Deworming Kittens: When and at What Intervals Is It Necessary?
Worms are very common in cats. The troublesome endoparasites can of course also occur in young animals. It is therefore important to deworm kittens regularly in order to prevent a potential infestation with the parasites. Below we will explain when kittens should be dewormed for the first time and what else to consider in that context.
Deworming kittens – the main points at a glance
- Kittens should be dewormed for the first time at an age of around three to four weeks.
- The kittens and the mother are usually dewormed once a fortnight until the kittens are weaned from their mother's milk.
- After moving into their new home, kittens are normally dewormed once every two months and later every three months.
- From their second year of life, deworming is recommended for indoor cats once every six months and for outdoor cats once every three months.
- Natural alternatives for deworming are less strenuous for the kitten's organism.
How do kittens catch worms?
There are various types of worms which are transmitted in different ways and which can infest adult cats as well as kittens.
Cucumber tapeworm for example is transmitted through fleas, while lung worm is initially transmitted from snail to birds and mice and from these to cats.
Kittens can already become infested with the parasites in the womb. Furthermore, transmission through the mother's milk is also possible if the mother herself has worms.
Besides, the tiny worm eggs that are excreted by the worms' hosts spread in their surroundings. In that way they can not only enter the kittens' bodies through direct contact with contaminated faeces, but they can also be brought from outdoors into the home in various ways. Therefore, even if the kittens and their mother are exclusively kept indoors, a worm infestation is entirely possible.
Why worms cause problems particularly for kittens
In otherwise healthy adult cats a worm infestation can often be completely asymptomatic. However, since the immune system is not fully developed in kittens, a worm infestation is particularly dangerous for them and is more often associated with severe symptoms.
Depending on the type of worms and the severity of the infestation, worms can cause in particular the following symptoms in your kittens:
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- A bloated tummy
- A lacklustre, dull coat
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
As the parasites deplete their hosts of important nutrients, an untreated severe infestation with worms in kittens can even lead to stunted growth and can negatively impact the healthy development of the four-legged friends.
Sometimes worm eggs or individual segments of tapeworms are visible in the kittens' faeces, or whole worms can be choked out when they vomit. However, this is not always the case, therefore sometimes the diagnosis of a worm infestation can only be confirmed by a vet who will require stool samples from several days for this purpose.
When should kittens be dewormed for the very first time?
Kittens can catch worms from their mother even before they are born. For this reason, early deworming of the little four-legged friends is vital.
Normally kittens can and should be dewormed for the first time at the age of three to four weeks. The kittens' mother is usually treated at the same time, so that all animals are free from parasites and they can't reinfect each other over and over again.
Deworming kittens regularly
A single dose of deworming medication is of course not enough for kittens. In order to protect them permanently from the bothersome parasites, the regular deworming of kittens is advisable.
Until the kittens are weaned from their mother's milk, all the animals including the mother are usually dewormed once a fortnight. At the age of twelve weeks, the little kittens usually move into their new home. Further deworming is often recommended once the animals reach an age of four and six months. After that, kittens should be dewormed at the age of nine and twelve months.
In their second year of life, the intervals of deworming depend on how the cat is kept. Pure indoor cats have a low risk of infestation and therefore only need to be dewormed twice a year as a preventive measure. For outdoor cats on the other hand deworming is recommended four times a year, since they are at a higher risk of catching worms.
How can worms in kittens be prevented?
It is almost impossible to avoid an infestation with worms in kittens and even adult cats. However, the risk is considerably lower in cats that are kept exclusively indoors if good hygiene is observed conscientiously.
Nevertheless, it is best to deworm kittens regularly in order to eliminate an infestation with the pesky parasites at an early stage and to avoid potential negative consequences for the kittens' health.
Deworming kittens – our conclusion
As you can see, worms in cats is something you should take serious from an early age. Deworming kittens is an important part of their health care and should be carried out regularly.
Due to the strain conventional deworming agents put on the kitten's organism it can make sense to use natural alternatives that are better tolerated by the little four-legged friends.