How Often Should You Really Deworm a Cat?
Intestinal worms are extremely common in cats. In fact, they’re so common that your cat will likely pick up these unpleasant parasites sooner or later. The only way to be sure your cat is protected is to deworm them at least four times a year (and more frequently for adventurous outdoor cats and prolific hunters).
So, how often should you deworm your cat? Let’s find out.
How Often Should I Deworm My Cat?
- Adult cats: Most cats should be dewormed at least every three months. A typical deworming schedule is four times a year — once for each season.
- Prolific hunting cats: Cats that like to hunt are at much higher risk of getting worms from eating infected rodents like mice. For this reason, your vet is likely to recommend deworming your cat monthly.
- Kittens: If you have a weaned kitten that’s never been dewormed, or you don’t know if or when they were last dewormed, it's recommended that you consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to plan a deworming schedule based on the kitten's needs. You can also learn more in our guide to deworming kittens.
The Benefits of Deworming Your Cat
Keeping your cat on a regular deworming schedule can help protect your pet.
- Helps keep your cat healthy: Cats with worms may appear perfectly healthy on the outside, but on the inside, it’s a different story. Worms live in the intestines and feed on your cat’s nutrients or blood. In some cases, this can lead to weight loss, increased appetite, diarrhea, dry and coarse fur, and weakness. Severe infections can lead to anemia or a “pot belly.”
- Helps prevent reinfection: Most dewormers work by paralyzing and killing the worms in your cat. Regular, continuous worming is vital to help remove any further worms your cat may pick up.
- Helps protect yourself and your loved ones: Some worms, like roundworms, can pass to humans through contaminated soil or pet waste, and can cause damage to organs and the eyes. Although this is very rare, it can be serious — especially for young children, leading to blindness in extreme cases. Deworming your cat can help lessen the chances of your family encountering intestinal worms.
What Kind of Dewormer Should I Use?
There are various types of deworming treatments, such as tablets or spot-ons, that can be given to your cat in different ways. Your vet will be able to advise on the best type for your cat.
Usually given to cats directly or mixed into their food, deworming tablets are the most common type available.
Spot-on dewormers are applied in the same way as some flea treatments: by simply adding drops to the cat’s neck near the base of the skull.
Paste or Granule
While some find this format harder to administer than tablets and drops, this is another option available to pet owners, especially those who like to mix deworming treatments into their cat’s food.
What Types of Worms in Cats Do I Need to Treat For?
Roundworms and tapeworms are two of the most common types of worms your cat is likely to pick up.
Roundworm infections occur in cats of all ages around the world, but especially kittens. Cats may ingest roundworm eggs from a contaminated environment or by eating infected rodents. Adult roundworms can reach up to four inches long and live in the cat’s intestine, where they survive on food your cat eats.
Long, flat and made of many segments, these worms are transmitted to cats via small rodents or fleas. Tapeworms live in the small intestine and absorb nutrients your cat eats. Sometimes their eggs can be spotted in your cat’s feces, appearing like grains of rice. Tapeworms are more likely to affect older cats, unless a kitten has fleas.
Do I Need to Deworm an Indoor Cat?
In short, yes: All cats should be regularly dewormed. Fleas carrying tapeworms can easily get into homes, hitching a ride on clothes and bags, other pets or visitors. Indoor cats can easily ingest fleas — and potentially tapeworms — when they’re grooming themselves.
Regularly treating your cat with a flea preventive can also help reduce the risk of them contracting tapeworms. Speak to your vet about the best flea treatment and worming products for your cat.