The length of time you need to keep cats separated after deworming depends on the type of worm your cat has and the medication given to the cat for treatment. You must keep your cats separated until the affected cat is entirely free from any type of parasite.
While some medications can get rid of worms in as little as 24 hours, some treatments need three to four weeks to completely clear up the infection.
If you have multiple cats with one or both of them being treated for worms, and you are wondering how long you need to keep them separated, keep on reading.
How do cats contract worms?
Let us get some background by discussing how cats get worms in the first place. The most common ways a cat contracts worms is through drinking contaminated milk from the mother cat while nursing, or by touching, sniffing, eating, or licking contaminated soil. Other ways of contracting are eating infected prey like rodents, birds, and reptiles, as well as insect bites from mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. Coming into contact with an infected cat or animal can also transfer a worm infection (this includes coming into contact with an infected animal’s vomit or feces).
It is important to immediately address the condition if you suspect your cat has worms, as it can cause severe medical issues and health conditions if left untreated. Talking with your vet about preventative measures is vital. This will help you spot the symptoms of worms in cats.
Types of Cat Worms
These are some of the most common intestinal parasites in cats.
The heartworm can live in a cat’s heart and pulmonary arteries. This infection is transmitted by mosquitoes. The worms will migrate throughout the body for six months before finally settling in the cat’s circulatory system. A cat can only contract heartworm through an infected mosquito bite, and these cannot be passed from cat to cat. It is a preventable disease and is easily treatable, but it can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated in time.
Whipworms in cats are a quarter of an inch long and reside in the cat’s large intestines. They can cause severe damage to these organs and are considered one of the most harmful cat worms.
These worms are the smallest of all the common cat worms. They reside in the small intestine. They grow to about an inch in length and feed on the cat’s blood. Because of this, they can cause anemia in cats of all ages, but are especially dangerous in kittens. Hookworms can live in a cat’s feces which can then infect other cats and even people.
Tapeworms in cats have long and flat segmented bodies that can grow to eight inches in length. Tapeworms occur when a cat ingests a host animal or flea that is carrying the worm.
This is the most common of the cat worms. They can grow up to three to five inches long. They resemble wet spaghetti. These worms can be transmitted from a mother cat to its kittens through nursing, as well as through contact with an infected animal’s feces.
What are the signs and symptoms of cat worms?
Cat owners need to be aware of the signs to look for that indicate a worm infection. The most common signs and symptoms are:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Distended abdomen or pot belly
- Weakness or lethargy
- Chronic cough
- Hair loss with skin inflammation
- Dragging their butt on the ground
- Worms hanging around the anus
- Worms in the cat’s stool
Even if some of the symptoms are not indicative of worms, they can still be symptoms of other illnesses which need a veterinarian’s intervention. So take your cat to the vet as soon as you can.
Do I need to keep my cats separated after deworming?
Yes, it is important to keep your cats separated after deworming because parasites can still be transmitted between cats, even with ongoing treatment. Some medications need days or even weeks to completely clear out the parasite from the cat’s system. Even if your cats are getting treatment, there is still a chance that they can infect your healthy cats. It is advisable to keep them separated depending on your vet’s orders.
How long do I have to keep my cats apart after deworming?
As mentioned above, it is extremely important to keep your infected cat away from your healthy cat even if it is taking medication. This is because the time for the parasite to clear up from the infected cat’s system is dependent on the type of worm and the effectiveness of the treatment.
Some treatments can remove the parasites within 24 hours, but there are others that will need weeks to clear up. Be sure you read the instructions on your cat’s deworming medication. Also be sure to consult your vet regarding the most appropriate treatment, as some cats may be allergic to components of different medications.
What is a cat’s deworming schedule?
Kittens and their mother are the most susceptible to intestinal parasitic infections, and are the most likely to carry the worms and produce the larvae. These cats will require a more intensive deworming schedule compared to an adult cat.
The recommended deworming schedule for kittens begins at six weeks of age, with repeat deworming at eight, ten, and twelve weeks of age. Nursing mothers should also be treated at the same time. Kittens should then continue getting dewormed every month until they are six months old.
Adult cats must get monthly deworming in combination with their flea and heartworm prevention during the summer months, as well as an annual fecal examination.
It is recommended to get your outdoor cats dewormed once or twice a year for tapeworms.
Does deworming medication have side effects?
Deworming medications are mostly safe and rarely have any side effects when following the recommended dosage. The most common side effects are vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and hair loss on the site of the application of a topical medication. If the side effects are worrying you, you can always take your cat to the vet to be seen.
The time you need to keep your cats separate while one is getting dewormed is dependent on the type of worm and the treatment given by your vet.
Keeping your healthy cats away from your infected cat is important because despite being on treatment, your infected cat can still pass the infection on to your healthy cats. While some types of worms can be dealt with in a day or two, other types of worms need up to three or four weeks of treatment to be completely eradicated.
Image: istockphoto.com / MilenaKatzer