Kittens who are born from an infected mother cat or who are found outside may be infected by worms. They may get worms through their mother's milk or through contact with other infected animals.
It is essential for them to receive treatment because their growth may otherwise be stunted and they may suffer from deficiencies.
What's more, worms are contagious to humans and to other pets. Needless to say, deworming your kitten is a necessity.
How can I tell if a kitten has worms?
It may be hard to tell. Infected kitten may not show visible symptoms.
Sometimes you may see something that looks like white rice grains in their feces; or, when they have just come off, they may also look like actual worms.
In addition to that, you may see blood in their stools from colon and intestinal irritation.
Another potential sign is diarrhea. But runny stool can be caused by other ailments.
You should also be looking out for vomiting, as that can be a potential symptom for worms. In the vomit, you may see traces of worms.
It is also important to monitor the kitten's weight.
If you notice a failure to gain weight or even a reduction in weight gain, especially with a swollen tummy, worms might be causing it.
A healthy kitten should on average gain between 1.75 to 3.5 ounces every week.
Given that the vast majority of kittens are infected with worms, it is important to treat them for it.
What types of worms are there?
There are various types of worms that can infect your kitten. The four most common types are:
- heart worms
Roundworms is usually the most common culprit. Kitten get them from drinking their mother's milk. They look like small spaghetti noodles. They may cause vomiting, weight loss or weight stunt, and a potbellied appearance in your kitten.
Kittens usually get infected from tapeworms by ingesting fleas.
Tapeworms are long, flat, white worms. When fully grown, they measure to around 8 inches.
When the tapeworm matures, it starts shedding segments, the size of a grain or rice, that breaks off the tapeworm and pass into the cat's feces.
Those segments can often be spotted in the fur of your kitten's hind quarters.
Hookworms are more common in warm and humid environments. Overcrowding and poor sanitation can contributed to infection.
Kitten may become infected when she swallows hookworm larvae. But the larvae may also penetrate the kitten skin and migrate to her intestine.
Hookworms are smaller than roundworms. They are only about 1/8" long. They attach to the lining of the intestine wall and feed on the kitten's blood.
Hookworms can be pretty serious as they cause bleeding in the intestinal tract and internal blood loss. For serious infections, this can even lead to the kitten death.
Heartworms may be one of the most dangerous of worms.
Those are foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. They cause severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs.
They are spread through mosquitoes carrying cat heartworm larvae.
Vomiting and coughing are two of the most common symptoms but some kitten won't show any signs.
Should I deworm my kitten?
Worms are such a prevalent ailment for kittens that kittens should be preventively treated against the most common parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms.
It is particularly important to deworm kittens if:
- they were found outside
- they were found in unsanitary conditions
- they go outside
- their mother may have worms herself
Can I deworm a kitten myself?
For preventive care, deworming a kitten can be done at home.
All you will need is a:
- 1cc syringe
- a digital scale
- an oral dewormer
It is best to prepare the medication away from your kitten so as not to make her anxious.
Then, wait a few minutes before administrating it to her, to give you time to calm her if she suspects something. It is much easier to give medicine to a kitten if she is relaxed.
When should I deworm my kitten?
Kittens under two months should be dewormed every two weeks.
So you should deworm them at:
- 2 weeks old
- 4 weeks old
- 6 weeks old
- 8 weeks old
After 2 months old, you can give a dewormer once a month until they reach 6 months old.
And a final dewormer when they reach 12 months old.
After that, you can start deworming them as an adult.