Where do kittens get worms from?
Kittens are particularly vulnerable to worms, which they can pick up easily from a very early age. They get worms from their environment – for example, through contact with infected faeces, soil, vegetation, water, hunting, scavenging or when a kitten suckles its mother’s milk. Worms in kittens can cause serious health issues so here we discuss the best way to protect and prevent your kitten from suffering from these intestinal parasites.
What are the signs of worms in kittens?
Despite many kittens not showing any outward signs that they may have intestinal worms, they may well be harbouring them inside. Some signs to be aware of include
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Pot-bellied/bloated appearance
- Lots of washing/cleaning the area around the bottom
- ‘Rice-like’ segments around the kitten’s bottom
Some of these signs can also be caused by other illness and it is important to contact your vet if you notice any of the above in your kitten.
What harm can worms do to your kitten?
Roundworms are easily picked up by kittens and can cause serious health issues for your pet if left untreated. Young cats and kittens may also get tapeworm if they ingest a flea that is infected with worm eggs and then become infested. Kittens with worms* may suffer from severe weight loss and stunted growth, anaemia and abdominal upset – these conditions can be fatal so adopting a deworming programme from an early age will offer the best protection for your new kitten. Intestinal worms live off the food your kitten eats, depriving him or her of proper nutrition. This is why your kitten with worms may have a very big appetite but will still be losing weight. In rare cases, the sheer number of roundworms present in a kitten can cause blockages and they may have the classic ‘pot-bellied’ appearance. They can even cause anaemia.
When to start worming kittens?
Your veterinary practice or retailer can offer advice on when is best to worm your kitten
but, as a general rule, worm at three weeks of age, then every 2 weeks of age until weaning, and then monthly until they are 6 months old. After that, kittens can be wormed on a monthly basis. There are many different deworming products available but make sure you choose one that is suitable for kittens. These products come in many forms, such as tablets to put into food or spot-on drops to put on the back of the kitten’s neck. Once you have given a worming treatment, you may see worms in your kitten’s poo or, on rare occasions, they may vomit worms, which can be alarming to see. If you are worried at all do contact your vet.
Treating worms in kittens
Selecting a deworming product appropriate for your kitten’s age and weight is essential. Also, some deworming products will only kill a certain type of worm – for example, only tapeworms, but will not kill other types, such as roundworms. Dronspot is a broad action spot-on formula and will kill all common intestinal worms found in UK cats. As your kitten grows into an adult cat don’t be tempted to stop your deworming regime; adult cats can pick up worms at any point too and research has shown that majority of UK cats needs monthly worming.**
**ESCCAP Guideline Worm Control in Dogs and Cats, Feb 2020