How To Deworm A Cat At Home (Effective Solutions)
Is it possible to deworm your cat at home? Deworming your cat at home can save you money on a vet visit and over the counter medicines can often be purchased online at a fraction of the cost of treatment at your local vets.
Most antihelmintic (deworming) medication is available without a vets prescription, but not all medicine treats all worms. If you suspect your animal already has worms then you should initially consult your vet for a quick test to determine which parasite your cat has before continuing with this tutorial.
Many vets include deworming with their regular health check plans so It is also worth checking out what is available in your area before deciding to medicate your cat at home, and always carefully read the label on any medication and weigh your cat first to ensure dosages are calculated correctly.
What Do I Need?
You do not need to be an expert, or have veterinary training to deworm your cat at home. You will need some or all of the following, depending on what kind of medicine you are administering:
- Specific dewormer prescribed or recommended by your vet OR general dewormer which will be given as a prophylactic
- Your cats favourite wet food and treats
- Bathroom towel for restraint
- Pull pusher for cats
- Insulin syringe with needle (18-24g work best)
- Your cat!
When you have everything you need, pick a time of day that your cat is usually at his most relaxed and enlist the help of a friend or family member where possible.
How To Administer Medication To My Cat?
Depending on the relationship you have with your cat, the type of worms you suspect your cat may have (or prophylaxis specific to high risk parasites in your area) and your cats general temperament you have several treatment options available.
First you should weigh your cat and calculate the dosage needed. Most dewormers have a high margin of error, meaning your cat can tolerate sometimes up-to 10 x the therapeutic dose, but you should try to calculate the dose as close as accurately as possible. Always round doses UP if necessary, as under dosing can cause parasites to become drug resistant.
Video: How to weigh your cat at home accurately?
Most dewormers come in a tablet form, and we have several tips to make it easy and painless to deworm your cat with tablets.
- Hide/crush the tablet into food
Pro tip: Use the smallest amount of food possible, and give this separately from any other food to ensure your cat gets the full dose. Squeezy cheese and liver pate work best!
- Administer directly to the cats throat
You can do this either with or without the aid of a pill pusher. Hold your cat securely against your chest, and use light pressure on either side of the canine teeth to open the cats mouth. Push the deworming tablet to the back left hand side of the cats throat and then immediately offer your cats favourite treat. He should swallow the tablet fully when chewing on his treat!
Some dewormers come in liquid form and can be administered either orally or on food. This is the most preferable form of treatment for young kittens and old or debilitated animals.
- Mixed with food
Liquid dewormer is usually relatively tasteless, so can be mixed with a small portion of your cats normal wet food. Use only a small portion and mix very well to ensure your cat gets a full dose.
Drenching is where you fill the cheeks of an animal with a medication, triggering the animals swallowing reflex. This has limited success in cats who tend to shake their heads from side to side to expel the liquid when released from restraint so is best used with worming liquids and pastes which are pleasantly flavoured.
Pro tip: Be very careful with this technique in young kittens, as they can easily choke on the liquid, allowing the liquid to enter the lungs and causing the kitten to develop aspiration pneumonia, a potentially fatal condition.
Crystals are made to be mixed in with your cats food. They can often taint the taste of the food and cats can become wise to it, so the key is to use foods with strong smells and tastes. Wet cat food works well, as does tinned fish. You should ensure that the crystals are mixed in thoroughly before giving them to your cat to ensure he gets the full dose.
Pro tip: Deworming treatment in crystal form often requires repeat dosing over several days so ensure you have enough of your cats favourite food before starting the course.
Arguably the easiest of the treatments to administer, but often the most expensive and difficult to source without prescription, is the small selection of spot-on dewormers.
First, carefully open the applicator and hold in your right hand. With your left hand, separate the fur on your cats neck and apply the spot-on directly to the skin in a sweeping motion down the spine. Spot on needs to be applied in a straight line down the spine, starting at the back of your cats neck, and finishing between his shoulder blades.
Pro tip: Try not to let cats play together until the spot-on has dried. They may groom each other and some spot-on treatments can be toxic if ingested.
Some dewormers, such as ivermectin, are very effective in cats despite being “off label”. While injecting your cat at home is not for the faint hearted, it is very simple and painless to do.
Using an insulin syringe, fill the syringe to the desired dose, flick the syringe several times while upright to remove any air then re-cap the syringe. Deworming injections are done subcutaneous - just underneath the skin, so the best placement on your pet cat is the scruff of his neck, where there is lots of excess skin and is out of the way of teeth and claws!
With your cat restrained, pinch 1 - 2 inches of neck scruff in between your first three fingers, creating a ‘pyramid’ of skin between your fingers. Uncap the syringe and apply gentle pressure to the syringe into the center of the pyramid of skin to about 1 - 2cm deep, you should only feel resistance as the syringe breaks the outer layer of skin. Push the syringe plunger to administer the medicine under the skin, and carefully pull the needle out in one gentle motion.
Pro tip: Enlist the help of a friend and use the bath towel to wrap your cat up safely into a “kitty burrito”. This should minimize any scratches from your cat!
The Importance of Regularly Deworming Your Cat
Cats need to be dewormed regularly, usually every 3 months and more frequently as kittens and when positively diagnosed as carrying worms or other parasites. Many parasites that can effect your cat are zoonotic, meaning they can also spread to humans. With pregnant women and children the most at risk of permanent damage from these parasites, deworming your cat will keep not just your pet healthy, but your family too.
How did you find this tutorial? Did you try any of the techniques mentioned? We would love to hear how you got on - leave us a comment or send us feedback to let us know!