It’s a very exciting time when you get a new pet, but there’s also lots to think about when welcoming a new kitten into your home. One of those things is parasite prevention. Just as adult cats need to be regularly wormed, kittens also need similar preventative measures put in place.
Table of contents
- Why does my kitten need worm prevention?
- What types of worms can affect kittens?
- How often should wormers be used?
- Where can I get worming tablets from?
- Are home remedies effective?
- What else can I do?
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Why does my kitten need worm prevention?
Unfortunately, without proper prevention, it’s very likely that your kitten will become infested with worms. They can be picked up from faeces of an infected animal, or can even be passed from mother to offspring via milk.
When a kitten is affected by worms you may see the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Lethargy and weakness
- Or even nothing at all – at least initially!
Without preventative measures, kittens can become very ill with worm infestation and in severe cases it can be fatal. Affected pets will need parasite treatment, and in some cases will need supportive care.
What types of worms can affect kittens?
A long white worm found in the intestine, that some people say looks like spaghetti! Microscopic eggs are passed in the faeces and can also be transmitted to kittens via their mother’s milk. Kittens are more likely to be affected than adult cats. Larvae will migrate to the lungs where they are coughed up and swallowed back into the intestine, to lay eggs and continue the lifecycle. Many species can also infect humans, burrowing through the tissues and even invading the liver, brain or eye. Children are at highest risk, as they are not always as careful about hand hygiene, but adults can become infected too.
These are flat and segmented. They require an ‘intermediate host’ to continue their lifecycle, normally fleas which are ingested when the cat bites at their skin when fleas make them itchy.
How often should wormers be used?
Your kitten should have been wormed prior to you picking them up, ideally from 3 weeks old, then we normally recommend worming every 2 weeks until they’re 16 weeks old (although it will depend on the product being used, and the local worm burden, so double check with your vet or SQP). After that, they will usually need to be wormed every 3 months, but please check with your vet what regime they recommend.
Where can I get worming tablets from?
From your vet
You can get ‘prescription only medication’ (POM-V) from the practice your kitten is registered with. This is usually going to be the most effective treatment and will often be recommended to you by your vet. Your kitten will need to be examined by a vet and weighed before this can be dispensed, so this is normally done at the same time that they receive their vaccinations.
These medications can be bought directly from your vet or, with a written prescription from your vet, they can be bought from online pharmacies. Remember you will need to pay to have your vet write a prescription if you choose to go down this route.
From your vet, pharmacist, or authorised retailer
Related groups of drugs (VPS products, for “Vet, Pharmacist or Suitably Qualified Person”) are only available from authorised suppliers. They may be less powerful than POM-V drugs but will still be effective.
Some worming tablets are available ‘over-the-counter’ – i.e., these can be bought without a prescription from a vet and will contain less potent ingredients. These aren’t as effective as POM-V medication and can be toxic if the dose is wrong. A weight for your kitten is needed so that correct dose can be administered
Are home remedies effective?
Home remedies are not recommended and are unlikely to be successful when used as a lone treatment.
What else can I do?
As some worms can be passed on via fleas, it’s important to regularly treat your kitten for these too. Regularly disinfect your kitten’s food and water bowls.
If you have any questions regarding parasite treatment for your pet, please seek advice from your vet.