Deworming your cat is an integral part of its overall health and wellness. Kittens are susceptible to internal parasites from their mother, and it is routine to deworm them to clear out any worms that a cat may carry. It is also important for protecting other animals in the household and the human family members as well. Cats that have access to the outdoors or are known to hunt wildlife (such as mice) are recommended to have regular deworming.
What are some types of parasites found in cats?
The most common internal parasites to affect cats in our region are roundworms and tapeworms. If your cat travels outside Alberta with you, they may be at risk of catching heartworm or other parasites.
If my cat has worms, what symptoms should I look for?
Most cats with internal parasites do not show any visible clinical signs unless they have a severe infestation. If symptoms are noted, they may include a pot-bellied appearance in kittens, lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. Roundworms may be visible in stool or vomit (long, spaghetti-like appearance) and tapeworm segments can sometimes be seen in the stool or the fur around the anus (appears like a small grain of rice and may move).
Are worms dangerous to humans?
Roundworms from dogs and cats can be dangerous to humans in some cases when the microscopic eggs (passed in stool) are accidentally ingested. While it is rare in the age of effective deworming and good hygiene, the ingestion of roundworm eggs can lead to what is known as ‘visceral larval migrans’ or ‘ocular larval migrans’ if it affects the eye. Children, pregnant women, and individuals with a compromised immune system are at higher risk. Higher risk individuals should avoid cleaning litter boxes and should wash their hands thoroughly after handling animals that have any chance of carrying parasites. Also, cats who live with any high-risk individuals should be dewormed routinely. Please speak with your veterinarian if you have further questions regarding your cat’s parasite risks and your family’s risk.
What is the deworming schedule?
It is recommended to deworm kittens no later than their first vaccine appointment around 8-10 weeks of age. Your adult cat’s deworming schedule will depend on its individual lifestyle. Our veterinarians can perform an individualized risk assessment, and work with you to develop a deworming schedule that effectively protects your cat.
Are there any side effects from deworming medication?
The most common side effect associated with deworming is the same as any medication that is administered orally – upset stomach. Deworming may cause nausea, and is generally recommended on a full stomach to minimize this risk. If you see nausea or other gastrointestinal signs, such as diarrhea or decreased appetite, inform the prescribing veterinarian.