Deworming your Kitten

Deworming Schedule:

  • 2 weeks, 4 weeks & 6 weeks of age
  • At vaccinations intervals again, 8 weeks, 12 weeks & 6 months of age
  • Thereafter, 1 – 3 times a year.

Gastrointestinal Parasites

GI parasites are a very common ailment in kittens, and should be combatted through standard preventative measures and proactive treatment as needed. 

Standard Deworming

All kittens should be treated for common parasites as they are all infested with roundworm and hookworm at birth. They are infested through the placenta or the mother’s milk. Worm larvae migrate through the kitten’s body from the initial site of entry, until they reach the intestine. Migrating immature stages are very difficult to kill, so kittens should ideally be dewormed at 2 weeks of age and twice more at 2 weekly intervals after that. Youngsters should also be dewormed at every vaccination, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 6 months old. Thereafter deworming should be done 1 to 3 times a year, depending on lifestyle and environment. This can be done at a veterinarian, or at home. 

Roundworms and Hookworms

Both are a significant risk to pet owners, especially children. Hookworms in humans causes the highly-irritating “sandworm” lesions where worm larvae crawl in tracts under our skin. Roundworms are more dangerous, and can migrate around in our bodies, causing liver disease (“visceral larva migrans”), blindness (“ocular larva migrans”) or epilepsy if the reach the brain. Teaching children good hygiene from an early age (wash hands after playing with pets, keep hands away from mouth) will help a lot. However, pets in contact with young children should be dewormed more frequently (every 3 months). Deworming humans at the same time as pets does NOT contribute much, as medications generally are ineffective against migrating tissue stages.

Tapeworms

The most common tapeworm in pets is Dipylidium, which is transmitted by fleas. The worm is not dangerous, but irritating to the pet. Worm segments crawl out of the pet’s anus causing itching and “scooting”. The segments dry up, are eaten by flea larvae, worm cysts develop in the flea, and then the adult flea hatches and jumps on the pet. When your pet happens to swallow a flea while grooming itself, the tapeworm cysts inside the flea grow into tapeworms in the pet’s small intestine. These worms are quite difficult to kill, and an effective tapeworm remedy is needed. Even then, the pet could swallow another infested flea the following day, resulting in a new tapeworm growing and starting to shed new segments within 3-4 weeks. 
Flea tapeworms are about the size of a cooked rice grain, and are the only worms that once can see (other than roundworms that are shed after killing them with deworming) Flea control helps a little, but more important is immediate deworming when tapeworm segments are seen, to prevent contamination of the environment and continuation of the life cycle.

Routine Deworming Medication

Deworming medication should contain combinations of medications to kill the various worm species. It is also good practice to alternate products so that worms (especially hookworms) do not become immune. Please beware of supermarket brands, many will be effective only against large roundworms. Rather contact your local veterinarian for advice on effective deworming medication.

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