Praziquantel is a drug used to cure tapeworms across most species of animals, even humans. Tapeworms are a common problem for cat owners, who may find their cat infected with this common parasite after an infestation of fleas or after their feline has hunted an infected rodent. Until the early 2000s, praziquantel was available through veterinary prescription only. Now there are a variety of drugs approved by the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture for at-home use in the curing of these parasites. The recommended dosage depends on the formulation of the drug you purchase, as well as what other ingredients are present in the drug.
Drugs that contain only praziquantel include Droncit Feline Cestocide, manufactured by Bayer Health, as well as Tradewinds brand Tape Worm Tablets. Tradewinds Tape Worm Tablets are available over-the-counter, while Droncit is available through a veterinarian only.
Both Droncit and Tradewinds come in tablet form that can be administered directly to the cat, or crumbled into a serving of wet cat food. Each of these tablets is 23 mg in strength. Cats 4 lbs. and under should receive 11.5 mg, or half a tablet. Cats weighing 5 to 11 lbs. should receive 23 mg, or one whole tablet, and cats weighing over 11 lbs. should be administered 34.5 mg, or one-and-a-half tablets.
These drugs are not indicated for use in kittens under 6 weeks of age. A veterinarian should be consulted before administering this medication to a pregnant, nursing, ill or immune-compromised cat.
Broad Spectrum De-Wormers
Drontal, an over-the-counter broad-spectrum de-wormer contains the active ingredient pyrantel pamoate in addition to praziquantel. Drontal comes in tablets that contain 18.2 mg praziquantel and 72.6 mg pyrantel pamoate. Because it contains an additional drug that treats hookworms and large roundworms, the dosage of Drontal is different from that of Droncit and Tradewinds.
Drontal is not indicated for use in kittens less than 1 month of age, or weighing less than 1.5 lbs. It is recommended that a veterinarian be consulted before administering this drug to pregnant, nursing or otherwise ill animals.
According to the manufacturer, cats weighing 1.5 to 1.9 lbs. should receive one-quarter of a tablet. Cats between 2 and 3 lbs. should receive one-half of a tablet. Felines between 4 and 8 lbs. should receive one tablet. From 9 to 11 lbs., a cat should be administered 1 1/2 tablets, and cats 13 to 16 lbs. should receive 2 tablets.
Diarrhea and excessive salivation were the most common side effects when praziquantel-only drugs were administered properly to felines.
In broad-spectrum de-wormers, the only reported side effect was transient ataxia, meaning confusion that comes and goes.
As with any medication, more serious adverse reactions may occur. If symptoms are severe or persist, consult a veterinary professional.
Because tapeworms may re-infest a cat at any point due to a flea control problem, an improperly cleaned environment after the initial infestation, or the consumption of an infected animal, the efficacy of tablets, while tested, is unclear. Re-treatment is often necessary if the factors that lead to the initial infestation are not controlled.
If symptoms persist after at-home treatment, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended. The veterinarian can determine if an underlying problem is causing the medication to be inefficient, and may pursue a course of praziquantel via injection.