Worming your Cat

 

 

There are two main types of intestinal worms that affect the cat; Cestodes (Tapeworms) and Nematodes (Roundworms).

If a cat has a lot of intestinal worms (a high worm burden) they may have symptoms such as a potbelly, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, dull-coat and sometimes an intestinal blockage can occur causing faecal constipation.

The tapeworm head attaches to the intestines and grows a chain of segments each of which contains eggs. As the segments fill and drop off they are passed in the faeces and maybe found wriggling around the anus. The segments look like grains of rice and seeing them on the fur maybe your first sign of a tapeworm infestation.

The tapeworm species Dipylidium canium is also carried as an egg cyst in every flea’s body so if a cat has fleas and accidentally swallows one when grooming itself then this becomes the start of a tapeworm cycle. Humans may also be infected with it if they accidently ingest a flea too, this is therefore a zoonotic parasite.

Taenia species of tapeworm may be passed to cats who are fed raw meat or hunt rabbits and mice. Echinococcus granulosus is another type of tapeworm which may be caught when a sheep carcass is eaten. Therefore if your pet is out hunting, regular worming is advised and raw meat diets are best to be avoided.

Small mammals such as mice and rabbits play a part in some of lifecycles of the tapeworm species as already discussed. Mice, gerbils and hamsters may also be infected with a type of tapeworm and this is zoonotic to the owner if eggs are accidentally ingested. Faecal samples can be examined for eggs but light infections are well tolerated.

Roundworms look like spaghetti and are not segmented so are easy to distinguish from tapeworm. Roundworms can be broken down into Ascarids, Hookworms and Whipworms.

 

The Toxocara species (part of the ascarid group) may be transmitted from mother to infant through the umbilical cord and through the milk, from the environment or when eating rodents and birds which have picked them up from the environment themselves. Toxocara canis is responsible for interfering with vision when ingested by humans so definitely worth keeping your pet up-to-date.

Hookworms such as Uncinaria stenocephala are found in high percentages throughout the fox population in the UK. Infected dogs are most likely to come from kennels or areas where a large number of canines are repeatedly exercised in the same grass runs. The larvae in the environment can penetrate the skin and cause a reaction (dermatitis). If ingested the larvae travel to the intestines and may cause diarrhoea. Infection of this type of hookworm in cats is unlikely but is possible with Ancylostoma caninum, however it is unknown how commonly this occurs, as it is not widespread UK.

There are a variety of wormers on the market but it is worth checking exactly which worms they kill, generally speaking it is worth selecting a broad spectrium wormer such as Drontal, Panacur or Milbemax which are avalible in various palatable  forms.

Drontal tablets come in two sizes, cat and cat XL. Each Drontal Cat tablet doses a cat weighing up to 4kg in bodyweight and a Drontal Cat XL tablet doses a cat weighing up to 6kg. They should not be given to cats under 6 weeks of age or whilst pregnant. They can be given directly into the mouth or added to your cat's food. Pyrantel is one of the active ingredients of Drontal Cat Tablets and is active against the following roundworms: Toxocara cati, and Toxascaris leonina; praziquantel, being the other active ingredient, is effective against tapeworms, in particular Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis.

The product has been shown to be effective in the control of hookworms Ancylostoma tubaeforme and A. braziliense and the tapeworm Joyeuxiella pasqualei, none of which occur naturally in cats in the UK but may occasionally be found in imported animals. Praziquantel is effective against Echinococcus multilocularis. E. multilocularis does not occur in the UK but is becoming more common in some European countries. As a precautionary measure to prevent establishment of E. multilocularis in the UK, it is recommended that all cats entering the country be treated with praziquantel. Drontal tablets are legally classified as NFA-VPS so can be supplied without the need for a veterinary prescription.

 

Panacur is available in an oral paste, granules or an oral suspension.  It is a broad spectrum anthelmintic for the treatment of domestic dogs and cats infected with immature and mature stages of nematodes of the gastro-intestinal and respiratory tracts.

Adult dogs and cats; For the treatment of adult dogs and cats infected with gastro-intestinal nematodes and cestodes;

Ascarid spp. (Toxocara canis, Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina)

Ancylostoma spp.

Trichuris spp.

Uncinaria spp.

Taenia spp.

Puppies and kittens; For the treatment of puppies and kittens infected with gastro-intestinal nematodes and puppies infected with protozoa (Giardia spp.).

Pregnant dogs

Other;

Also for the treatment of dogs infected with lungworm Oslerus (Filaroides) osleri, or protozoa Giardia spp. and cats infected with lungworm Aelurostrongylus abstrusus. Also has an ovicidal effect on nematode eggs.

Panacur oral paste, granules and oral suspension for small animals are classified as NFA-VPS medicines so can be supplied without the need for a veterinary prescription. 

 

Milbemax tablets for small cats and kittens and Milbemax tablets for cats are classified as POM-V medicines so a veterinary prescription is required for supply.


For the treatment of  the following species:

Tapeworms: Dipylidium caninum, Taenia spp., Echinococcus multilocularis

Roundworms: Toxocara cati, Ancylostoma tubaeforme

Prevention of heartworm disease (Dirofilaria immitis) if concomitant treatment against tapeworms is indicated.

 

Examples of spot on wormers include Droncit, Profender and Stronghold.

Droncit Spot on is for the treatment of tapeworms of cats. The product is effective against mature and immature forms of Dipylidium caninum and Taenia species. The product is also effective against Echinococcus multilocularis. It is legally categorised as a AVM-GSL so can be purchased without the need for a veterinary prescription.

The minimum dose rate is 8 mg/kg which equates to 1 tube per 2.5 kg bodyweight.

Bodyweight (kg)

Number of

tubes

Quantity of

Praziquantel (mg)

mg/kg

Bodyweight

1-2.5

1

20

8-20

>2.5-5

2

40

8-16

>5

3

60

maximum 12

Administration;

Remove one pipette from the package. Hold the pipette in an upright position, twist and pull off cap. Use reversed cap to twist and remove seal from pipette. See figure 1.

Advantix - Opening pipette (1)

Figure 1: Opening a pipette

Part the hair on the cat’s neck at the base of the skull until the skin is visible. See figure 2.

Application to cat

Figure 2: Administration

Place the tip of the pipette on the skin and squeeze firmly several times to empty the contents directly onto the skin. Application at the base of the skull will minimise the opportunity for the cat to lick the product. To minimise the possibility of run-off after application of more than one pipette, it is advised that the applications should be performed slowly to allow absorption and that it may be advisable to allow the contents of the previous pipette to be absorbed before applying another.

Tapeworm infection is certain to re-occur unless control of the intermediate hosts such as fleas, mice, etc, is undertaken.

 

Profender Spot on  is for cats suffering from, or at risk from, mixed parasitic infections caused by roundworms and tapeworms of the following species:

Roundworms (Nematodes)

  • Toxocara cati (mature adult, immature adult, L4 and L3)
  • Toxascaris leonina (mature adult, immature adult and L4)
  • Ancylostoma tubaeforme (mature adult, immature adult and L4)


Tapeworms (Cestodes)

  • Taenia taeniaeformis (adult)
  • Dipylidium caninum (adult)
     
  • Echinococcus multilocularis (adult)

Profender is classified as a POM-V medicine so a veterinary prescription is required for this product.

 

Stronghold is a spot on flea treatment for cats that is also for the treatment of adult roundworms (Toxocara cati) and adult intestinal hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme). 

 

Remove the Stronghold tube from its protective package. Holding the tube upright, firmly depress the cap to puncture the applicator seal, then remove the cap. Part the hair at the base of the animal’s neck in front of the shoulder blades to expose a small area of skin. Apply the tip of the Stronghold tube directly to the skin without massaging. Squeeze the tube firmly to empty the contents in one spot. Avoid contact between Stronghold and fingers.

 

≤ 2.5 kg

1 tube of Stronghold 15 mg (Rose coloured top)

2.6 – 7.5 kg

1 tube of Stronghold 45 mg (Blue coloured top)

> 7.5 kg

Appropriate combination of tubes

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