Why you should check your cat for parasites - Dr. Marty Becker

Why you should check your cat for parasites

Tuesday, Jan 12th, 2016 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Even indoor cats can be susceptible to parasites! You can bring in eggs from mud on your shoes. That’s why it’s important to check for parasites year-round.

Q: I just read that cat owners should deworm their cats monthly instead of annually. Why is that? I never see worms in my cat’s poop, and he gets a fecal exam every year with a deworming if he needs it.

A: I know it sounds like a lot, but veterinary parasitologists now recommend year-round parasite prevention for good reason. A recently published study in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association found that more than half the cats examined had tapeworms that weren’t evident through a fecal flotation test (how your veterinarian checks for the presence of intestinal parasites). Many of the cats also had roundworms. In most of the cases, the cats did not have evidence of worms in their feces or on fecal flotation. That means a lot of cats are carrying intestinal parasite loads that haven’t been identified.

It’s not unusual for cats to have a negative fecal exam for tapeworms or for your indoor cat to be exposed to roundworm or hookworm eggs brought into your home through mud, dirt or soil on your shoes. If your cat hunts and eats crickets, beetles or rodents, he can ingest roundworm eggs or larvae that way.

Ask your veterinarian about a parasite prevention program that’s appropriate for your cat’s lifestyle and health, as well as the types of parasites common in your area. He or she can recommend a broad-spectrum monthly preventive that’s safe for cats and effective against intestinal parasites, fleas and heartworms, which are a risk to cats as well as dogs. If that’s not a good option for you, have your adult cat dewormed two to four times a year as a preventive measure. During their first year, kittens should be screened at least four times for intestinal parasites. Dog owners, the same information applies to your pets.

All this and more in last week’s Pet Connection!