Buyer's Guide

Keep Your Cat and Your Family Safe with These Top 5 Dewormers

5 Best Dewormer For Cats

  1. Pro-Sense Liquid Dewormer Solutions For Cats
  2. Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer for Cats
  3. Oral Pro Pyrantel Pamoate Oral Suspension 50mg/ml
  4. Pyrintal Broad Spectrum Dewormer for Cats
  5. HomeoPet WRM Clear

No one likes to think about it, but intestinal worms are common in cats. In fact, many are born with them while others contract them from fleas or prey.

Although some cats show few symptoms of infection, the physical effects can be devastating for others, and several types of worms can easily be spread to you and your family.

Thankfully, there is an effective solution and better yet, it’s available without a prescription. Let’s look at five top dewormers that can be purchased over-the-counter and review important information about how to use them.

Pro-Sense Liquid Dewormer Solutions For Cats 

Roundworms are the most common type of intestinal parasites. Most cats will contract them at some point in their lives, and according to the specialists at Sheridan Animal Hospital, kittens can contract roundworm from dormant larvae in their mother’s uterus or from infected milk.

The active ingredient in Pro-Sense liquid wormer is piperazine. It’s inexpensive, easy to administer and is very effective for the treatment of roundworm. Use a calibrated over-the-counter medication syringe to give it by mouth or add it to a soft treat.

Piperazine is considered to be safe, but it can have side effects including vomiting, diarrhea, and tremor if not administered properly, and it is not recommended for use in pregnant cats. Two doses are recommended initially and should be given two weeks apart.

Pro-Sense Liquid Dewormer Solutions For Cats

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Pros

  •  Clear label instructions
  • Easy to give liquid form
  • Economical for routine use

Cons

  • Not recommended for pregnant cats
  • Treats only roundworm — not tapeworm or hookworm

Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer for Cats 

Once available only by prescription, praziquantel is now available over-the-counter for the treatment of tapeworm in cats.

Tapeworm contracted from ingesting infected fleas or small rodents, is a long intestinal worm that grows in segments — each serving as an egg sac. This helpful YouTube video from Bayer explains the process.

Segments are shed periodically and may be visible in feces, but are most often found stuck to the fur around a cat’s anus. If your cat has had fleas recently, infection is a real possibility.

According to veterinarian Marie Haynes, Bayer’s tapeworm treatment is safe for all cats over 6 weeks of age including pregnant and nursing mothers.

Each 3-tablet box is enough for several treatments, but tapeworms are usually eliminated with one dose given orally or crushed in soft food.

Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer for Cats

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Pros

  • Highly effective single-dose treatment
  • Crushable tablets
  • Safe for pregnant and nursing cats

Cons

  • Costly
  • The Proper dosage required cutting tablets
  • Treats only tapeworms

Oral Pro Pyrantel Pamoate Oral Suspension 50mg/ml 

Pyrantel pamoate is a tried and true treatment for roundworm and hookworm in cats. It’s a pleasant tasting liquid and is so gentle that it’s ideal for kittens, nursing mothers, and even humans.

Several treatments, however, may be required and that makes this large 16-ounce bottle a budget-friendly choice for owners with multiple cats.

Administer it with an oral syringe or in soft food, and worms will typically be passed within hours. Because this is sold in a bulk pharmacy pack, it’s labeled as a treatment for human pinworm, but contains instructions for use in a variety of species including cats.

Oral Pro Pyrantel Pamoate Oral Suspension

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Pros

  • Pleasant-tasting
  • Easy to administer
  • Cost-effective economy bulk pack
  • Safe for kittens and pregnant cats

Cons

  • Bulk pharmacy pack labeling is vague
  • Not effective for tapeworm

Pyrintal Broad Spectrum Dewormer for Cats 

Get the best of both worlds with this dewormer that eliminates roundworm, tapeworm, and hookworm. The active ingredients praziquantel and pyrantel embonate — a less expensive form of pyrantel pamoate — are safe and effective for cats over six weeks of age.

Pyrintal Cat Wormers Roundworm Tapeworm Dewormer Cats

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The single drawback is that it’s costly for the treatment of roundworm alone, but it does provide both broad-spectrum treatment and peace of mind.

The tablet form is tougher to give than liquids, but watch this YouTube video to see a licensed veterinary technician demonstrate an easy way to give cats pills.

Pros

  • Broad-spectrum treatment
  • Safe for all cats over six weeks old
  • Clear dosage instructions

Cons

  • Tablet form can be hard to give
  • Costly and be more than some cats need
  • Not suitable for the youngest kittens

HomeoPet WRM Clear 

For a natural approach to worm control, consider this homeopathic treatment by HomeoPet. It’s all-natural, comes in an easy to give liquid form and has absolutely no known side effects for cats of any age.

It does not, however, kills worms. It works by helping a cat’s immune system remove them from their body and may aid in their overall recovery.

Homeopet Feline Worm Clear Drops

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To get rid of roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, and whipworm — an uncommon infection in North America — dosing is done three times daily, and a full course of treatment takes two weeks.

If you have small children in the home to protect or a cat suffering symptoms from a known intestinal worm infection, this product won’t achieve the quickest results, but for cats who have had reactions to chemical dewormers or for routine prevention, it’s a safe and natural alternative.

What are the symptoms of worms? 

Most worm infections share a few common symptoms, but others are distinctly different and it’s also important to recognize that some cats show no symptoms at all. Here’s what you can look for:

Roundworm

  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Dull, dry coat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Round, white, spaghetti-like worms in vomit or stool

Tapeworm

  • Weight loss
  • Changes in appetite
  • Distended abdomen
  • Dry coat and hair loss
  • Tapeworm eggs sacs that appear as wet or dried grains of rice around the anus
  • Excessive licking around the anus

Hookworm

  •  Skin rash on the pads and around the feet
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody or black, tar-like stools
  • Anemia and weakness

Can worms kill a cat?

Feline deaths strictly from parasites are rare, but because they cause malnutrition, they can certainly contribute to illness.

According to veterinarian Ernest Ward, deaths occur primarily in kittens affected by hookworms. Found most commonly in warm, humid climates, hookworms feed on tissue and blood in the intestinal tract, causing blood loss and severe, life-threatening anemia.

How do dewormers work? 

Each works differently. Here’s how the most common medicines get rid of intestinal parasites.

Pyrantel

Pyrantel blocks the transmission of nerve impulses to the worms’ muscles, causing paralysis. They are then effectively purged from the gastrointestinal tract in feces.

Piperazine

According to Vetinfo, piperazine also works as a neurotoxin. It paralyzes the worm, causing it to detach from the intestinal wall and allowing it to be expelled with feces.

Praziquantel

Praziquantel has a unique method of action. It compromises the worm’s ability to protect itself from digestion and in a bit of irony, it is then digested with other food.

Because of this, it’s unusual to see a tapeworm expelled in the litter box, but you should stop seeing any segments attached to the fur around the cat’s behind.

How long does it take dewormers to work? 

Most dewormers work within a few hours to a few days, however, deworming on a whole should be considered a process. Why?

Because according to PetMD, some medicines only target worms of a specific age, and in order to ensure they are eliminated, additional doses must be given to kill worms that were unaffected by the first dose.

It’s also common for cats to become reinfected, especially if they go outdoors, but even indoor cats are a risk if they have fleas.

The best way to protect your cat and your family is to eliminate known parasitic infections, then consider a routine preventive regimen for all pets in the home.

How do I choose the right dewormer? 

Diagnosing worms is tricky. Cats may have worms, but no symptoms, or you may see her pass one type of worm in her stool while another is hiding inside. It’s always best to start with a fecal exam done by your veterinarian.

A small sample in special solution is spun in a centrifuge, making eggs rise to the top. The top liquid is then examined microscopically, and once worms are identified, they can be treated.

An annual fecal exam is important because it not only detects parasites, it helps your veterinarian guide you to the right medication and any other steps that should be taken to prevent reinfection.

Alternatively, you can treat cats with a broad spectrum product, but you may be paying for more than you need. Since whipworm is uncommon in cats in North America, focus prevention on roundworm, hookworm, and tapeworm.

It’s worth noting that other types of common “worms,” are not intestinal parasites or even worms at all. Heartworm, for example, is transmitted by mosquitoes and lives in the bloodstream, not the intestinal tract while ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin.

When should I deworm my cat? 

Kittens should be wormed at six weeks for round and hookworm and then as directed depending on the type of medication used. It’s a good idea to have a fecal exam done after the first round of treatment and annually.

Tapeworm, however, may not always be found with fecal analysis because their eggs don’t float as well in the solution used for testing. It’s best to look for symptoms or for egg sacs around your cat’s anus and treat accordingly.

Can I catch worms from my cat? 

Dr. Lucas White says, unfortunately, yes. Both roundworm and hookworm can be transmitted from cats to humans.

Hookworm infection manifests as a skin rash known as larva migrans. This occurs when larval worms penetrate the skin, and it’s most common on the feet.

Roundworm infection is less definitive. It’s typically the result of accidental ingestion of worm eggs, but because humans are not an ideal host for roundworm, they circulate through the body where they damage internal organs instead of settling down in the intestinal tract. Roundworm infection remains a leading cause of blindness in children worldwide.

How do I know if I’ve contracted worms from my cat? 

Since hookworm creates an itchy rash that most people can’t ignore, it’s easy to detect, but unfortunately, the damage from roundworm is done before other symptoms occur.

Since children are the most likely to accidentally ingest roundworm eggs, it’s critical to check and treat pets in your home routinely.

To avoid hookworm, don’t walk in bare feet indoors if you have pets or outdoors in area pets frequent.

To prevent roundworm infection, wash your hands after petting your cat and encourage children to do the same. Use gloves to clean the litter box and sanitize it regularly.

Can I deworm my cat naturally? 

Natural remedies are tempting to use, and they can play a valuable role in parasite prevention, but most lack testing to show how they work or to prove their efficacy against worms.

Commercial preparations are made of ingredients with probable, but not proven anti-parasitic effects, so when it counts, you can’t depend on them to eliminate worms.

Because of the risk, intestinal worms pose to both cats and humans — especially children — the experts at PetMD don’t recommend using natural remedies except as adjunct prevention.

What else can I do to prevent worms? 

Part of the battle is preventing reinfection. For cats that go outdoors, regular deworming for roundworm helps decrease the total number of worm eggs in the home environment over time, and that’s helpful for both you and your cat.

Preventing tapeworm requires conscientious flea control on both cats and in the home. All-in-one treatments for both fleas and intestinal worms are available but can be costly, and they’re not always the best option. Check with your veterinarian to see if they’re recommended for your cat.

Your cat depends on you to do the right thing and in the case of intestinal parasites, that helps keep you and your family safe, too. Worms can seem like a bad dream, but with the right treatment, they don’t have to become a nightmare scenario.