Kittens: They're playful, sweet, cuddly and wormy. Wait, what was that last bit? Unfortunately, it's true. Young kittens are frequently little worm colonies. Dewormers such as pyrantel pamoate can get rid of parasitic worms, helping keep those adorable little felines healthy. Ask your vet for a deworming schedule.
Pyrantel pamoate, manufactured under the brand names Nemex, Strongid, Drontal and others, kills worms by deactivating the parasites' nervous system. It has few side effects and is safe enough to use on young kittens and puppies -- yes, baby canines often have worms, too.
Where did those adorable babies get worms? From mom. Kittens might have hookworm or roundworms, also called ascarids, in their tiny intestines. Sometimes you'll see evidence of these worms in kitten poop, but their eggs are visible only via microscope. Kittens also may have tapeworms, but pyrantel pamoate doesn't kill those. Ask your vet about the right dewormer to use on kittens for tapeworms. One dose of pyrantel pamoate isn't enough to kill all of a kitten's ascarids or hookworms; he'll need a deworming dose about every three weeks. Your vet will give you a recommended schedule for your kitten. You'll also have the fun task of bringing in kitten stool samples for analysis to make sure the worms are gone.
Pyrantel pamoate is available in pill or liquid form. Your vet will tell you the correct dosage for your kitten. You don't have to withhold food or make any other accommodations before giving your kitten the dewormer.
While most kittens don't suffer side effects from deworming with pyrantel pamoate, certain problems can occur as a result of taking it. Kittens may experience diarrhea when passing the worms, or may strain to get rid of them. Some kittens may throw up. If a kitten has an unusually high worm load, so many worms dying off at once may cause his intestines to become impacted. Kittens thus affected generally have potbellies and don't look thrifty. If the kitten appears in any sort of distress after you administer the medication, take him to the vet. Don't use any other wormers at the same time you're using pyrantel pamoate.
After your kitten is worm-free, you want to keep him that way. Your vet can advise you on a regular deworming program as your kitten grows into a cat. Meanwhile, clean the litter box carefully every day, and keep your cat indoors. Felines acquire these parasites from eating infected rodents, or insects like beetles. They also pick up worm eggs from contaminated soil. Licking their paws gets the eggs into their systems. The fact that your cat is an indoors-only cat doesn't mean she can't get worms.
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.