How often should I worm my cat?

Whether your feline friend prefers the comfort of indoor living or is an enthusiastic outdoor hunting machine, untreated, it is likely they will get worms at some point. The two main types they can pick up are roundworm and tapeworm. Left untreated, worms in cats can do considerable damage. For that reason, it is important to use a cat de-wormer regularly to ensure your cat stays fit, healthy and worm free.

How does my cat pick up worms?

There are four main ways cats get worms:

  • Hunting and eating rodents, birds and other small animals. These creatures are often infected with the larval stages of roundworms and tapeworms. If your cat catches them and eats them, they will become infected by these worm eggs too
  • Mother cat’s milk. Unfortunately for kittens, their mothers can pass on roundworm lavae to them through their milk. Since kittens have not yet had a chance to build up a robust immune system, worms can be very dangerous for them
  • Through infected fleas. When cats groom themselves, they can ingest fleas from their coats. Fleas carry tapeworm larvae and these end up in your cat’s gut. It’s the most common way to get an infection of tapeworms in cats
  • Ingesting roundworm eggs from the environment. Roundworms in cats can be picked up from your garden as the eggs can survive for a long time in the soil. If your cat accidentally eats or licks some soil containing the eggs, the infection cycle begins.

What types of worms can my cat get?

The most common intestinal worms in cats in the United Kingdom are roundworms and tapeworms.

Roundworms

The two most common types of roundworms in cats are toxocara cati and toxascaris leonine. Your cat will become infected when they ingest roundworm eggs, via either a contaminated environment, such as soil, or by eating another creature that has roundworms themselves, such as a mouse. Toxocara cati can also be passed from the mother cat onto her kittens through her milk.

Tapeworms

There are two main tapeworms in cats- dipylidium caninum and taenia taeniaeformis. They are picked up in two ways. Either by ingesting fleas infected with tapeworm eggs, which occurs during grooming, or by eating infected creatures they have hunted and killed.

What worm treatment for cats should I use and how often?

It’s not always obvious your cat has an infestation so, it is always best to use a good worm treatment for cats regularly, to be on the safe side.

Roundworms-

  • Kittens need to be treated every 2 weeks, from 3-8 weeks old and then every month until they are 6 months old.
  • Adult cats (6 months and older) need to be treated every 1-3 months.

Tapeworms-

  • These are not normally a problem in kittens unless they have got fleas. Treat adult cats (6 months and older) every 1-3 months.

There are many good worm treatments for cats on the market, and most treat both roundworms in cats and tapeworms in cats. They come in different forms- tablets, granules, drops applied to the skin and injections. Prescription cat de-wormers tend to be more effective than off-the-shelf brands found in pet shops and supermarkets. It’s always best to take advice from your vet about which worm treatment for cats you should use.

If you have an Agria Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.