Controlling Feline Parasites - dummies

By Gina Spadafori, Paul D. Pion

Cats pick up all kinds of parasites — both internal pests, such as worms, and external ones, such as fleas and ear mites. Your veterinarian may ask you to bring in a fresh stool sample to check for the presence of worms. If parasites are present, the veterinarian can prescribe medication to eliminate them.

Heartworms are something that only dog-owners had to worry about previously, but now preventive medication is out there for cats, too. What gives?

Cats are at risk for heartworm disease. The confusing news is that much controversy exists over whether the amount of attention given to this problem is good medicine or good marketing. The good news (driving the marketing) is that there is now effective medication that, given monthly, prevents heartworms from living inside a cat’s body.

Does your cat need heartworm prevention medication? Ask your veterinarian. Don’t be put off if your veterinarian seems unsure of the response. The answer is not clear to most at this time, because the tests for heartworm disease in cats are relatively new and veterinarians are not sure how much to trust the results. Therefore veterinarians are not sure just how much of a problem heartworm disease is in cats in most regions.

No one likes to give unnecessary medications. However, in this case, the cost of not erring on the side of giving medications may be high. Although heartworm infestation is rare in cats, it is also not easily treated. In most cases where heartworms are present in cats, veterinarians choose to not treat and simply let the disease take its course because the risks of treating are high.

In areas where heartworm disease is very common in dogs and is being seen in cats, you should probably give a monthly prevention.

Don’t bother with worming medications sold at pet supply stores; they may not treat the kind of parasites your cat has. You should have your veterinarian accurately diagnose and treat your cat than subject your pet to medication that doesn’t fix the problem. This sort of thing is false economy!