If you’ve not owned a kitten before, be prepared for a steep learning curve. There’s lot to consider, particularly in respect to their health. At this young age they have a weaker immune system than adult cats and can be prone to parasitic infections if they are dewormed properly.
Aspects to consider will be how often to deworm new kittens, how much dewormer to use, and what age to deworm a kitten – all of which I will answer here today.
How often to deworm a kitten? New kittens should be dewormed often, at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. After 12 of weeks of age, the age to deworm a kitten changes to once every 3 months from then and into the rest of their adult lives.
Worms are very common in kittens since they can easily be passed from mother to kitten before birth or during feeding. In fact, most kittens are actually born with worms, so the deworming process is critical.
Read on to get the ins-and-outs of deworming your new kitten. I’ll also be sharing why it’s necessary, the right age and what to expect when you’ve just dewormed your kitten.
Why you need to deworm kittens
As I’ve already mentioned, mothers can transfer worms to their kittens. This happens before birth while the kittens are still in the womb. Two of the most common types of worms found in kittens are roundworms and hookworms.
Aside from being passed through the placenta before or during birth, it’s also possible for the infected mother to pass the hookworms and roundworms to her kittens during feeding.
Since kittens are prone to tasting and eating everything they encounter, it’s also possible for them to eat larvated eggs that may be in their environment.
What age to deworm a kitten?
As kittens are extremely susceptible to contracting worms from their mothers or their environment, vets recommend deworming them at an early age in their lives. The age to deworm a kitten will be 2 weeks, then 4, 6, 8. and 12 weeks.
Ordinarily, most kittens are dewormed for the first time around six weeks of age. However, vets advise that kitten can be dewormed for the first time as early as two weeks if you suspect the mother to have worms. This also applies if the mother has a history of worms.
If you start deworming your kitten at two weeks, then the cycle to follow would be 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age. Once the kitten reaches 12 weeks of age, the deworming process can be scheduled for every three months for the rest of its life.
Consult your vet for advice on the best dewormer for your type of cats.
How much dewormer to give a kitten?
How much dewormed to give your kitten will be typically based on their weight and type of infection. If your kitten is already showing signs of having worms, it’s best to take the little fellow directly to the vet to prescribe medication specific to that type of worm.
Deworming medication can come in the form of tablets, capsules or liquids. Each specific medication will have clear instructions on the labeling and packaging. Don’t exceed the amounts indicated on the label.
What are the common signs of worms in kittens?
Ideally, you want to deworm your kitten before they get worms. But your kitten might contract worms from an infected mother before the date you planned to do the deworming. It’s important to know what signs and symptoms to look for so that you can get your kitten to the vet.
Some of the common symptoms to look for include the following:
- Weight loss
- Changes in appetite
- Scooting on their bottom
- Vomiting (this is a common symptom with roundworm infections)
- Rough, dry coat and an overall sickly appearance
- Small spaghetti looking worms in the stool
- Diarrhea which may also be bloody
- Dehydration and lethargy
If you suspect your kitten might have worms or has been exposed to infected cats, consult your vet to recommend the right medication to eradicate the problem.
What happens when you deworm a kitten?
Have you ever given any thought to the exact science of deworming your kitten? What actually happens to the worms? The two main ingredients found in kitten deworming medications are Pyrantel Pamoate and Niclosamide.
Pyrantel Pamoate belongs to a group of drugs known as anthelmintics. These medications are also known as “broad spectrum” because they can easily kill a whole host of parasites that might live in your cat’s gut. The medication works by paralyzing the worms and this prevents them from infecting the rest of your cats’ intestines.
The kitten’s body can then expels the paralyzed worms through their stool. It’s completely normal to see dead worms in your kitten’s droppings. Some of the worms might still be alive as can be seen by a slight flicking motion. Rest assured, the worms will die.
Steps to follow during the deworming process
If you’re taking your kitten to the vet the process is quite simple because the doctor does all the work! However, if you’re administering dewormer at home, there are a few simple steps to follow which include the following:
Step 1: Weigh the kitten to ensure the right dose is administered.
Step 2: If you’re using the liquid form, use a syringe. Draw up the required amount into the syringe. Be sure to not exceed the advised amount.
Step 3: It might be easy to give the kitten the medication if it’s sitting in your lap. Don’t make it too obvious that you’re about to administer medication. The kitten will clamp its mouth shut and it’ll become a huge struggle.
Step 4: Open the kitten’s mouth holding it open from behind the cat’s head and gently squirt the liquid to the back of its throat so that it flows down the throat. Don’t do this from the front as the kitten will spit it out. If you’re giving the kitten a tablet, gently press the roof of its mouth to get the mouth open. Use your other hand to gently push the tablet to the back of the kitten’s tongue. Close the mouth and gently stroke the throat until the tablet is swallowed.
Step 5: Have some water on hand. A squirt bottle would be handy in this instance. Give the kitten a quick squirt of water to help wash the tablet down the throat.
Step 6: Reward your kitten with a small treat. This will make it easier to do next time. As the kitten gets older, it might get more difficult to do as the kitten is wise to your actions. Rewarding your pet will make the kitten less likely to fight the process.
Can I hide the dewormer in food?
Sometimes the only possible way to administer medicine to cats and kittens might be to hide it in treats or food. This is a good idea when it comes to kittens because of their eagerness to guzzle everything down. However, it’s important to check with your vet if your dewormer can be given this way as some drugs shouldn’t be mixed with certain types of food.
If the dewormer is administered this way, don’t put the tablet or capsule in the whole bowl of food. The kitten won’t be properly medicated if it doesn’t eat the tablet all at once. Consider placing the tablet in a chunk of cheese, inside a piece of sausage or anything else that the kitten will eat in one gulp.
My sister recently adopted a new kitten. As you know, there are few things as cute as a new little kitten. They’re soft and fluffy and have that unique kitten smell that makes you want to hold and hug them all day long… not when they have worms though!