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Worming Kittens - Symptoms & Treatment for Worms

 

Worming kittens: worm types, symptoms and treatment

 

Taking care of your new kitten is an exciting time, and a new adventure, but it also leaves you with a new responsibility in your life. But, with the right information, it can be such a rewarding bond that you’ll forever cherish. One essential part of this new adventure is ensuring your new friend gets all the right health care and treatments - which brings us to worming your kitten. Here’s a quick rundown of the types of worms, the symptoms of infection and treatment.

How does your kitten get worms

In most cases, your kitten can get worms from a few different sources. The most common source is from contact with an infected animal or the faeces of an infected animal; whether it be another pet in your household or the neighbour’s cat. Your kitten may also contract worms through their mother’s milk if she’s infected.

But don’t get too caught up in worry; worms are common and easy to detect. They’re also easily prevented if you ensure you’re protecting your kitten all year round.

Grey and white kitten looks directly at camera while laying on couch.

Types of worms in kittens

Several internal parasites may affect your kitten, all of which can be easily prevented with the right and consistent treatment. The three most common worms in kittens are:

Roundworm

For kittens, roundworm is usually contracted through their mother's milk. However, there are other ways cats and kittens can ingest a roundworm, such as by eating roundworm eggs or another organism that carries the roundworm larvae - like an insect or rodent. To look at, roundworms have a light brown or white colouring, skinny and long.

To get even more specific, there are two types of roundworm: Toxocara cati and Toxascara leonina. They both look quite similar and behave in the same way, but the Toxocara cati is the one most common type found in kittens.

Symptoms:

for both roundworms, the symptoms look the same, and can include:

  • Poor coat condition
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • In more severe cases, pneumonia and intestinal blockage
  • Coughing

Tapeworm

Another common worm your kitten or cat can contract, are tapeworms. Usually, they're transmitted by fleas. A tapeworm is considered a minor parasite because they can be easily treated by a vet. A tapeworm looks a bit like rice, as they are skinny and clear in appearance, which you will be able to identify from your cat’s vomit (if they do vomit them up), or within your kitten or cat's faeces.

Symptoms:

  • Dull coat
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Consistent vomiting
  • Constipation

Some types of this worm, commonly acquired by lizard-hunting kitties, require a stronger dose of medication to eradicate an infestation, rather than typical treatment.

Tapeworm

A hookworm is found in the intestines of an infected kitten or cat and has a mouth-like part including teeth, which they use to attach themselves to an intestine wall. Sound nasty, and it can be really dangerous for your kitten if left untreated.

There are several ways kittens or cats can become infected with hookworm, including encountering larvae infested soil or ingesting the larvae in food or water. From these sources, the larvae will often end up on the bottom of your cat's feet, whereas for kittens, it's through their mother's milk.

Symptoms:

  • Black stools
  • Anaemia or pale gums
  • Weakness - A dull coat
 

Kitten paw sitting on top of human hand.

Kitten worming treatment: wormers and examinations

If you notice your kitten displaying any of the above signs, make sure you make an appointment with your vet. In most cases, your vet will be able to treat your kitten with standard medications. During the physical exam, your vet may send off a stool sample for testing and order blood tests to get a full indication of your kitten's health. Once all tests are back, if any further treatment is required then your vet will let you know and provide a tailored regime.

However, prevention is better than treatment - and much less stressful.

"Your kitten should be treated for intestinal worms every two weeks until 12 weeks of age, then every four weeks until six months of age. After six months, worming should continue every three months for life.", says Dr Hay.

All wormers, available in either a paste or a tablet, will protect your kitten from all types of intestinal worms, some of which can transfer from cats to humans (just in case you were second guessing whether it was worth it!).

  • Tip from Dr Hay BVSc

    Try and get all of the pets in your household on the same worming schedule. It will help avoid cross infection between them and it will be easier to remember!

In addition to ensuring your kitten’s worm treatment is up to date, their ongoing healthcare should include vaccinations and regular flea treatment.