Internal parasites usually live in a cat’s digestive system and are detected by an examination of your cat’s stool. Treatment can begin as early as two weeks of age and should be repeated at two to three week intervals, as determined by your veterinarian.
Kittens can become infected early in life, especially with roundworms, which can be transmitted through their mother's milk. Kittens should be wormed at two, four, six, eight and 12 weeks of age, then every three months for life with an all-wormer. Pregnant and nursing cats should also be treated during mating, before giving birth to a litter and then every three months. Heavy worm infestations in cats should be repeated 10 days after the initial does is administered.
Worming pastes are easy and effective to use for cats that have difficulty eating a tablet, but if you prefer to use tablets, ask your veterinarian for a demonstration during a vet consult.
Common worms and parasites
Tapeworms are common problem for adult cats. Cats can acquire tapeworms by eating a rodent or ingesting a flea that is carrying an immature tapeworm, so flea control is important. Small, white worm segments around your cat’s anus or in their litter pan indicate that tapeworms are present.
Roundworms can be passed on from a mother cat to kittens through her milk. Take a stool sample to the veterinarian when your cat is scheduled for her regular shots to ensure roundworms are not present. These intestinal parasites may cause weight loss, weakness, diarrhoea, or mucus in the stool.
Hookworms may be passed on before birth or when nursing. If possible, keep your adult cat treated at mating and during nursing, and because hookworms can be transmitted through contact with infected faeces, keep them away from other cats’ waste. Hookworms cause anaemia, diarrhoea, weight loss, vomiting or black, tarry stools.
Ringworm is caused by a fungus that lives on the skin and is very contagious - it can even be transmitted to humans. Ringworm appears as oval bare patches on the skin of your cat. To minimise the risk, avoid unnecessary contact with other cats. If you suspect your cat has ringworm take them to the veterinarian as ringworm can only be detected under an ultraviolet light - once detected your veterinarian will be able to administer the correct treatment.
Heartworm is not as common in cats as it is in dogs, as the immune system of a cat is able to eliminate most infections more easily than a dog. Not all infections are eliminated after the mosquito carrying the immature heartworm bites your cat, and these immature stages can develop to become large worms in the heart and vessels of the lungs. Signs of heartworm in cats are varying from case to case, but most cases include sudden death. Ask your veterinarian about the likelihood of heartworm disease in your area.
Other parasites that display similar symptoms as worms are:
Coccidium is an organism that can live in your cat’s intestines that is sometimes ingested through raw or undercooked meat, including rodents. Be sure to clean their litter tray daily, as it takes one to two days for faeces to become infectious. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss and loss of appetite.
Toxoplasmosis is a multisystemic parasite that can also be dangerous to humans. Symptoms can include non-specific signs, such as fever and loss of appetite, as well as ocular lesions, difficulty in breathing and diarrhoea.
It is important to treat your cat regularly throughout its adult life. If you have any concerns about treating your cat for parasites, contact your vet.
TOTAL CARE Range
PURINA TOTAL CARE has a wide range of flea and worming products and formats to choose from. Whilst worming your cat is probably not something you look forward to, you can make it easy with the new TOTAL CARE Tasty Intestinal Allwormer. It's a single tiny tablet with great beef flavouring that your cat will be sure to love. Learn more about it on the TOTAL CARE website and pick it up in-store.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.