What are intestinal parasites?

They are parasites that live in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common thing that people think of is worms. And they are parasites that we can sometimes find on a fecal flotation, or we can send them off to the lab for some enzyme or PCR testing. But they're just those nasty boogers that live in that gastrointestinal tract.

Dr. Cara Hill
Advanced Animal Care

How do intestinal parasites impact the health and wellbeing of your cat?

I call them passengers, and the reason for that is because they're hanging out in there, and they're eating the nutrition that your cat is supposed to be getting. We can see some weight loss because they're not getting all of their nutrition. But these parasites can also cause irritation and inflammation of that gastrointestinal tract, so we see many gastrointestinal signs, too, like vomiting, upset stomach, unwillingness to eat, and even things like loose or runny stool leading to diarrhea. Sometimes it even has blood in it.

What prevention measures can be taken to ensure that my cat doesn't get worms or other parasites?

The easiest and best thing to do is to keep your pet on monthly prevention. For kitties, my favorite monthly prevention is the Revolution Plus. I like it so much because it covers everything, so we're getting your pet protected from inside out, starting with ear mites. It prevents heartworm disease and fleas and ticks now with the Plus part of Revolution, as well as preventing those intestinal parasites.

What are some signs and symptoms of intestinal parasites in your cat?

Some owners see parasites on their cat, so if you've ever seen what looks like a tiny grain of rice sticking to their bum, that is an intestinal parasite right there. Sometimes you can see the fleas or the ticks on their hair coat, especially if they go outside, though we do see them on indoor cats as well. You can also see some of those symptoms, so losing weight or having vomiting or diarrhea would be a reason to have your cat checked for parasites.

How will a veterinarian diagnose intestinal parasites in cats?

We generally do a fecal flotation for intestinal parasites to see if we can find any eggs from those parasites. That's what we're looking for. And then, based on what eggs we're seeing, we can diagnose what parasites are in there. Sometimes we have to send off to the lab to have some more specific tests run because we can't always see the eggs on every parasite’s fecal flotation.

What are some possible conditions caused by intestinal parasites, and what are the treatments?

Again, we see a lot of gastrointestinal diseases. We can see weight loss or an unthrifty hair coat. There are also some diseases that we call fakers if that makes sense. It looks like a severe disease, but it's caused by an infestation of intestinal parasites. That's why we tend to recommend those intestinal parasite checks a lot. And then, depending on what we find, then we can recommend a treatment. I love feline Drontal here. It is an oral dewormer that we give that covers all of the major intestinal parasites that we see in cats. Some other ones require some different specific treatments, but I tend to reach for that feline Drontal for all of the internal parasites out there.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of intestinal parasites so important?

The parasites are freeloading for a good meal, and they're reproducing. That's what they're doing. And so we can get to the point where the burden is so bad that we can have an obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. It can lead to so much depletion that it makes your cat very, very ill. It's even gotten to the point where I've seen such a terrible burden in a pet and granted, it's very few and far between, but it caused such severe anemia that that pet needed a blood transfusion.

When should my cat see a veterinarian for deworming?

I recommend, again, keeping the cat on the monthly prevention that covers everything—ear mites, heartworms, fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites. Keep on that monthly. For the most part, that's all you need to do. If you don't stay on monthly all-in-one prevention and your cat goes outside, I would recommend at least deworming your pet every three months, especially if they're a hunter. As we know, some cats are hunters out there because they can pick up intestinal parasites from mice or rabbits or crickets or bugs. Things like that that they tend to hunt can transmit those parasites.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 625-5678, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Deworming - FAQs

Dr. Cara Hill
Advanced Animal Care

How is my cat tested for worms?

The most routine test that we do here is a fecal flotation to look for eggs coming from that parasite, though sometimes we do have to send some samples off to the lab to check that way.

What medication is used for deworming?

The medication that I use most frequently in the clinic is called Feline Drontal. It gets all of our major intestinal parasites, though sometimes there are those oddballs out there that require special medication.

Can I deworm my cat at home?

If you're comfortable pilling your cat at home, then we can send the dewormer home with you. Or my other recommendation to you is to keep your cat on a monthly preventative. I like Revolution Plus because it covers everything, and that's a topical that you can put on at home—that way, you know your pet is protected year-round.

How often should my cat be dewormed?

If you're not doing a monthly preventative like Revolution Plus and your cat goes outside, I would recommend at least deworming every three months. If they're a hunter getting bugs, rodents, rabbits, or anything like that, they can pick up some intestinal parasites through their hunting, and I like to deworm them every three months if they're not already on a monthly program.

What happens when my cat is dewormed?

The dewormer that we're giving is killing the worms in there, and it's the adult stage of the worms. Sometimes you can see those adult worms pass in the stool - that's not uncommon - but not all of these worms are visible to the naked eye. Some owners do, and some owners don't.

Is deworming necessary for cats?

If they're not on monthly prevention and they are going outside and hunting, I definitely recommend it. And cats can even hunt inside too. I know some indoor cats, they get some crickets and things that find their way into the house, and they can pick up parasites that way. I'd recommend it for all kitties.

What would happen if my cat isn't dewormed?

Your cat could develop an intestinal parasite burden, leading to some gastrointestinal signs, possible weight loss, and some other things. It’s an easy fix, and it's generally an easy thing to test for, so we're happy to check your cat out if you want to call and make an appointment.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 625-5678, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.