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Regular deworming is an important part of your cat’s preventative health care program, especially if they go outside and hunt or if you have children in your family.

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What are some types of parasites found in cats?

The most common parasites we see are hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and giardia. Other parasites, like toxoplasmosis, are potential causes of infection but aren’t seen as frequently. Skin parasites like fleas, tick and some mites are also common.

If my cat has worms, what symptoms should I look for?

Often you won’t see any symptoms at all. For many of the kinds of worms, you likely won’t even see worms in the feces. The exception is tapeworms as the eggs are passed in segments of the worm’s tail that fall off its body and excreted in the feces. These can look like rice or sesame seeds and may be found on top of your cat’s stool or dried up on the fur around the bum area.

Are worms dangerous to humans?

Some worms are contagious to people. Children and immunocompromised individuals are at the greatest risk. General hygiene, hand washing, scooping up your cat’s feces after it goes the washroom, and covering sandboxes, goes a long way to ensuring worms won’t be passed to you from your cat. Most of the intestinal parasites are passed through a fecal to oral transmission, however, some larva can migrate through the skin with bare feet. You have probably heard that pregnant women should not be exposed to cat feces because if they get infected with toxoplasmosis while pregnant, it can have negative effects on the developing baby.

What is the deworming schedule?

The Companion Animal Parasite Council has made recommendations on deworming that we follow here at the Aylmer Veterinary Clinic. Kittens are dewormed every two weeks until they are three months old and then once a month for at least the first year. Cats that continue to go outdoors, especially if they hunt, could be dewormed monthly all of the time. Some people choose to do quarterly deworming every three months.

Are there any side effects from deworming medication?

Side effects are rare. The most common would be the same as any medication, perhaps some gastrointestinal irritation. Oral tablets and topical medications are available for deworming. Occasionally we can see hair loss at the location of the topical application.

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