Parasite control is important in cats of all ages. Prevention includes both animal and environmental control. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) guidelines contain recommendations about prevention of ecto- and endoparasites, fecal testing, and more.20The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on a variety of zoonoses. Items for discussion are listed in Table 1, and a few specifics are expanded on below.
- Although the incidence in cats is lower than it is in dogs (10–15% of the rate in dogs), both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk of heartworm infection.
- Infection with even a small number of adult worms can cause severe disease.
- Signs differ from those in dogs, tending to be nonspecific.
- A combination of antigen and antibody testing increases the probability of an accurate diagnosis.
- Adulticide treatment is currently not recommended for cats. There is no evidence that it improves survival in infected cats, and the death of adult worms can be life-threatening.
- Monthly prophylaxis is both safe and effective. Some heartworm preventives also provide control of other parasites.
- Because prenatal infection does not occur in kittens, roundworm treatment given every 2 weeks can start at 3 weeks of age. Kittens may begin receiving a monthly general endoparasite preventive at 8–9 weeks of age.20
All life stages
- Feces testing allows monitoring of compliance with preventive medication as well as diagnosis of some endoparasites not treated by broad-spectrum preventives.
- Heartworm presents a risk at all life stages in endemic areas.52 Some points of note are listed in the adjacent box; additional details may be found on the websites of the CAPC and American Heartworm Society.