As the proud human mom of a litter of kittens, you're naturally concerned about their safety and health with good reason. Viral infections, parasites and genetic defects can turn your happy little family into a funeral procession All cats need vaccines, but not 100 percent of cats require deworming.
Cats and kittens do not need deworming (the term for ridding an animal of worms is actually "worming") unless they actually are infested with worms. Cats with outdoor access are most likely to get worms, and a pregnant queen can pass worms to her kittens. Worms can be contracted from fleas, mosquitoes, soil, rodents or other prey, and the feces or vomit of other animals. Common types of worms that may turn you healthy feline into a miserable ball of fur include hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and heartworms.
Cats with worms may experience anemia, diarrhea, vomiting, bloated bellies, decreased appetite and lethargy. Kittens may fail to grow. Left untreated, a worm infestation can lead to an impaired immunity system and ultimately death. Some types of worms can be passed on to humans as well. While you can see the white specs that may indicate a hookworm infection in your pet's stool, the best way to ensure your pet does not have worms of any kind is a vet examination, which will have a fecal test and may include a blood test.
Diagnosis and treatment for worms is best left to the specialists who can identify the specific type of worms and administer or prescribe the best treatment. Visit the vet prepared. Take a fresh stool sample from the litter box with you. If multiple cats use the same box, wait until you see the cat in question leave his "gift" in the box or take a sampling of the stools in the box. Kittens may need to see the vet at two to three weeks and again at about five weeks to make sure no worms are present. If the kittens do have worms, a treatment regime may include monthly treatments over the course of several months. Never give kittens a dewormer that is meant for an adult cat.
Heartworm infestation is preventable with monthly or quarterly heartworm treatments. You can battle against other types of worms by keeping your house cat in his natural environment -- the house. By staying in the house, he is less likely to encounter rodents, mosquitoes or the feces of strange animals. Keep the litter box and the pet's bedding clean. Visit the veterinarian for annual worm testing or more often if symptoms appear. Treat pets and their bedding and other belongs promptly for fleas, and invest in a flea preventative.
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