Regular worming is an essential part of responsible pet ownership. Unless you are routinely using an effective dewormer your cat will almost certainly be infected by this parasite. Even if your cat is not showing any obvious signs of a worm infestation, it could be suffering health problems, such as weight loss, diarrhoea, vomiting, dull coat and lack of energy. Follow our recommendations to ensure your cat remains a happy and healthy one.
Profender™ spot-on wormer for cats
Profender is a broad spectrum wormer in a convenient spot-on formulation. It is applied directly onto the cat's skin at the back of the neck to prevent licking. After application, the solution is absorbed through the cat's skin and enters the bloodstream. It then travels to the intestine where the product acts on roundworms and tapeworms. The worms living in the gut are paralyzed, killed and passed out in the faeces.
Charity coordinator Rose Atkin says: “All the charity’s cats are treated with Profender on arrival, I find it is the most effective and reliable wormer for adult cats and kittens over 8 weeks old. As it is a spot-on you can be 100% certain the cat has been treated, which is not always the case with a tablet. For adult cats Drontal is another effective alternative if owners are confident giving tablets to their pet. There are many cheap pet shop and supermarket dewormers available, but most are not worth your money as they are simply ineffective.”
Profender dosage (weight dependent)
- 0.35ml pipette for small cats weighing 0.5-2.5kg
- 0.75ml pipette for medium cats weighing 2.5-5.0kg
- 1.12ml pipette for large cats weighing 5-8kg
As Profender is a prescription only drug your vet will advise the correct dosage for your cat’s weight on examination.
Adults every 3 months. Kittens over 8 weeks old, monthly until the age of 6 months, then every 3 months. For hunting adults frequency may need to be increased. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions or a vet.
Here are some more frequently asked questions with Rose’s answers:
1. My cat looks healthy, how do I know if it has worms?
If your cat goes outdoors and you are not currently using an effective dewormer, it is almost certain your cat will have worms. And unless pregnant females have been thoroughly treated for worms, the kittens will be infected from birth. In the early stages of infestation there may be so signs at all. Common symptoms in later stages are chronic diarrhoea, often blood stained, weight loss, vomiting, lethargy, a pot-belly, and increased/decreased appetite, depending on the type of worm. Cats pick up microscopic roundworm eggs and larvae on their paws and muzzle when outside, from contaminated soil and the faeces of other infested cats. The parasite is then ingested when the cat grooms itself. Hunting cats in particular have a high risk of recurring roundworm and tapeworm infestations as rodents/birds act as intermediate hosts.
2. I have wormed my cat, why do I need to keep repeating it?
Worming treatments do not persist in the body, which is why animals need to be treated at least every three months. Worm eggs and larvae are so common in the environment your cat is constantly vulnerable to re-infestation. Regular worming not only ensures the well-being of your pet but also reduces environmental contamination (with parasite eggs from your cat’s faeces.)
3. My cat is an indoor cat, do I still need to worm it?
There is far less risk with indoor cats, however, you could well be bringing microscopic worm eggs into the house on your shoes and clothing from contaminated soil or grass - after being in your garden, for example - so there is still a risk. The flea is also an intermediate host for the tapeworm, so flea prevention is essential to comprehensive worm control. Personally I would always use a dewormer as a preventative measure even with indoor cats.
4. Are there any ‘natural’ worming treatments you would recommend?
No. Many so-called natural treatments have not undergone any safety or efficacy testing. Never put any non-licensed substance on/in your cat; if you are unsure if a product is licensed always consult a vet. Cats have very different physiology to humans, and dogs, and substances harmless to us can quickly poison them.
5. Do I have to buy Profender from a vet?
Not necessarily, but Profender is a Prescription Only Medecine (POM-V). This means the cat must be first examined by a vet who is legally obliged to write out a prescription for the medicine if you request it. You will be charged a fee for doing this, and the cost varies with each practice. To buy Profender online you would usually need to post the prescription to the supplier. Depending on the prescription fee it may not make economic sense to try and buy elsewhere. If you do decide to buy online always choose a reputable supplier. The charity does not sell worming products.
6. Do I have to buy Drontal from a vet?
No, this does not require a prescription so you can buy this medicine online or in pet shops.
Overview of some commonly available worming products for cats:
*These products are NOT recommended as we believe there are safer and more effective alternatives
Worms: more facts
There are two different types of worms: roundworms & tapeworms. You will notice that many of these worms live in two animals or ‘hosts’; the adult stage and the larval stage are often in two different animal species.
Toxocara cati and Toxocara leonina: The adult worm lives in the cat’s intestines. The microscopic eggs pass via faeces into the environment where they can lie dormant for over a year. Here they are picked up directly by a cat or more commonly via an intermediate host that is usually a small rodent. When eaten directly by the cat during grooming, the worm larvae migrate from the intestines through the liver and lungs and back into the gut and can cause damage on the way. Once in the gut, the adults feed on the lining of the intestine. The larvae can also be passed from the mother to her suckling kittens via her milk – this is why pregnant queens should be correctly wormed. High worm burdens can cause pot bellies in kittens, poor growth and poor coat condition, and diarrhoea that if severe enough could lead to dehydration and death.
• Ingestion of the eggs by people causes the larvae to migrate in an unusual way through the organs, rarely, they can migrate through the eyes causing blindness.
Aelurostrongylus abstrusus: This is the lung worm of cats, which is rare. It has a complex life cycle. The eggs are eaten by slugs or snails, these in turn are eaten by birds or rodents that are then eaten by cats. Once ingested the larvae migrate from the gut to the lungs where they mature. They cause multiple nodules in the airways and the eggs are forced deep into the lungs where they hatch – to be coughed up into the environment. Symptoms seen are coughing and lung diseases.
Dipylidium caninum: Also known as the Flea Tapeworm, this is the most common tapeworm found in cats. Mobile segments, the size of a grain of rice, are often seen around the cat’s anus. These are just a section of the adult tapeworm and contain hundreds of eggs; the segment ‘crawls’ into the environment and splits to release the eggs. The eggs are eaten by fleas or lice which are then eaten by the cat during grooming. The adult worm lives in the cat’s intestines where it feeds from intestinal contents. Fleas must be controlled to prevent these worms.
Taenia taeniaeformis: This is the second most comon tapeworm found in cats. The eggs are eaten by rodents that are then eaten by the cat. Hunting cats are therefore at high risk of this parasite, and need to be dewormed more regularly than most.
Information on worming product actives: http://www.noah.co.uk/ National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)
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