Why is it important?
Cats can suffer from a range of different worms - especially roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. Small numbers of worms usually don't cause major problems, but if there are too many of them, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea may result. Some species of roundworms can even infect humans (especially children), burrowing into the gut, the liver, the brain and the eye. As a result, regular worming is really important!
How do cats get worms?
Most worms in cats are contracted through eating live prey. The major exceptions are the roundworm Toxocara cati (which can infect kittens in their mothers womb, or even through the milk) and the tapeworm Dipylidium caninum (spread by fleas). As a result, even cats who do not hunt are potentially at risk from worms. So, what types of worming products are available?
(1) Herbal and homeopathic remedies
The effects of herbal treatments are weak and unpredictable, while homeopathic remedies are best used as complementary, not alternative, medicines. As a result, we don't recommend these products for worm control.
(2) Over the counter pet shop and supermarket tablets
These often do kill some worms, but tend to be relatively weak drugs, in low concentrations. Yes, they're cheap, but they don't often work terribly well. They also tend to be big, bulky tablets that need to be pushed down your cat's throat!
(3) Vet and Pharmacy only worming tablets and liquids
The tablets usually contain a mixture of ingredients to kill all the major worm groups, and are generally both safe and effective; while the liquids kill roundworms and are often very safe for young kittens.
(4) Prescription-only worming tablets
These are very safe and highly effective, containing several active ingredients to kill all the UK worm types. A few of these products will also kill fleas or other parasites. They can only be purchased from us, or with a veterinary prescription, but they're usually much easier to dose than other tablets, as well as being more effective.
(5) Prescription-only Spot-On products
There are a number of different spot-on wormers. Some just do worms, while others will also kill fleas, mites, and sometimes other parasites; however, most of these combination medications only kill roundworms, not tapeworms too. They can only be purchased from us, or with a veterinary prescription.
How often should I worm kittens?
To a great extent, this depends on how old they are. Kittens need regular worming against roundworms, but we tend not t worry so much about the other types. From 3 to 9 weeks, they should be wormed roughly every 14 days; and then monthly until six months old. Remember to choose a product that is safe for small kittens, though.
How often do adults need worming?
Adult cats should be regularly wormed against roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. Cats who are active hunters need more regular worming (every 4-6 weeks), whereas those who aren't catching live prey should be treated every 3 months.
Worms are not only disgusting, but also potentially dangerous - so make sure your cats are protected!