Worming Advice For Kittens
It is essential to get your new kitten wormed as soon as possible as they will often be carrying worms transmitted from their mother's milk. Call us to book your complimentary health check and one of our Vets will disucss this with you.
What worms can Kittens get?
Most commonly cats get roundworms and tapeworms. These live in the intestines. Tapeworms are long, flat and segmented; whereas roundworms are 8-15 cm long as adults and have a round body (they look a bit like bean sprouts!). Infected cats have microscopic eggs in their faeces. Tapeworms release little segments into the faeces that you can see resembling grains of rice moving around in the hair around your cat’s anus sometimes.
How does a Kitten catch worms?
Round worms can be caught by eating the faeces of another (infected) cat, by eating an ‘intermediate host’ i.e. an infected mouse or rat, or most importantly through the milk of the queen (mother) to her kittens. Previous infections leave some dormant immature larvae in the tissues of the cats body, which when she gives birth migrate to the mammary glands and are excreted in the milk. This means that nearly all kittens are infected at a very young age. It is safest to assume all kittens will be infected!
Tapeworms are often caught via the flea! Flea larvae eat the tapeworm eggs in an infected cat’s faeces. When other cats pick up the fleas and eat them during grooming they also become infected. The other tapeworm species is transmitted via rodents so other cats become infected when they hunt and eat a mouse, vole or rat.
What are the signs of having worms?
Most Kittens show no obvious signs. Heavy infections can partially block the intestines and cause weight loss, vomiting, anaemia and failure to thrive, particularly in kittens.
Human health implications
Humans can be infected with both roundworms and tapeworms. Toxocara is potentially dangerous in children where ingestion of the worm eggs may result in migration of the larvae through the body. If they go to the back of the eye they can cause blindness. Although this is rare, we advise that if you have young children you need to be particularly vigilant with worming of your cat. Of course even if you don’t have children your cat may go where children play.
How frequently should I worm?
Frequent treatment of kittens for roundworms is very important because they are nearly always infected at a young age. We advise worming a kitten monthly until 6 months of age with a product active against roundworms.
Older cats (over 6 months old) are just as likely to be infected with tapeworms so we advise using a product active against roundworm and tapeworm every 3 months. It is important to understand that all worming products can only kill the worms living in the intestines on the day the treatment is given. They cannot protect the cat from reinfection afterwards! This is why repeated regular treatment is the only way to ensure your cat is free of worms.
If your kitten is a hunter and/or occasionally gets fleas then make sure that the wormer you use regularly is active against tapeworms.
Always wash your hands after handling your cat before eating, and make sure that children do too!
‘Drontal Cat’ and ‘Milpro’ are broad spectrum wormers, they treats all the types of worm that cats can get in a single highly effective dose. Some people find it tricky to give tablets to their cat, in which case we are happy to administer the tablet for you. Or we recommend the complete spot on wormer, ’Profender.’