Protecting your kitten from worms, fleas and ticks is essential to its health. Nearly every kitten is born with intestinal parasites from its mother. These internal parasites pose a risk to both the kitten and the owner. Protecting your kitten and yourself is a lifelong commitment.
Heartworms are deadly and one of the most common canine parasites. Although less common in cats, it only takes 1 or 2 worms in the cat to cause severe problems. They are transmitted from an infected pet to a non-infected cat through mosquitoes. It takes 6 months for the larva deposited under the skin by a mosquito to migrate and mature in the right side of the heart. Since mosquitoes get indoors, all cats are at risk. Symptoms may include vomiting, coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, weight loss, collapse or convulsions, even death.
Hookworms can be transmitted when the kitten is in utero, nursing, through skin penetration and later in life as cats swallow hookworm eggs or larvae. They attach to the intestinal lining and leave bleeding internal wounds. Hookworms are a zoonotic parasite that can be transmitted to people, especially children. Symptoms include weight loss, weakness, haggard appearance, and dull unkempt fur.
Kittens can acquire roundworms in utero (some species), from nursing, or by eating infected animals such as rodents or snakes. Roundworms are a zoonotic parasite and can be transmitted to people, especially children. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and stunted growth.
Whipworms develop when a cat swallows whipworm eggs passed from an infected cat. Infection is rare. Symptoms include diarrhea, anemia and dehydration.
Giardia is a one celled organism that lives in the small intestines of cats. A large number of cats can be asymptomatic while others develop diarrhea. It is contagious to other cats and people
Coccidiosis is caused by a one-celled organism that multiplies in the small intestines. It is most common in young kittens but has been found in adult cats as well. Coccidiosis can cause diarrhea. It is contagious to other cats.
Flea eggs that have fallen off a pet develop into worm-like larvae, which hide in carpeting, furniture, leaves and other dark places. Adult fleas can then easily attach themselves to the pet when the pet comes into contact with these locations. Symptoms may include itching, skin irritation and extreme discomfort. Fleas can transmit tapeworms and other diseases as well.
Ticks are virtually a problem everywhere. Besides being annoying pests, ticks may also transmit diseases like lyme, ehrlichia and rocky mountain spotted fever.