Deworming your cat is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Intestinal parasites can wreak havoc on your cat’s overall health, making it so important to use a dewormer that follows through on the job. Though we know our veterinarian can provide prescription-strength dewormers for our feline friends, many have begun to wonder if there are any natural alternatives to ban these critters from our cat’s life. Is there a natural dewormer for cats?
In this article, we’ll tackle the topic of natural dewormers in cats, and discuss the most efficient ways to keep your cat worm free!
Natural Deworming Solutions for Cats
What is a dewormer?
So what is a cat dewormer, anyway? Simply put, a dewormer is a substance that kills intestinal parasites within your cat’s intestinal tract once it’s ingested. These medications are also called anthelmintics, which are any type of medication that tackles and expels worms from the body, human or animal.
Cat dewormers work in many different ways depending on which type of intestinal parasite your cat has. When your cat has tapeworms, the medication will cure the infection by breaking apart the tapeworm eggs in the intestinal tract until they are no longer active. When your cat has roundworms, the medication essentially paralyzes the roundworms, causing them to let go of the intestinal lining and be flushed out with their stool.
There are different types of dewormers for different parasitic infections, all of which have the goal of curing your feline friend of these pesky parasites.
Common Intestinal Parasites In Cats
When people discuss intestinal parasites in cats, there are a few different parasites that they can be referring to. The most common parasites in cats include:
Tapeworms: An intestinal parasite that your cat can acquire after having fleas, or ingesting a flea that is a vector for tapeworms. This is one of the many reasons that flea prevention is so important.
Roundworms: Roundworms are extremely common in cats, as they are often transferred through the nursing process. Kittens often acquire the infection by nursing on their infected mother, or by being in close contact with infected feces.
Coccidia: Coccidia is a bit different than the other parasites on this list due to the fact that it’s a protozoan that inhabits the intestinal lining rather than an actual worm. Though they are not considered worms, they can wreak just as much havoc on your feline friend. Coccidia is a major threat to your cat or kitten due to serious diarrhea it causes, and how common it is in shelter or rescue situations.
Hookworms: Hookworms are another common intestinal parasite in cats. With feeding on blood in the intestinal lining of your furry friend, they can bring along life-threatening anemia with their presence. Hookworms are an extremely common cause of anemia in kittens and adult cats.
Whipworms: Though not as common as the other parasites on this list, whipworms can still cause your feline friend great discomfort. Whipworms like to spend their time in your cat’s colon and bring great damage to the organs they inhabit. Though this worm is not as common, it is considered one of the most dangerous.
Giardia: Giardia is another protozoan that can cause serious diarrhea in our feline companions. Giardia can be acquired through the ingestion of contaminated water or dirt and is common in shelter situations or areas with congested cat populations.
Symptoms of Worms in Cats
Now that you are aware of the most common intestinal worms in cats, it’s important to also understand the symptoms they can cause with their presence. Symptoms of intestinal parasites in cats include:
- Change in appetite
- Weight loss
- Distended abdomen or “potbelly appearance”
- Visible presence of worms in their stool
- Scotting their butts
Do Natural Dewormers Work in Cats?
Before we get into the discussion of natural deworming options in cats, it’s important to understand how natural dewormers work. These natural options simply create an environment within the body that a worm does not often thrive in, making it a hostile environment for a worm to inhabit. Natural dewormers cannot cure an existing parasite infection, but rather act as a prevention for future parasites that they are exposed to.
So now that we have a clear understanding of natural dewormers creating an undesirable environment for parasites rather than actually curing them, let’s dive into some of the most discussed natural deworming options.
If your cat has an active intestinal parasite, then a natural dewormer is not an effective approach. We always recommend discussing any natural deworming options with your vet before offering them to your cat and keeping up with their recommended fecal at each exam.
Coconut Oil for Deworming Cats
Coconut oil has many incredible abilities when it comes to maintaining our pet’s health. The ingestion of coconut oil causes our cat’s bodies to convert lauric acid to monolaurin, which is said to be a natural deworming agent. Though many studies claim that ingesting coconut oil alone can cure some intestinal parasites in your cat, we recommend getting your vet’s opinion before beginning. It could potentially be a wonderful way to prevent future parasitic infections to come.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Deworming Cats
Apple cider vinegar is a trending topic when it comes to curing intestinal parasites in cats due to its ability to create an alkaline environment in the intestinal tract. Many holistic vets suggest that daily consumption of apple cider vinegar for 2 weeks is enough to cure your cat of their parasites, though there are no scientific studies to confirm this.
While an alkaline environment in the intestines may certainly impact any active worms, we’re a bit concerned about the possible effect of daily apple cider vinegar use in your cat. Apple cider vinegar can be a bit harsh on the kidneys, and can potentially worsen underlying issues in your cat that you are not aware of. Because of this, we do not recommend offering apple cider vinegar to your cat until you discuss it with your vet.
Wormwood Herbal Dewormer for Cats
Wormwood is another common topic in holistic pet health for its claims of treating intestinal parasites in humans and pets for years. Though wormwood is known for its ability to treat tapeworms and roundworms, it is known for being a bit harsh on the animal taking it.
Wormwood can seriously impact a cat’s liver, kidneys, and even their nervous system. Wormwood toxicities have been known to cause seizures and serious neurological symptoms, making it a concerning option for daily use in treating intestinal parasites. We don’t recommend using this option, but you can always discuss it with your veterinarian for more information.
Homemade Cat Dewormer
The last option for naturally deworming a cat is homemade cat dewormer recipes.
There are many home remedies online claiming to rid your furry friend of their intestinal worms and are often a combination of the natural options that we’ve listed above. These home remedies range from fasting your cat for 24 hours, offering a combination of coconut oil and garlic, and everything in between.
Due to the ability for anyone without veterinary experience having the ability to create a home remedy and post it online, we recommend refraining from any of these homemade options.
Creating a concoction at home leaves a large possibility of toxicity with incorrect doses of ingredients, as well as the use of potentially toxic ingredients.
Though it’s tempting to create a natural option for your cat at home, it’s just not worth the risk.
Approved Dewormers For Cats
After discussing the natural dewormers above, you may wonder which dewormers we trust to get the job done. Though it appears that some natural options can be extremely beneficial when it comes to preventing intestinal parasites in cats, there are only a few options that we trust to effectively treat an active parasitic infection. These options include:
- Bayer Drontal Broad Spectrum Dewormer (tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms,)
- Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer (tapeworms)
- Panacur Broad Spectrum Dewormer (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, some tapeworms)
- Albon Dewormer (coccidia)
You can purchase many of these options at your veterinarian’s office, at pet stores, or even online with a prescription.
Natural Flea Prevention for Cats
Finally, one of the best ways to prevent tapeworms in your feline friend in the future is through proper flea prevention. Though there are many flea preventions on the market that contain chemicals to deter these crawling critters, there are a few natural options that we recommend for a more holistic approach.
Yoda uses the Seresto collar which works against both ticks and fleas. It is not a natural solution, but here are some that are:
Arava Natural Flea & Tick Prevention: Arava collar uses the idea of prevention with essential oils but without all the risk. This collar is infused with natural scents that are known to repel fleas and ticks and is extremely popular among pet owners that have cats that spend a lot of time outdoors.
Beloved Pets Natural Flea & Tick Prevention: Beloved Pets is another natural flea and tick collar that uses natural scents to help deter crawling critters from hitching a ride on your cat. This collar has a light scent that doesn’t bother your cat but has enough power to repel fleas and ticks for up to 6 months.
When it comes to preventing worms in your cat, there are a few options in the natural treatment department. As long as your cat does not have an active parasitic infection, it’s worth discussing natural deworming options with your veterinarian.
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