It's easy to love and care for cats when they're healthy, but the fun factor drops precipitously when parasites enter the picture. Fleas and worms are unhealthy for you and Ms. Kitty, and they're also gross. Getting them under control and keeping them that way is vital for your sanity.
One of the keys to controlling flea and worms for your cat is keeping her environment parasite-free. Begin with your yard, particularly if you have an outdoor or indoor-outdoor feline. Remove any debris and weeds, since fleas infest those areas. Trim the grass and keep it that way. It isn't just the great outdoors that poses a problem, so break out the elbow grease. To control fleas, you'll also need to vacuum thoroughly and often, changing the bag each time. Wash your cat's bedding and pay special attention to her favorite spots around the house. Once fleas are under control, tapeworms will be as well. To control other intestinal baddies, get new litter boxes and keep them clean. A thorough cleaning of your house will eliminate many issues.
Fleas have a way of multiplying -- literally. Once they're on your cat, the situation can quickly get out of control. If the infestation is bad enough, you'll need to take immediate action. Ask your veterinarian if a medication containing nitenpyram is right for your cat. These are typically administered in pill form and begin killing fleas within hours. If you suspect worms are a problem, don't hesitate to visit a vet. Your precious pet will need a good dewormer as soon as possible. While there are over-the-counter options, the veterinarian can do a fecal test to determine exactly what's ailing Ms. Kitty. The vet will also recommend or administer dewormers that are effective and safe, meaning less risk for your favorite feline.
Once you get fleas and worms under control, you'll want to keep things that way. Keep your kitty indoors to prevent chances of reinfection, and limit her contact with wild critters. This means no bringing in stray cats without first getting rid of their fleas and worms, not to mention having them checked for disease. If rodents are a problem in your house, get rid of them. Keep Kitty's litter boxes scooped and disinfected and spend extra time each day to make sure her favorite spots are clean. Consider investing in monthly treatments designed to keep infestations at bay. Some even contain ingredients that rid your cat of roundworms, ticks and mites as well as fleas. These are typically available by prescription, so ask your veterinarian if they're a good option for you and your pet.
The cost of flea control can be high, especially if you have multiple cats and are paying for monthly meds. It's tempting to purchase over-the-counter spot treatments and dewormers. But be wary and make sure you read the labels of any OTC products. Not all are created equal, and many contain certain pesticides that kill fleas but pose a risk for your cats. The Humane Society of the United States recommends avoiding treatments that contain pyrethroids, carbamates -- including propoxur and carbaryl -- and tetrachlorvinphos. These have caused problems ranging from seizures to brain damage and death. Controlling fleas and worms is important, but not at the risk of your cat. If you have any concerns about a particular treatment, discuss it with a veterinarian before using it for your pet.