drives them towards licking and eating random objects that they should avoid. Indeed, your cats can suffer from many health issues due to this habit, including parasitic worm attacks. In this article, we will educate the important points on worm infestations in cats and also provide some simple steps that you can use to deworm your cat easily at home.
Types of worms in commonly found in cats
The most common parasitic worms that are usually found in cats are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. Lungworm, heartworm and liver fluke infestations can sporadically occur in cats as well, and sometimes they can be fatal.
How do worms get into your cat ?
Worm infestations are very common in cats because of their grooming habits. Cats are meticulous groomers, and they often ingest the fleas and ticks that are crawling on their skin while grooming themselves.
It is usually recommended that certain cat breeds should remain indoors as much as possible, but cats are naturally inquisitive creatures, so they cannot always be kept indoors. These parasites can be carriers of worms or their eggs.
If your cat ingests one of these insects, the eggs that they may be carrying could hatch in your cat’s GI tract and anchor themselves to your cat’s intestinal lining.
Many parasitic worms lay their eggs in fecal matter, and if your cat touches or indirectly ingests this fecal matter, it could suffer from worm infestations. Litter boxes that aren’t changed regularly can become ideal breeding grounds for worms.
Stale meat that is raw or undercooked can also be a breeding ground for many worms, and these worms can reproduce rapidly in your pet’s intestinal tract if precautionary measures are not taken.
If your cat ingests rotten food, it could suffer from a tapeworm infestation. These worms can enter the bodies of kittens as well through their mothers’ milk or placental transmission. Many a times, worms are quite visible in a cat’s fecal matter.
The intestinal worm (larvae) require a vector (bot fly) as a transport host to successfully enter your cat’s body via open wounds or cuts as well, which is compounded by the fact that felines have a habit of licking their wounds vigorously.
Rodents are also prolific carriers of parasites and worm eggs, and if you have a rodent issue in your house, this could cause worm infestations in your cat if they ingest the rodent during hunting.
In fact, it is possible for humans to contract worm infestations, which can be transmitted through contaminated animal feces or cat litter.
Symptoms of worm infestations
Your cat won’t display any symptoms of worm infestation until the eggs it has ingested reach their infective larval stage. This could take several days or weeks, depending on the worm that has been ingested.
The key symptoms for worm infestations can be divided into 2 types: early-stage and late-stage.
Early-stage symptoms can be seen right after eggs hatch in a cat’s GI tract. Some of these symptoms are given below.
- Vomiting and diarrhea (worms can be visible sometimes in the animal’s waste).
- Feces could be black and tarry.
- Weight loss and abdominal distension is common.
- Skin lesions could be visible, along with a dull coat
Late-stage symptoms can occur when the infestation worsens. Some of these symptoms are given below.
- Extreme weakness, weight loss and dehydration.
- Low blood pressure.
- Pale lips and gums.
- Paroxysmal attacks with signs of shock.
Asymptomatic cases of worm infestations have also been reported. Pregnant cats are often asymptomatic even if they are suffering from severe worm-related infections. However, if worms are detected during routine check-ups, they should be appropriately treated.
Your vet may send your pet’s fecal sample to a testing lab to check if your cat is still unwell despite being on timely deworming treatments. That being said, many fecal tests do give false-positive results, hence your vet may run some additional enzyme or PCR tests for further confirmation.
Avoid unproven ‘home remedies’ to deworm cats
Many so-called deworming ‘home remedies’ have been circulating on the internet, which usually involve ingredients like garlic, apple cider vinegar and turmeric. These remedies may sound catchy and appealing, but there is no definitive scientific research out there to prove that they can cure medical ailments such as worm infestations.
At best, these unproven remedies could serve as preventative measures that can improve your cat’s general health, but if your cat is sick and is displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above, the best course of action would still be to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a detailed check-up.
Always use vet-approved over-the-counter (OTC) deworming treatments for your pets. Many OTC products may be convenient to pudfdfchase, but they haven’t gone through rigorous testing to prove their effectiveness. We highly recommend that you consult with your veterinarian before giving any OTC deworming products to your furry friends.
Vet-approved deworming treatments
There are many effective, vet-approved deworming treatments in the market. Broad-spectrum prescription medication is usually prescribed to deworm cat intestines.
Two of the most popular medications in this category are Panacur (fenbendazole, which is usually available as a suspension or a powder) and Drontal (praziquantel/pyrantel pamoate, which is usually given in tablet form). These medications are usually administered orally, and your feline friend may require multiple doses depending on the stage of their worm infestation.
Severe infections related to worm infestations can also make your cats anemic, hence your vet may also prescribe some iron supplements for your cat along with its deworming medication.
If your vet prescribes you drugs to be administered along with your cat’s food, you can help to create a tastier experience by concealing them in soft hollow treats. You can also play with your cat for a few minutes or take it out for a walk to calm it down before you administer the pills. If your cat might be feeling a little weaker, wrapping your cat in a warm blanket or towel first might also help it to relax before serving medication.
A pill popper can also be used if your doctor has prescribed capsules for your pet, However, dry pills may scratch your cat’s oesophagus if they are administered with a pill popper, so you must exercise caution when administering pills in this way. If you are prescribed liquid medication, you can administer it with a small 3ml syringe.
Your vet may also prescribe a one-time injectable treatment such as Praziquantel, which paralyzes and dislodges worms from your cat’s intestines. These dead worms are then passed through the feces.
Flea prevention treatments may also be prescribed for your cat, since tapeworm infestations can recur if you have fleas in your environment. Spot-on treatments such as Advocate for cats are preventative topical treatments that can kill fleas on contact and prevent future infestations for up to 4 weeks. These treatments are often paired with oral treatments or injectables as a part of a holistic treatment plan for your cats.
A better way to apply topical treatments on your cat is to apply it on the base of your cat’s skull or neck. This will make it easy for the medication to spread, and it will eliminate the chances of your cat licking its medication. You will need to also part the cat’s fur to expose the crease of its skin in order to apply such medications. Bear in mind that your cat must not get wet for 24 hours after the medication has been applied.
Frequency of deworming
Kittens are usually dewormed more frequently than older cats and they usually receive their first dose of deworming medication when they are four weeks old. They are then dewormed every two weeks until they are at least three months old. It is advisable to deworm adult cats at least once per year, depending on their risk level. In some cases, your vet may even recommend bi-weekly or monthly deworming.
Technique to administer pills directly
If you are looking to administer pill-form deworming solutions to your cat directly, here are the steps you should follow to manually administer pills to your cats
- Place your thumb on the side of your cat’s head, and your forefinger or middle finger on the other side.
- Gently apply pressure on the side of your cat’s head, until it opens its mouth and tilts its head back. Be very calm and relaxed at this stage, as this will be soothing for your pet as well.
- Gently press down on the cat’s lower jaw with your other hand.
- Place the pill at the back of your cat’s mouth. If you are using liquid medication, apply a few drops on your cat’s inner cheeks and let the medication run down its throat. Do not place any medication directly into your cat’s throat, as this may lead to choking.
- Close your cat’s mouth, apply gentle pressure on its jaw and rub your cat’s throat gently to ensure that the administered capsules have been swallowed.
- Release your cat once your cat is relaxed and you are 100% confident that it won’t spit out its medication.
If you are not confident with administering pills directly to your cat, it is perfectly alright to always inform the vet about your concern to seek an alternative that you are more comfortable with, such as topical solutions.
Sanitize your cat’s surroundings regularly
When it comes to your cat’s health, it is always best to practise proactivity. While medication and treatment is curative, keeping your pet’s surroundings clean and sanitized will help to prevent worm infestations to a great extent. These suggestions can be followed to keep your cat’s surroundings sanitized.
- Wash all of your cat’s favorite pillows and blankets regularly, and if you have rugs in your house, vacuum them thoroughly, as they can be hiding spots for fleas and ticks.
- If you have a garden or a yard, clean organic debris and clippings regularly, as they are hiding spots for insects that carry worms. Spraying an environmentally-friendly pesticide on your plants can also get rid of hidden fleas and ticks.
- Replace your cat’s kitty litter at least once a week, and make sure the litter box is completely sanitized once the litter has been replaced. It is advisable to wear gloves and a mask while doing this.
In conclusion, worms can enter into your cat’s digestive tract in many ways, but worm infestations can be treated easily if deworming treatments are administered promptly and precautions are taken to avoid worm infestations.
It is also advisable to avoid home remedies that are unproven to be effective or over-the-counter (OTC) remedies that have not been endorsed by professionals such as vets. Instead, it is always wise to consult a vet on any solutions before attempting to provide them to your pet.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with valuable information on how you can help to relieve your cat through trusted deworming solutions or even prevent your cat from a painful worm infestation.
If your pet cat happens to be displaying any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, you can contact Zumvet to book a telephonic consultation with licensed, qualified and experienced vets.
To purchase any vet-approved deworming products, you can also visit the Zumshop preventatives page to look for the ones that are suitable for your cat’s situation. If unsure at any point in time, the vets at Zumvet will always be there to advise through a video call as well.