Fleas & Worms

When the flea circus recruits Kitty.

When spring and summer come around, most of us would rather picture our our cats basking in sunbeams, rather than scratching themselves to the tune of creepy circus music, otherwise known as…FLEEEEAAAAAASS. 

Fleas are a very common problem for cats and kittens – maybe because they believe Simba could do a mean tightrope walk or even trapeze. Their little circus comes to town during warm whether, although for the right Ragdoll recruit, they’re willing to make a pit stop year-round. Don’t let these beady-eyed clowns fool you – fleas can transmit parasitic, even infectious diseases to your cat, including tapeworms. Ewwww.

So, how do you know if your cat has unknowingly joined the flea circus? Some felines become irritable, scratch and have scabby lesions on the skin. Others show no visible signs of discomfort whatsoever. In small kittens – and we’re talking the cutest of the cute – a severe flea infestation may cause anaemia from the loss of blood. Poor kitty-kitty!

What to do: Check your cat or kitten weekly for fleas or flea ‘dirt’ (dark pepper-like specks, aka flea poo-poo). Do this by looking at Milo’s skin beneath the fur on his back, close to the tail. A flea comb is also a good way of spotting the little buggers with red plastic noses.

How to treat: If your cat or kitten has fleas, remember that a large part of the flea life cycle is off your pet, so your house and yard may be giving free accommodation to flea eggs and larvae (wearing red, curly-haired wigs). Pardon our French, but you can nail these little buggers using flea bombs or other household flea treatment products. Who’s laughing now? (Hi-five, Whiskers!)

What in cat’s name to do about worms.

The early cat catches the worm – errrr, close enough: All kittens are born with intestinal (gut) worms, and adult cats can easily pick them up wherever other felines have been. Or, if ol’ Matty’s being groomed and accidentally swallows one of his fleas following a tragic trapeze incident – you’ll probably find a tapeworm on the scene, shortly thereafter. Like fleas, there’s just no wiggling around worms in cats. So, it’s important to treat yours regularly, to prevent sickness or even worse, fatal intestinal blockage. Hissss.

How do you know if your kitten has worms? He’ll have a fat, round belly, and not from too many treats. His coat will also be thin, and he just won’t be scooting around or playing the piano on YouTube, like he normally does.

It’s best to give your kitten worm treatments at two, four, six, eight, 10 and 12 weeks of age. Although roundworms are the most common in kittens, you can also give him a broad-spectrum treatment, which also treats hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. Adult cats should be given this remedy every three months. Some new topical (or spot-on) treatments that treat both fleas and worms are available from vet clinics. They’re meant to be applied to the back of your cat’s neck, but your vet can give you the whole cat-n-caboodle.

Keeping the ‘bad’ worms from kiddies.

For many cats, children are the most fun to follow around, sharing everything from dandelions to sandboxes – and in small instances, worm larvae. This can happen if your kiddie is digging a moat for his sandcastle and accidentally eats a teeny roundworm larva, courtesy of your Persian’s poo-poo. Worst case scenario, the larva could burrow into the child’s gut or organs, get into the bloodstream or eye. That’s why it’s important to treat your kitty for worms as soon as possible.

Rest assured, this isn’t a common occurrence. And thankfully kids cannot catch worms from pets simply by petting or playing with them.

So, don’t stress, pet-lovers. As long as your little ones wash their hands after holding Sheba and before eating their sausage rolls, they’ll likely steer clear of the unwanted wigglies. Purrrr.