How to Correctly Deworm Kittens

Vet deworms kitten

Worm infestations affect young cats with relative frequency. If untreated, they can lead to severe ailments. Thankfully though, parasites are very easy to combat as soon as the problem has been recognised. Get your little “tiger to caress”, as Victor Hugo lovingly called cats, dewormed for the first time three weeks after it is born and then every three to four weeks recurrently.

However, this is just a general guideline. Only a vet can make the final decision as to what deworming cycle is right for each individual cat.

Vermifuges have to be administered very frequently in animal homes too, because unfortunately kittens are partly in a very bad condition when they are handed in there.

Your trusted vet as a point of contact

Different types of worms need appropriate medication. Only your trusted vet can make a certain diagnosis of what type of worm is affecting your beloved kitten and will prescribe it exactly the right remedy. Even if you decide to treat your kitten at home with vermifuge, you should take it to a vet from the age of six months. The vet will take a faeces sample to determine whether your little feline housemate is affected by worms. They will also be able to diagnose the specific type of worm.

Signs of a worm infestation

Cats are partly very good at hiding the symptoms of an illness. However, there are some clues that allow you to clearly recognise when your little feline friend is unwell.

In general, worm infestations affecting kittens become evident by the cat vomiting worms or excreting them in the faeces.

The right deworming cycle

Some remedies are permitted once the cat is above the age of four or six weeks. Check the packaging insert very carefully. You absolutely must weigh your cat beforehand and work out the right dosage based on its weight.

With severe worm infestations, it is advisable to repeat treatment after two weeks. It is said that larvae and eggs are also killed with this type of treatment. The deworming remedy should therefore also combat the larval stages of the worms in question, though the effect is not 100% guaranteed.

In any case, clarify with your vet whether you should use a vermicide only available on prescription. There are different medications depending on the type of worm infestation. Some combat hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms. Others in turn work in a targeted manner against tapeworms, for instance, and are therefore the right choice if your kitten's faeces only show tapeworms.

Faeces sample provides information

If you suspect that your kitten is suffering from a worm infestation, you should first gather some of its faeces in a bag. Ideally, you will put together a sample over the course of three days. The vet will be able to determine whether worms or other causes are a potential trigger for vomiting. After all, this symptom can point to numerous ailments, including some that are relatively harmless. Nevertheless, you should absolutely get a vet to clarify the exact cause.

Vermifuge kitten

Roundworms (e.g. Toxocara cati) and roundworm larvae

  • Kittens can be repeatedly infected with roundworm larvae through their mother's milk. According to parasitologists, the larvae are considered particularly dangerous. For this reason, you should also get your trusted vet to deworm the mother of your kittens too.
  • Roundworms can causes kittens to vomit. Worms in the faeces and vomit can be clearly recognised, giving the impression that they contain a spaghetti-like structure.
  • The damage that worms cause their host depends on the extent of the infestation and the larvae stage of the roundworm.
  • In rare cases, roundworm larvae can even affect humans and trigger severe diseases like toxocariasis. Hence, kittens absolutely must be dewormed in order to protect both them and their owner.

Pulmonary worms (Aelurostrongylus abstrusus)

  • Pulmonary worms are the most significant lung parasites. Depending on the region, over 15% of cats in Germany are infected with pulmonary worms. Their larvae slip into the airways of these little cats and from there they can be transported upwards by coughing and swallowed. In this way, they end up in the gastrointestinal tract. Amongst other things, respiratory symptoms and breathing difficulties are the consequence, which can ultimately lead to death.
  • Coughing will subside after a few days following treatment with medication prescribed by the vet. Unfortunately you can't expect any visible success on the first day – after all, the kitten's body first needs to take away and remove the dead worms. This process can lead to further inflammatory reactions in the first place. The damaged airways can only regenerate once this has taken place, so the symptoms subside slowly.
  • Pulmonary worms sometimes implant themselves inside prey animals that are attractive to cats, such as birds, lizards or mice. In this way, the roundworm ends up inside the cat.
  • Cats living in apartments with no outdoor access face no risk of infection, though they can sometimes be infected via so-called intermediate hosts, for instance, if the cat eats snails or their slime or at least nibbles at them.

Hookworms (e.g. Anyclostoma)

  • Cats can tolerate smaller hookworm infections without showing any signs of illness. Only with massive infestations can severe ailments emerge.
  • Hookworms bite their host's intestinal mucosa and feed off the cat's blood. They must be dealt with in the larvae stage for deworming to be effective.
  • You can recognise a hookworm infestation by the excrement showing a dark colour or even blood.
  • You can easily and effectively destroy hookworms with deworming remedies. Please discuss correct deworming procedures with a vet who can give you accurate information.
  • Hookworms can also be transmitted to humans.

Heart worms (Dirofilaria immitis)

  • Heart worms aren't anywhere near as pleasant as the name perhaps suggests. They settle in the blood vessels of the heart and lungs of kittens, and in this way they can even trigger a pulmonary embolism.
  • Vomiting is another way heart worms can manifest themselves. Further symptoms are lethargy, weight loss and shortness of breath.
  • When fully grown, heart worms can be 20 to 30cm long and are transmitted via flies. Heart worms are predominantly found in North and Central America and the Mediterranean.
  • In contrast to the other types of worms described here, heart worms are difficult to treat and often prove deadly.

Tapeworms (Hydatigera or Taenia taeniaeformis)

  • If the infestation is not too big with only a few tapeworms in the cat's intestine, the infection often passes without any noticeable symptoms. Only a more significant infestation can cause shaggy fur, a lack of appetite and diarrhoea.
  • You can often recognise a tapeworm by the end of the worm sticking out of the kitten's anus. If the infestation is very severe, it could even result in intestinal obstruction with constipation and lacking nutrient supply.
  • An option is only deworming if required. If you decide to do this, you would have to examine the faeces on a regular basis.
  • Treatments to combat tapeworms are available as tablets or spot-on compounds.
Deworm kitten

How you can prevent worm infestations

  • Prevention is the best remedy in the case of worm infestations. After all, every treatment slightly damages the intestinal flora and can make the organism more susceptible to parasites and illnesses in general. Nevertheless, worming treatments are of course inevitable in cases of necessity and are of great importance for the health of the cat – and its owner.
  • You can prevent a worm infestation by keeping your cat exclusively in your apartment. You're on the safe side if you have a purely domestic cat and give it high-quality food. Amongst other things, however, solely living indoors would not be in the interest of most cats. In this respect, this option isn't an absolute must.
  • In a natural habitat complying with species-appropriate conditions, it's inevitable that cats will come into contact with dead animals like mice and birds. There are also numerous outdoor cats that don't contract worm infestations with this lifestyle.
  • You should definitely not feed your cat raw or undercooked meat.
  • It's also important to regularly take faeces samples and to have your vet examine them.
  • Kittens and cats with strong immune defences are fundamentally much better protected from diseases. Hence, give your beloved feline housemate everything that it needs to build up an undamaged immune system. This predominantly includes a balanced diet with high-quality cat food. Also, additional multivitamin compounds can boost your cat or kitten's health, making it less susceptible to parasites and illnesses in general.

Individually different parasite risks

The risk of parasites depends on numerous factors. For instance, whether your kitten often comes into contact with the excretions of other animals. Here too, a vet can give you in-depth information and if necessary can recommend a monthly deworming treatment for your kitten. For instance, when small children who would potentially be particularly at risk are in your home.

Read more about Cat Health and Care in our magazine!

Most read articles

Bengal Cat

The Bengal is a truly unique cat breed. A 'house tiger' in the truest sense, Bengal breeders go for a bit of wild cat blood, with wildcat hybrids like Bengals or Savannahs proving the latest craze in the world of breeding! Just what is a hybrid cat, and what needs to be taken into account when giving a home to a wild cat cross? Our breed description provides answers. Big cat hybrids could be found in the zoos of Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. This ultimately didn't prove practical for zoos, but transferred well to the world of small cats, with ever greater enthusiasm shown for so-called wild cat hybrids being developed from the pairing of wild cat breeds with domesticated indoor cats. The most well-known example is the Bengal, which resulted from crossing a tame black domestic cat with a wild Asian leopard cat. The result was a cat breed that proves a real hit thanks to its elongated body and extraordinary fur colouring. However, its proximity to its wild relatives sometimes requires an experienced hand.

British Longhair

Are you looking for an adaptable cat for domestic life, if possible with a long coat? Also commonly referred to as the Highlander, the British Longhair is the semi-longhaired alternative to the British Shorthair, sharing its friendly, even-tempered manner but with a lesser urge for activity.

Neva Masquerade

Neva Masquerade – a mysterious name for a mysterious thing of beauty! The Neva Masquerade is the point variation on the Siberian cat and shares many characteristics with this breed.