The ownership of a cat is not necessarily a straightforward and undemanding role.
Cats carry parasites, and when we think of this, we most likely think of fleas. Unfortunately, they can also pick up worms in their gut.
So how do you treat a cat with worms?
And what can you expect after deworming a cat?
Worms are more likely to occur in cats who venture outside and interact with nature. They are, however, not inclusive to just those outdoor adventurers. A cat with worms is very common and not something to be alarmed about; as long as every cat owner is aware of this and, in turn, sets up a regular preventative regime, then the worms will be kept at bay.
Treatment for the deworming of your kitten is not only beneficial to your cat’s welfare but also to your family’s health. Worms, if left untreated, can spread to humans (predominantly children) and other animals.
Although this transmission to humans is rare, it can occur as simply as a child putting their soiled hands in their mouth or eating without washing their hands. The key here is to always wash your hands after being in contact with any animal.
What to Expect After Deworming a Cat
A regular deworming plan is required, but what can you expect after deworming a cat?
What Is Deworming?
Deworming is the administering of medication to the cat to effectively kill any worms. This needs to be done routinely and is a relatively easy exercise that can be done by the owner, although some may prefer the Veterinarian to do this.
Dewormers are typically oral medications and can be purchased from a veterinarian, pet store, or supermarket. There are different dosages available for different sizes or ages of kittens or cats. Some medications can treat more than one type of worm, whereas others may be more specific, targeting one variety only.
What Types of Worms Can Cats Get?
The most common type of worms cats get is intestinal worms called roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms.
Roundworms are spaghetti-like in appearance. They measure about three to four inches long. Roundworms can be vomited or pooped out if the infestation is particularly bad.
Tapeworms are long and segmented, looking more ribbon-like. These can measure from four to twenty-four inches in length! The segments of the Tapeworm can break off and sometimes can be seen moving around the cat’s bottom or in their poop just after elimination. When dead, they can look like a grain of rice (1).
Hookworms are much smaller and can’t be seen with the naked eye. These ‘hook’ onto the intestinal wall and suck the cat’s blood so can cause anemia.
Other types of worms include Lungworms which live in the lungs and small airways of the cat. And Heartworms, which live in the heart, and can be fatal if not treated.
There are other parasites that can live in the cat’s gut which are not worms but single-celled organisms that can also cause your cat to become unwell.
How Can a Cat Get Worms?
Commonly cats get worms by coming into contact with the worm eggs or infected particles in their poop. A cat can easily get these on its paws and then digest them when licking the paws.
As kittens, they can pick up worms from their mother’s milk, even before they are born. If the cat eats wild animals such as birds or mice, they can contract the worms from them. Or they can contact them by simply having fleas. Fleas carry worm larvae and are often digested by cats when they are grooming themselves.
Although more common in cats which venture outside, indoor dwellers are also susceptible to getting worms also. Worms can be passed on to cats by insects! Mice and the common housefly can harbor roundworm eggs.
Mosquitos and ticks can spread the eggs through biting. This is mainly Heartworms, which, fortunately, do not do particularly well in cats’ bodies.
Lungworms can be contracted through contact with slugs and snails.
Roundworms produce microscopic eggs, whilst Tapeworms, being long and flat, are composed of many segments which contain eggs, so both of these types of eggs are shed in the cat’s poop. Lungworms produce eggs that hatch into larvae and burrow through the lung tissue.
How to Deworm Your Cat
Dewormers come in several forms. A tablet or paste to put in the back of the cat’s mouth so it will swallow it; Or can be a powder to sprinkle on her food, so it will eat it (not the best for a fussy eater);
Or can be a liquid that is dispensed on the cat’s skin (usually behind their neck where they are unable to directly lick it) and this absorbs through the skin; Alternatively, an injection by the Veterinarian if a severe case.
When dosing the cat orally, a handy suggestion is to wrap the cat up in a towel, leaving their head out, as they will struggle and scratch, which isn’t pleasant for either the cat or the holder!
When Should You Deworm Your Cat?
Deworming should start from when the kitten is two weeks of age and then followed up at four and six weeks old. From then, it will depend on the type of deworming medication provided as to the regularity of how often this needs to be done. It could be two, three, or six-monthly.
Initially, if you had recently acquired the cat and are unsure when it was last dewormed, the deworming should be repeated within two or three weeks. This is as the deworming process does not kill the immature forms of the worm.
It must be added here that a cat should not receive treatment if it is pregnant, sick, or debilitated.
If you have other pets living in the same house, it is advisable to have all the pets dewormed at the same time, as the risk of them spreading between each other is quite high.
Expectations After Deworming a Cat
Firstly, if the cat’s poop still doesn’t seem quite right, there could be another type of parasite other than worms. It is therefore recommended to talk to the Veterinarian as other parasites can live in our pets that will require a veterinarian prescribed medication to treat.
Generally, within 24 hours of administering the dewormer, you may notice various types of reactions. These side effects can include the following :
As vomiting can dehydrate the cat, you should take it to the Veterinarian immediately.
This can be quite common, but if this continues for more than three days, then you should seek advice from the Veterinarian, especially if the poop shows traces of blood.
This is another quite common symptom, and like diarrhea, if this continues for more than two or three days, then a veterinarian’s advice should be sought.
White gums and weight loss can be more long-term symptoms that need to be looked out for. Any unusual behavior needs to be investigated.
More often than not, you may not notice any side effects at all. Hopefully, if your kitty has been on the slim side, then perhaps some healthy weight gain after a few weeks.
How do I tell if my cat has worms?
Sometimes the symptoms are not immediately obvious, but signs to look out for include weight loss, even though the cat still eats as much, if not more than usual;
A swollen stomach area; Lethargic behavior; Vomiting or Diarrhea; Coughing; Difficulty breathing; Dull fur; Visible eggs or worm segments on the poop; Dragging their bottom across the floor (trying to scratch their itchy bottom).
How long after deworming my cat are the worms gone?
Not all worms are created equal, which means that different treatments are required using individual methods to eradicate the various types of worms. The time frame is usually around 24 hours for them to die and be eliminated.
Do cats poop out worms after being dewormed?
The dead and dying worms will pass through into the poop after deworming. Some of the treatments paralyze the worms, so they are unable to hold on to the intestinal tissue and are excreted out. Other treatments dissolve the worm, so there is nothing to poop out.
Worms are a health risk to our furry companions but properly treated; they can be effectively cured. Although not life-threatening if treated within a reasonable time, these nasty parasites can cause quite a lot of discomfort for our loved pets.
Through the theft of the cat’s nutrition and sometimes blood, our poor kitties can become unnecessarily uncomfortable and agitated. This can be more severe in kittens.
If all cat and kitten owners are aware of these parasites and what to look out for, then the process of ridding the cat of worms and fleas regularly should be routine and no cause for concern.
- How to Get Rid of Worms in Cats, https://www.petmd.com/cat/parasites/worms-cats-everything-you-need-know