Worming and kittens: Common worms and how to treat them
Kittens can easily contract worms, and when they do they can be more severely impacted by infections than their adult cat counterparts.
Many kittens won’t show any sign of having worms, which is why it’s so important to treat them – whether or not you suspect their presence.
If left untreated, worms can cause weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, irritation and a range of other health issues that can negatively impact a kitten’s growth – and even survival.
It is best to start worming your kitten from 6 weeks of age. Familiarising yourself early on with the signs and symptoms of worms, as well as the types of treatments available, can help with preparation and prevention.
Types of worms commonly found in kittens
There are three main types of intestinal worm that can infect your kitten: roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms.
Roundworms are the most common and can be passed on through:
- The faeces of an infected cat
- Infected soil
- Their mother’s milk
- Hunting and eating infected animals e.g. birds, rodents, lizards
Because of their age and obvious close contact with their mother, kittens are particularly susceptible to roundworm.
Tapeworms are long, flat and segmented. Kittens are most likely to contract a tapeworm by accidentally eating infected fleas while grooming. As the kitten grooms, they ingest infected fleas and the larvae of the tapeworm attaches itself to the kitten’s small intestine, where it develops into an adult worm.
Hookworms are blood suckers that live in the intestines of kittens and cats. Kittens can be infected by:
- Ingesting larvae from the environment that hatch out of eggs from the faeces of an infected cat
- Hunting and eating infected animals
- Larvae from the soil infecting through the skin
Kittens can also be infected by heartworm and lungworms, and the health consequences of these parasites can be severe, so prevention is key.
When to begin worming treatments in kittens
In contrast to dogs, kittens are not born with worm larvae already present in their gut, but they can contract them from their mother’s milk. Because of this risk, worming treatment should begin from a young age.
Worming treatments such as Drontal® worming tablets for cats kill every type of intestinal worm commonly found in cats. Worming treatment with Drontal can begin once kittens are six weeks old, and needs to be repeated at 8 weeks of age. Once your kitten is 9 weeks of age they can start on monthly Advocate® which will then continue to control intestinal nematode worms, and in addition: fleas, heartworm and lungworms.
Regular worming treatments will ensure your kitty stays happy, healthy and safe from worms throughout its nine lives as a cat.