Cats may be very fastidious creatures, but this doesn’t make them immune to intestinal parasitism or the presence of worms in the gut such as tapeworms, whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms as well as other types of intestinal worms. As a matter of fact, it can very well be one of the reasons why felines can get infected with these parasites. The good news is that you don’t have to worry that much since there are a number of excellent feline dewormers in the market today. In this article, we will be letting you in on the result of our research on 6 of the best dewormers for cats.
Best Dewormers for Cats Buying Guide
In the feline world that is full of dewormers all claiming to be the best, it is easy to get confused and choose the wrong one for your cat. As modern-day pet parent you need to be more vigilant about the things that you buy for your pet. Hopefully, this best dewormers for cats buying guide we’ve prepared will help you become more proactive in terms of managing your pet’s intestinal parasitism issues.
What is a Dewormer? How Does it Work?
A dewormer is a medication that is especially formulated to affect the life cycle of different types of intestinal parasites in cats. These formulations vary depending on the type of organism that is being targeted.
For instance, Praziquantel is most often indicated in the management of tapeworm infections while Piperazine is mostly indicated in the removal of roundworms. For hookworms, a type of roundworm, Mebendazole or even Albendazole is typically used. Another type of roundworm, the whipworm, may also respond well to the administration of Piperazine.
These medications are called anthelmintics or anti-parasitics. They work in a variety of ways.
For example, the anthelminthic Praziquantel has several modes of action. First, it can increase the permeability of the cell membranes of tapeworms and other parasites so that there is a sudden influx of calcium into the cell. This leads to forceful contractions in the parasites similar to seizures. This leads to paralysis and their eventual dislodgement from their sites of attachment. Once dislodged, immune system cells can destroy the parasites.
Second, Praziquantel can also interfere in the worm’s ability to take in adenosine. This can lead to flaccidity which makes the parasite to lose its grip at the site of attachment. Third, the anthelminthic can also neutralize the inherent protective ability of parasites to resist digestive forces, making them highly vulnerable to digestive enzymes.
As for Piperazine, it works by blocking the reuptake of acetylcholine at the junction of the nerves and smooth muscles of the parasites. This action is also mediated by Piperazine’s effects on gamma-aminobutyric acid. The end-result is that the parasite is paralyzed and loses its attachment where it is passed through the stool.
Other anthelminthics may have the same mechanism of action: causing paralysis to remove the worms’ attachment from the walls of the intestines, although the mechanism of causing paralysis may slightly differ from formulation to formulation.
What are the Symptoms of Worms in Cats?
The clinical manifestations of an intestinal worm infestation in cats depend on the location of the infection and the type of the intestinal parasite causing the infection. However, they do share many common manifestations which can include the following:
- Loose, watery, or soft stools
- Stools that are colored red or with streaks of blood
- Stools with clearly visible worms or even segments of worms
- Segments of intestinal parasites seen near and around the cat’s anal area
- Potbellied appearance or bloated abdomen
- Vomiting or retching
- Weight loss
- Difficulty or trouble breathing
The presence of worms in the stool and weight loss is very common in tapeworm infections. Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and pot-bellied appearance are typical of roundworm infections. Abdominal pain, weakness, diarrhea, and bloody stool are frequently associated with hookworm infections. If there’s rapid weight loss, severe vomiting, and lethargy in your kitty, you can suspect whipworms to be the culprit.
How to Choose the Right Dewormer?
In choosing the right dewormer you can consider the following factors in your buying decision.
Read the label carefully. Different products come with different active ingredients that are specific for certain types of parasites. Some only work on tapeworms or roundworms while others can provide coverage for other types of worms. Additionally, try to ask your vet about the most effective anthelminthic to use on your pet. While there are products that can be bought over the counter without prescription, it is still best to treat your pet with your vet’s guidance.
Your veterinarian can help you determine whether the dewormer is safe to use or not. Alternatively, you can check the list of ingredients and perform a very thorough search about the ingredient’s safety record. Read the label. Some formulations cannot be used on certain life stages of cats like those below 6 weeks old, those that are lactating, or even those that are pregnant. Again, it is crucial that you allow your vet to guide you in your buying decision.
- Ease of administration
Some deowrmers come in tablet form while others are in liquid drops. Each has its advantages and disadvantages so you will need to choose the one that is a lot easier and more convenient to administer. You may also want to factor palatability as this can affect the success of administration. If it is not tasty, your cat will most likely spit the medication out.
How Long Does it Take to Work?
The typical deworming process takes about 2 to 3 weeks to really remove the intestinal parasites from your cat’s system. Unfortunately, this is just for the more usual mild infections. Moderate to severe intestinal parasitism can take even longer to treat especially when some of these worms have already migrated to other organs of the cat’s body such as the lungs, the liver, the heart, and sometimes even the brain. In such cases, your veterinarian will typically evaluate other options.
How to Prevent Worms in the First Place
To understand how you can protect your cat from getting infected with worms, it is crucial that you understand how the different types of worms are transmitted in the first place. This way you know exactly what to do and what things to avoid.
These worms look more like spaghetti noodles. Because of their cylindrical bodies, they are aptly called the roundworms. The 2 most common species known to affect cats include Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina.
These intestinal parasites can be transmitted in a variety of ways, although the most common is through the ingestion of the stool of feces of another cat that has roundworm infection. In most instances, cats eat the intermediate host where the roundworm larvae temporarily reside. Examples of intermediate hosts of roundworms are rodents, birds, earthworms, and even cockroaches.
Roundworms can also be transmitted to kittens by an infected mommy cat. These parasites are known to migrate to the mammary glands where they get transmitted into the breast milk and ingested by the young kitten.
Hookworms are just like roundworms, although smaller, no longer than an eighth of an inch long. The eggs of these parasites are typically found in cat feces. When another cat steps onto or gets in contact with the hookworm-infested stool, the parasite can burrow into your cat’s skin and find its way into its intestines. Alternatively, during grooming your cat can accidentally ingest the eggs where it travels into the intestines where it will mature and produce eggs and more larvae. Young kittens can also be infected with hookworms if the mother cat they are nursing from is infected with Ancylostoma braziliense or any other member of the hookworm family.
These parasites are very easy to spot since they are easily passed down in the stools more as segments than as whole worms. Like your tape measure that has inches or centimeters as segments of measurement, the same is true with Dipylidium caninum and other tapeworm species affecting cats. Many of these segments can break-off so you can easily find them in your cat’s feces or congregating in an area around your pet’s anus.
Cat tapeworms are transmitted by fleas which serve as both a secondary and an intermediate host for the tapeworm. If your cat ingests a tapeworm-infected flea, this will be released from the flea as soon as your cat’s digestive enzymes break down the flea. The freed parasite then latches onto the intestinal wall where it grows and grows.
The most common whipworm that can affect cats is the Trichuris serrata. They are named as such because of their whip-like appearance: a long and slender front and a thick and stubby back, resembling the whip and whip handle, respectively. Whipworm can be transmitted when cats ingest either food or water that has been contaminated with the parasite’s eggs. They find their way into the intestines where they grow, mature, produce eggs, and hatch them to begin another cycle.
Based on the foregoing, preventing worms in cats can include the following.
- Keep your cat indoors so that it will not come into contact with parasite-contaminated feces or objects as well as intermediate hosts of these parasites.
- Keep your house and your yard clean. This is especially true if Garfield happens to be a skilled Houdini. So you will need to make sure that the environment it ventures into is relatively safe.
- If you need to handle cat feces or dead intermediate hosts, make sure to wear the appropriate safety gear such as gloves. This is important especially when cleaning your cat’s litter box.
- Regular visits to your veterinarian should help you keep tabs with your pet’s health. This way you can be alerted to a potential problem associated with intestinal parasitism.
Choosing the right dewormer for your cat is crucial if you don’t want it to suffer needlessly because of the complications of parasitic infections. More importantly, you can actually prevent these infections from ever happening.