Other than when kittens, I've never had to treat my cats for worms. Annual tests have always been negative.
I'd like to pat myself on the back for that and say that good cleaning and hygiene practices have been responsible for that. It's probably more likely, however, that it's due to my being paranoid, and always keeping them protected.
How do I know if my cat has worms?
Obviously, if you see evidence of worms, that's a given. Click here for overview of the major types of worms in cats and how to identify them.
When is treatment done?
Treatment of cat worms is typically done during kittenhood, pregnancy
and soon after. Some also recommend that worming be performed every few
months for the life of your cat as a preventive measure.
Kittens are often born into less than ideal circumstances, so it makes sense to have them treated for worms. As I mentioned, however, I've never had to treat my adult cats.
A symptomless disease?
It's worth stating here that many cats will not show signs of initial or mild infestation and may appear healthy. This is why it's important to have a fecal sample analyzed every year by your vet. Your kitty could be sick and you wouldn't know it.
What should I expect if my cat is infected?
Treatment starts with a visit to your veterinarian and a diagnosis (bring a stool sample). If your cat is diagnosed with worms, then your vet will recommend a course of treatment.
This will include specific medications for specific types of worms. Multiple treatments at certain intervals are normally required.
Some medications will treat multiple types of worms, but your vet will know which ones work best based on your cat's medical history, type of infestation, and past results with other patients.
There are some over-the-counter remedies for cat parasites, but most experts will advise that these are not as effective. There are, however, some effective preventive measures for flea control, which is essential for preventing tape worm infestation.
Interestingly, food grade diatomaceous earth, which can be used around the house for non-toxic flea control, is sometimes taken internally to remove parasites.
Once you get the recommendations on a course of treatment and particular deworming medication, you can purchase that medication online, usually at a much lower cost.
If you keep your cat indoors, the likelihood of her getting a parasite of any kind is dramatically reduced. This is the best prevention.
For outdoor cats, however, worming may be a fact of life. You'll have to work with your veterinarian to determine what's best, but I think the fewer chemicals you expose your cat to, the better.
As I mentioned, as adults, my cats have never taken any preventive medication for cat worms. It's simply not necessary and they have never had parasites of any kind, not even fleas.