Do OTC Roundworm Medications Work for Cats?

by Melodie Anne Coffman, Demand Media Google
    "I'm not falling for this again. I smell that pill inside that treat."

    "I'm not falling for this again. I smell that pill inside that treat."

    If your feline companion has worms, deworming him is part of being a responsible pet owner. In the pet store you’ll find an endless supply of OTC deworming medications. But they won't work if they're not for the type of worm that’s in your kitty. Get a veterinary diagnosis first.

    Roundworm Details

    Roundworms are the most typical type of worm in kitties, so don’t stress if your four-legged family member becomes infected -- he’ll get through it. You might not even know that Simon has worms until long after the initial infestation. He could lose weight, suffer from chronic diarrhea, have problems holding down his food and appear to have inflammation around his rear end. In some cases, you could even see the worms slip in and out of his anus, or you might notice pieces of worms in his droppings. All types of worms that infest cats are highly contagious. Kitties pass them to one another through stool or through mother’s milk. Some cats become infected by feasting on worm-infested rodents. If you suspect that Simon has roundworms, separate him from the rest of his feline family until you get him treated.

    Dangers of OTC Medications

    Over-the-counter deworming medications are mild poisons. Although they are designed to be safe for felines, you’re unnecessarily exposing Simon to toxic substances if you treat him for a parasite he doesn't have. If your furry pal is sick from something other than roundworms, side effects from the ineffective medication could make him sicker.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Take a fresh stool sample to your veterinary office. Your vet will thoroughly examine the waste and look for signs of worms. Once he gets a confirmation on a specific type of worm, he’ll prescribe medication to get rid of that parasite. Roundworm eggs can survive for months or even years, so it’s important to get medication from your veterinarian to get rid of the worms as well as the eggs.

    How Often to Deworm

    You probably don’t need to deworm your adult cat unless he actually has an infestation. Your veterinarian might suggest taking in a stool sample once or twice a year to look for worms, especially if Simon has free roam of the yard. Kittens are often infected with small roundworms called ascarids. Because of this, some veterinarians recommend deworming kittens beginning at 2 to 3 weeks of age and then once a month until 6 months of age, WebMD reports. This way your pint-size chum will be less likely to have severe problems from a worm invasion.

    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images