36–39 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Kitten
How to Keep Your Cat Free of Internal Parasites
You'll never forget the first time you see little wriggling rice grains on your kitten's behind, probably because you'll be so grossed out by the sight. It may be the first time, but it probably won't be the last…unless you use the information below:
Two types of intestinal worms, tapeworms and roundworms, are commonly found in cats.
Tapeworms are the source of the wriggling rice grains, known as proglottids—essentially, body segments full of tapeworm eggs. Cats can also be hosts to hookworms and whipworms, two other types of roundworms. Although it's almost impossible for humans to get tapeworms from cats, roundworms and protozoan parasites such as giardia and toxoplasmosis, can be transmitted to people.
Heartworms are found mostly in dogs, but cats can be infected. Vets think one reason cats don't get heartworms as often as dogs is because their immune systems fight off the microfilaria (baby worms). But because cats' hearts are so small, even one or two worms can cause very serious problems, and treatment is complex and potentially very dangerous to the cat.
The best way to control worms is to keep your kitten inside and prevent fleas. Fleas, lice, cockroaches, beetles, and waterbugs are intermediate hosts of tapeworms and roundworms, so you must keep your home free from pests. Mosquitoes are the primary vector for heartworms. If you keep your cat indoors, she is much less likely to come in contact with the pests that are the sources of intestinal parasites.
If you let your kitten outdoors in an enclosure, make sure it has a waterproof floor, hose it down daily, and let it dry in the sun. Remove stools from the enclosure every day. Clean up areas of stagnant water that serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and for the protozoa that causes giardia. Keep your lawn short and water it only when necessary; shaded and moist earth is an ideal breeding ground for worm eggs and larvae.
Clean your kitten's litter box every day, removing the stools and wet spots. The box should be kept clean and dry, and if your cat should bring home worms or other internal parasites such as giardia, be sure to wash the box frequently with boiling water and bleach. Cleaning the litter box at least once a day will eliminate risk of contracting toxoplasmosis if your cat is a carrier (many cats are not), because cat feces don't begin shedding the toxoplasma parasite until one day after the stool as been deposited.
If your kitten does get worms, ask your vet for a dewormer. Some over-the-counter wormers are effective, but worms have developed a resistance to some of them. The way to be really sure your dewormer will work is to get it from your vet and to give it to your kitten as directed.
Advice from Other Cat Owners
When to Vaccinate Your Kitten
Kittens need their combo vaccine (FVRCPC) starting at 6 or 8 weeks and it is a series of 3 shots, with 2 or 4 week intervals in between. This is essential for building a healthy immune system, so no you cannot delay them or what would be the point of vaccinating?
Rabies would not be necessary for an indoor only cat, nor feline leukemia. I do not vaccinate for these if indoor-only because of the unnecessary risk of side effects. But this does mean your cat must remain indoor only. Definitely do de-worming and stool tests for parasites.
Vaccines are -not- expensive. If you have to ask about cost concerns on here, then definitely do not get two cats. If you have to ask about whether or not you can delay vaccinations or not give them at all, please consider not getting a cat. A FVRCPC shot or a vet visit cost about the same amount as a high quality bag of cat food, so if you can't afford that, please don't get a cat and then give it mediocre care.
~Chrysee H., owner of Ragdoll