Worms are a pest in any pet. But your kitten is particularly vulnerable. Treat kitten worms properly, though, and everything can turn out fine.
Kitten worms are a form of parasite. Cats can get worms in several ways, and kittens can pick them up through their mothers’ milk. Untreated kitten worms can become a very serious issue.
What are kitten worms?
Roundworms and tapeworms are the most common forms of parasite in cats. Most cats will deal with worms at some stage in their life. If it happens when your cat is still a kitten, you need to take particular care to get him the treatment it needs.
Roundworms look like thinner versions of earthworms. They can be passed to kittens as larvae in their mother's’ milk. The mother likely caught them from some small creature that she caught and ate, such as a mouse or bird. These eggs can get passed around and re-consumed very easily, which is one reason it’s important to keep your kitten’s environment clean.
Tapeworms are more common in older cats. They are longer and thinner than roundworms. Again, a cat can pick them up from small prey, or even from lice.
Cats can also get worms from eating raw meat or eating infected faeces they find in the garden. Which sounds like justice, really, except that it affects your life too. Or they can get it from their feline friends.
Symptoms of worms in kittens
It’s difficult to spot worms until some damage has already been done. So it’s important to take preventive measures, rather than just waiting to treat a wormy kitten.
Vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, and lethargy can all be symptoms of worms. Or your cat might show signs of having an itchy backside. But kittens get an extra symptom to deal with: a swollen belly. If your kitten develops a pot belly without being overfed, it either has worms or a beer problem.
It’s also possible to spot worm eggs in kitten poo. They look like small grains of rice. But actually, roundworm eggs are pretty difficult to spot.
Danger of kitten worms to humans
Some worm types can be transferred from cats to people. And children have been made sick and even blinded by cat worm eggs in the past. This is just one reason you may want to think twice about keeping cats if you have children in the family.
Preventing kitten worms
You can’t be sure to prevent worms in a cat, but you can do your best to reduce the odds. Between six weeks and six months of age, a kitten needs monthly anti-worm treatment. After that, it goes down to every three months. And grown-up cats have this treatment every two to six months. Your kitten’s vet or breeder will recommend you a type that is most suited to your particular creature.
You should also make sure your kitten’s toilet area is cleaned regularly. And ensure the little demon is also treated for fleas, since they can transmit worms.
Treat kitten worms regularly
There are lots of different types of tapeworm medicine for kittens. It is best to check with your vet for particular recommendations that will be suitable for your pet. You will also need to work out what he will be able to take, since worm medicine for kittens comes in different forms, including pills, powders, and injections. If you have trouble getting your cat to take a pill, you may need to try another way.
Very young kittens need to be dewormed at two, four, and six weeks old. You’ll need scales so you can weigh kitty, oral dewormer (medicine) that drop into her mouth with a syringe, and a syringe. You need to find out your kitten’s weight to get the dosage right.
After that, as mentioned, it shifts to once a month. Different types of worms need different treatments, and your vet may want to administer an injection in addition to the oral dewormer that you use.
If you don’t treat worms, they will cause your cat to lose blood, which can lead to anaemia. This can weaken a kitten’s strength and immunity, and even lead to death.
Worms can also lead to a blockage in the intestines, or a prolapse (the rectum slipping out of place). None of which is good news for a kitten or for you.
So be sure to speak to your vet about an appropriate worming regime once you decide to bring a cat into your life!