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Worms are one of the most common internal parasitic infections in cats. To get rid of them, you will need to deworm your cat. Because worms can easily be passed to other animals, it is important to keep your infected cat away from other animals and people in your home while the deworming medication works.
But, how long after deworming a cat are the worms gone? This is an important question that all cat owners need to know the answer to. You need to know when the treatment will make the parasites disappear completely so they won’t come back and cause more trouble.
In most cases, all deworming medication will have worked within three days. However, severe infections may take a little longer to clear.
In this article, I answer this question and other queries you may have on deworming medication. How do dewormers work? How long will deworming side effects last? Can a cat overdose on dewormer? Keep reading to find all these answers and more so you know all there is to know about nursing your cat back to health following a worm infestation.
What Are Intestinal Worms?
Intestinal worms are a type of parasite that commonly infect cats. Indeed, most cats will suffer from a worm infection at some point in their life. These parasites live inside your cat’s intestines and cause them to fall sick. If left untreated, they can become fatal in worst-case scenarios.
There are three main types of intestinal worms that commonly infect cats. These are:
- Tapeworms: Tapeworms are segmented worms that are most commonly passed to a cat through the ingestion of infected fleas. These worms anchor themselves to the wall of the intestine and grow and grow, getting larger and larger. Segments containing eggs break off as the tapeworms grow ready to infect another animal.
- Roundworms: Roundworms are more alike to regular garden worms but much thinner in diameter. These parasites don’t attach to the wall of your cat’s intestine. Instead, they are free moving and swim around the gut. Roundworms are common in kittens as they can be contracted when nursing, but can also be picked up by ingesting other infected animals such as rodents and birds.
- Hookworms: Hookworms attach to the lining of the intestine just as tapeworms do and feed on your cat’s blood. However, unlike tapeworms, these parasites are tiny and you can hardly see them with the naked eye. They release eggs that are passed out in your cat’s stools ready to infect the next animal.
What Are The Symptoms of Worms?
You will usually know whether your cat has contracted a worm infection based on the clinical signs they show. Intestinal worm infections mostly cause gastrointestinal symptoms in cats, such as:
- Diarrhea and loose stools as the worms upset usual digestive function
- An increase in appetite to compensate for the nutrients the worms are taking
- Unexplained weight loss as your cat is not getting the nutrients it needs
- An itchy bottom, usually shown by cats scooting across the floor
- Bloating of the abdominal area which is more common in infected kittens
How Long Do Dewormers Take to Work on Cats?
Now down to the important part: How long after deworming a cat are the worms gone? This is crucial information as you need to know when these parasites have left the body. This can ensure you keep your cat quarantined and keep on top of cleaning until they are gone, helping to prevent reinfection and stop other animals in your home from contracting this parasite.
In most cases, cats will be worm-free three days after you have administered their dewormer medication if they are not reinfected after this point. However, this does depend on the severity of the infection. For severe infections with a large number of adult parasites, it can take up to nine days for the worms to go completely.
Other factors that also affect how quickly and effectively the dewormers are at eliminating the parasites from the body include:
- The specific types of worms your cat is infected with
- The exact treatment offered to your cat and its appropriateness for treating the specific type of worms your cat is infected with
- The number of worms currently present inside your cat’s intestines
- Whether the worms have developed any resistance to the dewormer medication chosen
Many people will find the actual time after deworming that worms are gone is much longer than three to nine days. This is usually not due to the deworming medication not working, but rather because of reinfection. Worms can easily be picked up again by your cat if you’re not careful!
For example, if there are any worm eggs are in your home that your cat can ingest they can become reinfected. Likewise, if any other cats or animals in your home have already contracted worms they could infect your cat again. Therefore, it can take a little while for the worms to completely die off.
For this reason, some vets may recommend that you administer a second round of deworming medication two weeks after the first to ensure all of the worms are eliminated. This should give the worms enough time to reinfect your cat if they were to do so. However, they won’t have multiplied and caused a severe infestation by this point.
How Do Deworming Medications Work?
To better understand how long it takes for dewormers to work on cats, it’s helpful to know how dewormer medication works in the first place. Deworming medications are antiparasitic agents that work by killing worms. They do this in a few ways depending on the specific medication used, for example:
- Starvation: Deworming medications such as albendazole, mebendazole, and thiabendazole absorb sugars in the gut that worms need to live off of. Without access to the sugar, the worms die and pass out via the stools. This is effective for the treatment of free-moving roundworms.
- Paralysis: Praziquantel and ivermectin work instead by paralyzing the worms so that they can no longer hold onto the intestinal wall. They therefore before dislodged and pass through your cat’s gut before being eliminated in the feces. This treatment is more effective for treating hookworms and tapeworms.
With this in mind, many owners ask themselves “Do cats poop out worms after being dewormed?”. The answer is yes! However, you won’t usually see any worms in their stools unless your cat has a very large number inside their intestines to start with. Therefore, don’t panic if you don’t see any – the treatment is likely working.
However, the thing to bear in mind is that worm eggs are not affected by deworming treatments, meaning they can still exist in your cat’s stools. This explains why worm reinfection rates can be pretty high. Good hygiene is important in preventing reinfection and removing these worm eggs before they cause reinfection.
What Are the Side Effects of Dewormers?
It is uncommon for dewormer medications to cause any side effects in cats. However, your cat may show some digestive symptoms as the worms are eliminated from their intestines. Examples include:
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Drooling or excessive salivation
İf your cat does suffer from any of these side effects they will usually present themselves within 24 hours. Usually, senior cats or those with poor health are more prone to experience these. Kittens are also known to experience bad bouts of sickness and diarrhea following deworming treatment. You might also notice your kitten has a bloated belly after deworming.
These are not nice symptoms for your cat to experience. Besides, it means you’ll have a lot of cleaning up to do after your cat. This leaves many owners asking questions such as “How long will a cat have diarrhea after deworming” and “How long does deworming side effects last?”.
In most instances, any side effects that your cat is experiencing should seize within a couple of days. However, if the symptoms persist, there is a chance that the treatment has not been successful or that your cat has become reinfected with worms. Diarrhea and a bloated abdomen are symptoms of worms themselves! As such, your cat might need another dose of deworming medication to get rid of the infection.
Does My Cat Still Have Worms After Deworming?
Worms can be difficult to eliminate from your cat for good. Severe infections with many parasites living inside your cat’s intestines can take several rounds of treatment for them to be wiped out completely. Moreover, with reinfection happening frequently, your cat can contact worms again before they have fully recovered.
If your cat still has worms after deworming, there are a few signs that you can look for that indicate your cat is still sick. These include the following symptoms that persist after the worming treatment should have worked:
- Continued vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite even after the treatment has worn off
- Lethargy and general weakness
- Sudden collapse after the treatment has finished
- Bloated abdominal area, especially in kittens
- A dull and unkempt coat
If you see any of the above symptoms after the treatment has ended and you have given it a few days to work, speak to your vet. It sounds like your cat still has worms. Your veterinarian may recommend a second dose of the same treatment to kill the remaining parasites. Alternatively, they might suggest a different or stronger treatment than you used initially.
However, don’t double dose too quickly. It is possible to overdose on deworming medication which can cause clinical signs such as ataxia, mydriasis, and vomiting. Extremely high doses can even lead to blindness, seizures, respiratory failure, and coma. For this reason, it is always important to, speak to your vet for advice on what to do next.
How Do I Stop Worm Reinfections?
One of the major challenges of worms is not the treatment – dewormer medication is usually pretty effective. Instead, worms are such a nuisance is because reinfection is common. Therefore, you want to do everything in your power to stop this from happening!
As I have already mentioned, worms are contracted when your cat eats worm eggs or larvae. These are found in the feces of infected cats. As worm eggs are not destroyed by deworming medication, your cat can easily ingest the eggs by grooming themselves after going to the bathroom. Worms can also be contracted by a cat eating fleas.
With this in mind, the best way to minimize the risk of worm reinfections are as follows.
1. Good Hygiene & Home Cleanliness
While your cat has worms and is eliminating them from its body, it is super important that you keep your house clean to remove any eggs before they accidentally get ingested. If you’re thinking “My cat has worms! How do I clean my house?” don’t stress! Here are a few ways you can help remove as many of those pesky worm eggs and larvae as possible:
- Clean Litter Boxes Daily: The major risk of reinfection is from worm eggs in your cat’s feces. Therefore, you need to clean your cat’s litter box every day while they have worms and ensure you wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
- Clean Up Accidents Immediately: As diarrhea is a common symptom of both worms and deworming medication, it is likely that your cat will have bathroom accidents when infected. Ensure you clean these up promptly too to remove those eggs as quickly as possible!
- Clean All Other Surfaces Regularly: If your cat accidentally gets worm eggs caught on its coat or paws, they can be tracked around your home. They can then survive for a few days on these surfaces. Therefore, ensure you wipe hard surfaces, clean your carpets, and wash soft furnishings to remove all traces.
Another question owners commonly have is “Should I quarantine my cat with tapeworms?”. The answer is yes! This can help to contain any worm eggs to a designated area in your home. Not only does this make cleaning easier and thus reinfection less likely, but also means then chances of other people or animals catching worms are reduced.
2. Flea Treatment & Prevention
Fleas are a common transmitter of worms. As such, keeping these parasites under control and out of your home goes a long way in preventing worms from infecting your pets. There are a few things you can do to help treat and prevent fleas:
- Flea Treatment: If your cat has fleas, you need to ensure you treat these alongside deworming your cat. You should also apply flea preventative medication to help reduce the risk of your cats contracting fleas again in the future. There is also the option for flea collars and other preventative methods you can speak to your vet about.
- Regular Grooming: Cats are excellent at self-grooming, spending hours every day using their rough tongues to remove any dirt from their coats. However, all cats will benefit from regular brushing. You can use a flea comb once per week to help remove any fleas before infections become out of hand.
- Keep Your Cat Indoors: Keeping your cat indoors greatly reduces the chance of your cat being exposed to fleas. Moreover, they are also less exposed to cats with worms and fecal matter infected with worm eggs. Therefore, keeping your cat indoors can help to prevent infection of both fleas and worms.
Can I Use Dewormers As Preventative Treatment?
Dewormers are effective in treating parasitic worm infections. However, they can also be used as a preventative measure. This is recommended by vets to ensure that any worm infections are treated and eliminated before causing any real issues or symptoms.
How often you should deworm your cat depends on their age and the type of worms you are trying to prevent. You can use the below as a rough guideline, or speak to your vet for more advice:
- Roundworm Prevention: Roundworms are extremely common in kittens as they can be passed on via an infected mother’s milk. Therefore, kittens should be dewormed as a preventative method every two weeks from the age of three weeks to eight weeks. After this, you can drop the frequency to once every month until your kitten is six months old. Adult cats age six months and older only need to be dewormed for roundworms once every 1-3 months.
- Tapeworm Prevention: Kittens don’t usually have tapeworm infections and don’t need to be dewormed for tapeworms at all. However, adults over the age of six months old will need to be dewormed once every 1-3 months. Therefore, it is recommended to deworm adult cats with a treatment that is effective against both roundworms and tapeworms.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
So, how long after deworming a cat are worms gone? In most cases, all deworming medication will have worked within three days. However, severe infections may take a little longer to clear. Additionally, worm reinfections are common as dewormers only kill adult worms, not their eggs.
Follow the above tips on how to prevent reinfection and you should find this helps. If you think your cat does still have worms after treatment, speak to your vet for advice on what to do next. They may recommend a second dose or a different medication.