Treatment of Worms, Fleas, and Parasites

Internal Parasites
The American Society of Veterinary Parasitologists states that greater than 90% of kittens are born with worms. While a queen (a female cat) is pregnant, the larvae (The immature stage of the worm) migrates to the queen’s breasts. When the kitten nurses from the queen, larvae are acquired in the milk. This is the most common way that kittens acquire worms.
The American Society of Veterinary Parasitologists recommends that all kittens be dewormed four times at two week intervals. This is a simple and highly effective method of ridding your cat of the most common type of worms in NY, hookworms and roundworms. You administer a liquid or tablets to your cat. The medication is very safe and very effective.

Tapeworms are another common form of worm that affects cats. Tapeworms are acquired when cats ingest infected fleas. The flea hosts the immature stage of the tapeworm. Upon ingesting the flea, the immature stage of the tapeworm grows and develops into a tapeworm in the cat’s intestine. Treatment for tapeworms should be commenced only after the cat has been checked and found to be flea free. The medication (a tablet) is very safe and effective. Two doses are given two to three weeks apart.

Other common internal parasites are Coccidia and Giardia. These one celled microscopic animals are most commonly detected by fecal examination. Recently immunologic tests have helped us in diagnosing Giardia infections. Treatment for these one celled animals involves giving medications daily for one to two weeks. Stool samples should be checked after finishing the medication to insure that the therapy was effective.

External Parasites
Fleas are the most common external parasite of cats. Nowadays flea treatment has become very simple, very safe and very effective with the advent of “spot on” medications. Spot on medications are liquids which require the owner to apply a few drops of the medication to the back of the cat’s neck (a location that cats can’t reach to remove the medication). This treatment is repeated monthly for two to four times depending on the severity of the infection. For outdoor cats, spot on medication can be used as a preventive for fleas. These spot on medications are used monthly beginning in the spring and continuing until the time of the first frost (which kills fleas outdoors).

Ticks are much less common than fleas in cats. In Queens nearly all of the cases of ticks that we diagnose are in cats vacationing outside of NYC. Most often we see ticks in cats that have traveled to upstate NY or to Connecticut or Eastern Long Island. Treatment for ticks is manual removal if the ticks and prevention with spot on medication. Not all spot ons are effective against ticks. Please check labels before using. Our favorite spot on for ticks is Front-Line.

The last parasite to be discussed is probably one of the most common ones, ear mites. Ear mites are transmitted by contact with other cats (and dogs and rabbits). So if your cat is diagnosed with ear mites please be certain to have your other cats checked to insure that they are not also infected.

Therapy for ear mites is simple, safe and highly effective. Topical medications are most commonly used in treating ear mites. However some cats are difficult to treat with topical medications. In these cases injections of parasiticide (medication that kills parasites) are highly effective. Depending on the seriousness of the infection, two to three injections, two to three weeks apart nearly always gets rid of the ear mites.

Lastly, another way of treating ear mites is spot on medications. Our favorite spot on medication for ear mites is Revolution. Revolution is used usually once a month for two months to resolve ear mite infections.