Intestinal parasites are unhealthy for kitties, but the medications used to rid cats of them may hurt pregnant cats and their unborn kittens. If you suspect that your furry friend has worms, bring her to the vet, who can prescribe a dewormer that's safe to administer to her.
Visiting the Vet
If you believe that your feline friend is pregnant and that she is suffering with worms, the vet visit is important. You need a proper diagnosis of both conditions. There are many dewormers on the market, but each of them targets and kills different types of intestinal worms. This is why it's so important to identify the exact type of worm your kitty is suffering from, if any. Your vet will take a fecal sample and examine it for any signs of the parasites to determine which medication to prescribe. He'll also take an abdominal ultrasound to see if he can detect a fetal heartbeat, although this usually only works starting at around the 22nd day of the pregnancy, according to the Pet Informed website.
Unfortunately, your vet will be able to tell if your kitty is definitely pregnant only if she's at least three weeks along, about a third of the way through her pregnancy. If she's unspayed or has recently been in heat and either escaped outdoors or had direct contact with a non-neutered male kitty in the past week or two, she very well may be pregnant. Let your vet know you suspect Fluffy is carrying a litter so he can adjust his recommendation for a deworming medication accordingly. Some dewormers contain toxins that can cause harm to the unborn fetuses or can otherwise compromise the health of an expectant momma cat. In addition, certain dewormers or combination medications haven't been scientifically tested on pregnant females, so their side effects are unknown.
Of the drugs available to rid Fluffy of worms safely, even if she's pregnant, praziquantel will kill off two forms of tapeworms, namely Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis, without harming a pregnant queen, according to Bayer Animal Health. The Mar Vista Animal Medical Center recommends that pyrantel pamoate is safe for use in pregnant and lactating female kitties. This drug helps rid infested felines of roundworms like Toxocara cati, hookworms and stomach worms of the Physaloptera species. Another drug, fenbendazole, is considered safe for pregnant kitties and for kittens as young as 2 weeks old, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. Fenbendazole helps to get rid of roundworms, lungworms and tapeworms of the Taenia species.
Intestinal parasites don't just negatively impact the health of an expectant momma cat; they can infect her young in the uterus or through her milk when they begin nursing after birth, according to petMD. For this reason, it's important to get rid of those worms -- preferably prior to a pregnancy but during it if necessary. Worms also can affect people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns. The best way to prevent worms is to keep your kitty indoors and use a monthly flea and worm preventative treatment on her. Spay your feline friend to prevent surprise pregnancies and discourage her from escaping outdoors, where she can pick up parasites -- though the monthly treatment should serve her if she does roam outdoors.
- WebMD: Deworming your Cat
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Worming Your Cat
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Pyrantel Pamoate
- Pet Informed: Is My Cat Pregnant? How to Diagnose Cat Pregnancy
- 2ndChance.info: Intestinal Parasites in Your Cat and What to Do About Them
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Animals (Zoonotic)
- petMD: Intestinal Worms in Dogs (and Cats) 101
- Bayer Animal Health: (Praziquantel) Feline Cestocide Tablets
- Bayer Animal Health: Topical Solution (Emodepside/Praziquantel)
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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