Worms are a common health problem for kittens. Some kittens, for instance, especially those born to stray cats or other outside cats, are born infested with roundworms. Due to kittens' small size and immature development, worm infestations can be dangerous. The earlier your veterinarian can check your kitten for parasites, and treat it, the better.
Kittens more commonly have roundworms (ascarids) or tapeworms than other kinds of worms. Hookworms and threadworms are among other parasites that can infect your kitten, but these are much less common. Kittens usually acquire tapeworms from fleas and they acquire roundworms from their infected mother before they are even born, from infected breast milk, or from ingesting roundworm eggs in their environment.
Roundworms are long, thin pale worms. You may notice them in the stools or, in very bad infestations, in the kitten's vomit. If you are present when your kitten vomits worms, you may notice the worms moving. If your kitten has tapeworms, you may notice pale worm segments around its rear area or in its stool. When tapeworm segments dry, they shrink and darken slightly and may be mistaken for general debris on pet bedding or in other areas your pets frequent.
Kittens initially have few signs of worm infestation. Later, after the worms have multiplied and grown, the kitten's condition will deteriorate quickly. Symptoms of severe infestation include pale gums, diarrhoea, vomiting and an unhealthy appearing coat. However, all of these symptoms may occur, or none at all until it is too late.
Roundworm medicine is usually in liquid or capsule form. Tapeworm medicines are usually in tablet form. Most wormers can be given directly or mixed with palatable food. Most over-the-counter worm medicines are intended for one type of worm only--either tapeworm or roundworm. Some prescription wormers, such as Drontal, take care of both types of worms at once. Kittens generally must be at least 4 weeks old and nearly 0.907kg. to take prescription wormers. Non-prescription wormers should not be given until a kitten is 6 to 8 weeks old, depending on the medicine.
Dewormers are poisonous and should be used carefully. The kitten may vomit shortly after. Frequent vomiting or diarrhoea, however, can dehydrate a kitten quickly. Talk with your vet if this happens. Also, watch the kitten for any other signs of accidental overdose or sensitivity to the medicine, such as seizures or lethargy. Note that even if you give the correct dose and the kitten handles it well, it won't be feeling very well for a while.
Parasites in kittens should be dealt with promptly. Due to their small size and immature physiology, kittens can sicken quickly and die from worms. Death may occur from dehydration due to diarrhoea and vomiting, from respiratory problems caused by migrating worms, from the worms causing blockage of the intestines, or general illness from the strain parasites put on the body. Your veterinarian can determine the kind of worms your kitten has and, therefore, which medicine would be best for it. Never worm a sick or very young kitten without first consulting with a veterinarian.
Liquid dewormers are flavoured--keep bottles sealed and inaccessible to any pets in your home.
Vacuum and sanitise pet quarters thoroughly in conjunction with deworming--this helps prevent reinfestation.
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