Why protecting your kitten against parasites is so important
When we bring our tiny, fluffy kitten home for the first time we may be so enamoured with their mischief making that we don’t give much thought to the ‘boring’ stuff like prevention against parasites. However, parasites can quickly make our kittens unwell, so it is essential that we keep on top of them.
Most kittens are ready to leave mum at nine weeks of age. They will usually have received some parasite prevention before going to their forever home.
It is typically at the vet appointment for their first vaccine and health check that their next dose of de-wormer and flea preventative is given. Those clients who are part of our Healthy Pet Club will have this included in the package and these products will be provided monthly. It is fine for owners to give these products at home to their pet, following the vet’s directions, as long as they feel confident to do so. Our veterinary practice staff can give you advice and demonstrations if needed.
As parasites are so prevalent, it is common for a kitten to be infested with parasites if they have not been receiving regular preventative medications from birth. Not only can this negatively impact on the kitten’s welfare and general health but these parasites can be passed on to other pets in the home. Once established, they can be rather tricky to eradicate from the house.
Wiggly worms can set up camp in a kitten’s intestines. They absorb their nutrients. causing symptoms including diarrhoea, weight loss and a dull, lack-lustre coat. Severe infections can result in an anaemia (a low red blood cell count) and even a life-threatening intestinal obstruction. We don’t often see these worms but with heavy infestations they may be visible in a cat’s poo.
Though our kittens won’t be going outside or hunting, they can easily pick up worms from their mother’s milk and from fleas. De-wormers are available from our clinics in a variety of forms. These include spot-ons, tablets, pastes and liquids, so every kitty is catered for.
Tiny, wingless parasites that can jump incredibly high and move with surprising stealth. It’s not always easy to spot a flea. Some cats will groom the fleas off themselves, leaving only the flea dirt behind as evidence. Flea dirt is dark and gritty and, when crushed onto wet tissue paper, will turn a reddy-brown colour.
Fleas will usually cause a kitten to experience intense itchiness, meaning they will scratch and lick themselves more often. Sometimes, they damage their skin, leading to scabs and nasty infections. Though fleas cannot live on us, they may bite us and leave red, itchy marks. It’s especially important to use the right product to treat fleas in kittens. This is because using the wrong dose or treatment (such as one designed for dogs) can prove fatal.
While not as common as some of the other parasites mentioned, ticks can pose an issue for some. Not only do they cause local irritation where they attach to the skin but they can also transmit dangerous diseases such as Lyme Disease. If you do happen to spot a tick, click on this link to learn how to remove them safely >