Intestinal parasites are probably not your first thought when you hold your purr-fect new addition. However, for your kitten's health and even for your own, it's important to understand kitten worming medicines. Nearly all kittens are infected with worms and some types can be passed to humans.
You may give your kitten a worming medicine before it is tested. This medicine will treat the most common types of intestinal parasites. At some point in your kitten's care, however, the veterinarian will likely suggest a fecal test. This test involves looking at a small amount of your kitten's fecal matter under a microscope to determine if she has worms and, if so, what type. A medication can then be prescribed to treat the specific type of parasite your kitten has.
Kittens are often infected with intestinal parasites when they are only a few weeks old, because the worm larvae are transmitted from their mother through her milk. Kittens are usually given a worming medication for the first time when they are six weeks old. A second dose is given at eight weeks and a third dose at 10 weeks. After the initial three doses, you should give your kitten a worming medication every few months to help ensure he remains parasite-free.
Several types of worming medications are available for kittens and cats, including liquid and pill forms. There are also topical applications that are both flea/tick preventives and worming medications. Over-the-counter worming medications can be effective, but usually treat only one type of intestinal parasite. If you are certain your kitten has a particular type of intestinal parasite, you may select an over-the-counter worming medication rather than go to the veterinarian for a prescription.
Nearly all worming medications are safe after a kitten is six weeks old. Pyrantel pamoate/praziquantel can be used on kittens as young as one month and is usually the first worming medication given to a kitten. Roundworms are the most common type of intestinal parasite in kittens, and this medication is effective against roundworms and several other types of worms that commonly infect kittens. It is generally given orally in a liquid solution.
Though it's not common, some kittens will experience side effects from worming medications. The most common are vomiting, diarrhea and excessive salivation. If you use a topical application, an uncommon side effect is hair loss at the site where the medication is applied. If your kitten does experience side effects or has a reaction to a worming medication, you should discuss alternatives with your veterinarian. Side effects related to worming medications are not often serious and usually resolve without treatment.
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.