If your cat or kitten has roundworm, don't panic. These nasty nematodes are fairly easy to get rid of with deworming medications. Some roundworm remedies are available over-the-counter, while others require a prescription from your vet.
While dogs and cats can both get roundworm, these parasites are species-specific. The roundworm affecting felines are Toxascaris leonina and Toxocara cati. These worms inhabit the cat's intestines -- you might see the 3- to 5-inch, light-colored worms in kitty's stool. Kittens often get roundworms from their mothers, either from her milk or by fecal contact. These worms do the most damage in kittens, whose immune systems are immature. Kittens with roundworm might experience diarrhea, vomit worms or have a pot-bellied appearance because of the amount of worms in their gastrointestinal system.
Your vet diagnoses the presence of roundworms from a stool sample, mixing in a solution with the sample that causes eggs within to float to the top. Then she puts the sample on a slide and examines it under a microscope. It she sees eggs, your vet administers a dewormer to the cat or kitten. Over the next few weeks, your cat or kitten will be administered additional deworming treatment to kill off migrating larvae still in the body. You might want to purchase over-the-counter dewormers labeled for feline roundworms and deworm your cat periodically, especially if he's not a strictly indoors cat.
Flea and Worm Treatment
If you use topical flea treatments on your cat, you might be interested in one that also prevents your cat from becoming infected with heartworm or roundworm. Selamectin, a drug sold under the brand name Revolution, also gets rid of ear mites and hookworms. Side effects are generally minor, including hair loss at the point of application. Overall, this is probably the simplest way to protect your cat from all types of parasites. It's administered monthly, topically.
Once you've gotten rid of roundworms, how do you prevent your cat from picking them up again? The easiest way is by keeping your cat indoors, where he presumably can't find rodents to kill and snack on, and keeps him out of dirt, where he might otherwise pick up roundworm eggs on his feet or fur, then ingest them when grooming himself. Clean your cat's litter box every day, washing it out with bleach on a weekly basis. Rinse the box thoroughly to remove the bleach, as it can harm cats.
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.