Many owners are under the false impression that if their pet does not go outside they are not at risk. I often hear, “…. I haven’t seen anything in the litterpan…” but that does not mean your pet does not have intestinal worms.
The eggs of the roundworm and hookworm are microscopic and can be tracked in from outside. Houseflies and other insects can also carry the eggs inside where your pet may be exposed. The tapeworm proglottid is far more visible when it first emerges, but will eventually dry up to resemble a grain of rice or sesame seed. As your cat grooms themself they may ingest the eggs/proglottids and the lifecycle of the intestinal worm can continue.
The recommendations for deworming can vary depending on where you live and the level of risk. South of the border, the Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends deworming monthly on a year round basis. Here, in Canada the risk is not as great through the winter due to our cold temperatures, but annual deworming is still recommended with the frequency dependent on risk: indoor versus outdoor, hunting, flea exposure, etc can increase the number of times/year.
Kittens should be dewormed starting at 2 weeks of age and every 2 weeks thereafter until they are at least 12 weeks old. Kittens get worms from their moms both in utero and through nursing.
There are a number of good products available in Canada. Our own clinic currently carries a topical as well as ‘flavour coated’ tablet that will eliminate roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. For very young kittens we have an oral liquid. Fortunately, we are at low risk of heartworm in this area, but that could change dependent on the number of warm nights we have in the summer.