Roundworms and cats -- not exactly perfect together, but the former often is found in the latter's intestinal tract. Also known as ascarids, these parasites aren't hard to eliminate with either over-the-counter medications or those prescribed by your vet. Two types of these pests affect felines: Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina.
You might be lucky enough to see roundworms in your cat's feces. Maybe "lucky" isn't your initial reaction, but at least you know that kitty is infested. If you don't see actual worms, suspect an infestation if your kitty loses weight, experiences diarrhea or vomiting and generally doesn't look that healthy. Kittens are especially vulnerable to these vile critters, with potbellies a tell-tale sign. Usually, kittens require deworming at the age of 6 weeks, with a follow-up deworming a few weeks later. Your vet can advise you about the right deworming schedule.
This over-the-counter medication pyrantel pamoate, sold under brand names, like Nemex or Strongid, also gets rid of hookworms and the types of roundworms that afflict dogs. Pyranel pamoate only kills actual worms in the cat's intestines, not worm larvae. That's why you must use it to deworm your cat or kittens at intervals of a few weeks. The second or third doses kill those now-adult former larvae that migrated to the intestine. This medication can be used on pregnant and lactating cats. With nursing mothers, administering pyrantel pamoate may reduce the very high risk of her passing roundworms to her kittens.
Available by prescription, selamectrin not only gets rid of roundworms, but also kills adult fleas and keeps flea eggs from hatching, controls ear mites, prevents heartworm disease and eliminates hookworms. Sold under the brand name Revolution, apply selamectrin topically between your cat's shoulder blades each month to keep all these pests away from her. Few side effects are reported with the drug, although some cats lose their hair in the area where the medication is applied.
Also used to treat hookworm and prevent heartburn, ivermectin for felines is available by prescription under names, such as Heartgard and Heartgard Plus. Before giving you a prescription, the vet will test your cat for the presence of heartworms. If she's heartworm negative, she should be good to go. Give kitty this oral medication every month for roundworm eradication. Ivermectin also gets rid of certain skin parasites.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.