As a pet owner, it’s your job to look after your animal’s health and welfare, and that means helping protect them from fleas, ticks and worms. Kittens are susceptible to these parasites, so you’ll need to get on top of preventative treatments the moment you bring them home.
Fleas, ticks and worms are common in kittens. The potential dangers range from discomfort in the form of itching and inflamed skin, to major health issues.
What are the signs your kitten might be affected?
Here’s an outline of these parasites and their symptoms.
- Heartworm – is spread by mosquitos. While not as common in cats as dogs, kittens still need regular preventative treatment. Once infected, there is no treatment. Symptoms may include coughing, vomiting, reduced appetite, and weight loss.
- Roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm – These parasites live in the intestinal tract. If infected, your kitten may lose their appetite or experience vomiting and diarrhoea. Seeing your kitten dragging their bottom across the ground is another tell-tale sign. If your kitten is eating, but is thin or has a distended belly, it might be time to visit the vet. Worms can also spread from animal to human, which is another incentive to keep up those regular preventative treatments.
- Fleas – these latch onto skin or dig deep into hair, and they can be very hard to get rid of. If you notice your kitten scratching, check for small brown insects which are around 2mm long. You may be able to see fleas on your kitten, dark flecks ("flea dirt”) or you might just notice red and inflamed skin. If you do find fleas, you’ll need to treat your kitten and wash their bedding and other fabrics they’ve been in in contact with.
- Ticks – ticks feed on blood and carry diseases. While preventative treatments will help keep them at bay, you should also check for ticks regularly, particularly if your kitten has been outdoors. If you do find a tick, pull it off. If your kitten shows signs of tick paralysis, such as weakness, loss of muscle movement and unsteadiness, take them to the vet.
Fleas, ticks & worms: kitten treatments
The old saying that prevention is better than cure applies to kittens and parasites.
Preventative treatments for worms take the form of a tablet, or liquid that is applied to a spot on the skin, usually behind the neck. Kittens can be treated for some worms from four weeks of age. Heartworm treatments usually start at 12 weeks.
Flea prevention solutions range from spot treatments to shampoos, sprays, collars and powders. Combined treatments for fleas and ticks are available.
It's also important to use treatments that are formulated specifically for felines - dog treatments can be toxic.
Regular parasite treatments are part of keeping your kitten healthy. If you’re bringing home a new kitten, it’s always a good idea to have a vet check early on. Your vet will be able to give you information on what parasites to protect against and how often preventative treatments need to be applied.