Deworming cats is not the same as dogs. Cats won’t take medicine just because you think they should, so we must be sure we get the medication in them. You’ve probably also noticed that there aren’t as many dewormers labeled for cats. Even though there are fewer products with cat labels, several are effective and safe!
Signs of Worms in Cats
Cats commonly pick up parasites from hunting or eating bugs. The common problem seen in cats with parasites is a dull coat with shedding issues and an unthrifty appearance. In severe cases, cats will display weight loss, a grumpy attitude and GI upset.
Worm Treatment for Cats
Cats will inevitably pick up parasites, so the best deworming program is to get the cat dewormed before the parasites cause medical issues. Generally that requires deworming a minimum of twice a year for the outside cat and once a year for the inside cat. The best way to determine what treatment to give is to decide how easy we can handle the cat!
Breeding colonies should be dewormed to prevent issues in kittens. We want mom clean before giving birth, so we deworm queens after day 50 gestation. If mom does not give the babies parasites, we have fewer to get out of baby.
- Use fenbendazole and be sure to deworm mom three days in a row.
- Fenbendazole is labeled for pregnant moms in other species, so we are comfortable using it.
- Deworm kittens at two and four weeks with Pyrantel if their mom was dewormed.
- At six and eight weeks, use Fenbendazole orally for three days (Plumb). Liquid is commonly used and enables us to know the dose. We want to control giardia, and this usually does it.
- You may need to takes steps to prevent Coccidia, as well. One dose of Marquis at six and eight weeks prevents Coccidia.
- Kittens should always be dewormed at their next home, so be sure to put that in your kitten pack.
How Often Should I Deworm My Indoor Cat?
Inside cats have minimum exposure, except for bugs—especially the crickets that they seem to love to eat! If your cat is never outside, deworm once a year with a broad spectrum dewormer.
- Profender is a topical, spot-on dewormer by Bayer that is absorbed into the bloodstream and covers the main parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. It can be reapplied in 30 days, but this shouldn’t be needed in house cats.
- Fenbendazole is dosed for three days orally at the same rate as dogs. Fenbendazole comes in liquid or granules. It does not carry a house cat label but does carry exotic cat label. It is good for the cat that will eat canned food. Top dress the granules on canned food three days in a row, and they will eat it up.
- Pyrantel liquid has a pleasant taste for cats and is only a one-day dose. It comes in different concentrations and forms so dose per the label. It gets roundworms and hookworms only.
How Often Should I Deworm My Outdoor Cat?
Outside cats or cats that are outside part of the time will have a higher exposure, especially to roundworms from rodents, birds and bugs. They also share territory with other cats, which will expose them to parasites, as well. Deworm adult outdoor cats “strategically” four times a year.
- Fenbendazole has the broadest spectrum and gets all parasites: roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and giardia, as well as some strange parasites that cats get from wildlife. Dose in canned food three days in a row.
- Profender for Cats is not a broad spectrum but gets the common intestinal worms of hookworms, roundworms and two species of tapeworms and is easy to use topically.
- Pyrantel liquid has a pleasant taste for cats and is only a one-day dose! It comes in different concentrations and forms so dose per the label. It gets roundworms and hookworms only.
Feral cats are unique because we are trying to clear the common parasites and help them with external parasites.
Deworming a cat can be an easy task if you develop a cat deworming schedule, match the product up with the type of cat and the ease of handling. There is a product to get the job done.
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Written by: Amy Hanson, DVM
Amy Hanson, DVM
Dr. Amy Hanson is an associate veterinarian at the Cat Clinic of Lawrence in Lawrence, Kansas. She is a 2010 graduate of Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her special interests include felines, acupuncture and dentistry. Her hobbies include showing cats and she is a judge for the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA).