Parasitic worms are a common problem for cats, especially outdoor cats and kittens. The most common types are roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms. Roundworms are passed from a mother cat to her kittens, while tapeworms come from fleas. Cats can be infected with worms through exposure to contaminated feces and prey animals. If you suspect your cat has worms, it is important to get rid of them as soon as possible. Worms can seriously damage your pet's health and weaken its immune system, possibly resulting in the death of your cat. Here's how to get rid of your cat's worms.
Watch for symptoms of worms. Symptoms to watch for include: asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing, coughing or difficulty breathing, frequent vomiting, gagging or diarrhea, and a scruffy pot-bellied appearance. Sometimes you will be able to see the worms in the cat's feces or vomit---they will look like small, white strands of spaghetti or grains of rice.
Visit your veterinarian. A veterinarian can diagnose the type of worm or worms your cat is infected with. This usually involves studying a stool sample under a microscope. The veterinarian will prescribe the correct medicine and dosage for your particular pet. It's not a good idea to skip this step and treat your cat with an over-the counter remedy---some cats have bad reactions to these medicines, or they may prove to be ineffective.
Give the medicine. Give the prescribed dewormer as directed. Don't skip any doses. Worm medicine must be given at specifically targeted times, in order to kill all the worms and all their eggs. To give your cat a pill, tilt his head back and insert the pill as far back in his throat as possible, and squirt a small amount of water in his mouth to help him swallow the pill. Stroke the outside of the cat's throat to encourage swallowing.
Get rid of fleas. Since fleas can infect a cat with worms, it is important to use a flea control medication as well. Consult your vet for advice on the best type for your cat. If your home is infested with fleas, take measures to eradicate them with one of the many flea killing products on the market, or call an exterminator.
Prevent reinfestation. Replace the cat's litter box, and wash her bedding. Thoroughly vacuum the furniture and the entire house. Limit your cat's exposure to outside sources of infection, like mice, birds, dirt and plants. If you have other cats in the household, they may need treatment as well.