Praziquantel for Cats: Everything You Need to Know

Praziquantel for Cats

Praziquantel for cats is a popular medication that is primarily used to treat tapeworm infections. In this article, we will delve into what praziquantel is, how it works, when it is used, potential side effects to consider, and answer some frequently asked questions.

About Praziquantel for Cats

Praziquantel is an anthelmintic, also known as a dewormer, specifically designed to target cestodes or tapeworms. It works by interacting with components of the tapeworm’s skin, causing electrolyte disturbance and paralyzing its sucker function. This disturbance also leads to the disintegration of the worm’s outer skin layer, making it vulnerable to digestion by the cat.

While praziquantel is highly effective against tapeworms, it is not effective against other types of intestinal parasites. However, some products combine praziquantel with other deworming agents to provide a broader spectrum of coverage.

Praziquantel is FDA-approved for the treatment of specific tapeworms in cats. However, it may also be used off-label for less common tapeworms and certain lungworms.

What Does Praziquantel Do for Cats?

Cats with Tapeworm

Praziquantel is FDA-approved for treating two types of tapeworms in cats: Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis.

Dipylidium caninum is the most commonly seen tapeworm in cats. Cats usually contract it by ingesting fleas that carry the infective stage of the tapeworm. Even cats on flea prevention can acquire this tapeworm if they hunt and ingest fleas from the environment.

Taenia taeniaeformis, on the other hand, is acquired by cats through hunting and ingesting rodents or small animals that harbor the encysted larval stage of the tapeworm.

Tapeworms may not always be detected in stool samples, but cat owners often notice small, rice-like worm segments around their cat’s anus or in fresh stool. While tapeworms may initially cause no signs of disease, they can lead to weight loss over time.

Praziquantel is highly effective against both Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis, with a single dose usually sufficient. In some cases, veterinarians may recommend a second dose after two to three weeks, especially when dealing with heavy parasite burdens.

Side Effects of Praziquantel for Cats

Fortunately, cats generally tolerate praziquantel very well, with less than 2% showing adverse effects in field studies.

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If side effects do occur, the most commonly reported signs include drooling and diarrhea. Diarrhea can be observed in cats with higher worm burdens as the dying worms are broken down by the body.

It is important to note that praziquantel should not be used in kittens younger than 6 weeks of age. While it appears safe to use in pregnant queens, caution should be taken if using a combination product that contains other ingredients not approved for pregnancy. Praziquantel can also be used safely in nursing queens but should not be administered directly to the kittens.

When used properly, praziquantel has a wide margin of safety. However, extremely high doses (over 10 times the appropriate dosage) can result in concerning effects such as vomiting, muscle tremors, difficulty walking, depression, and even death.

If you suspect that your cat has developed side effects from praziquantel or if an overdose is suspected, it is crucial to contact your veterinarian, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435), or Pet Poison Helpline (1-855-764-7661) immediately for further guidance.

Praziquantel for Cats Dosage

Oral Medication

Praziquantel is available in two primary forms: oral tablets and topical solutions. Let’s take a closer look at the dosage instructions for each.

Droncit Oral Tablets

Droncit is an oral praziquantel tablet manufactured by Bayer Animal Health. It is FDA-approved for use in cats and kittens aged at least 6 weeks. The recommended dosage instructions for 23 milligram tablets are as follows:

  • Cats weighing 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and under: 0.5 tablet
  • Cats weighing 5 to 11 pounds (2.3 to 5 kilograms): 1 tablet
  • Cats weighing more than 11 pounds (5 kilograms): 1.5 tablets

Drontal Oral Tablets

Drontal, also manufactured by Bayer Animal Health, contains pyrantel pamoate in addition to praziquantel. This combination broadens its action to include hookworms and roundworms. Drontal is FDA-approved for use in cats and kittens aged at least 2 months and weighing at least 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms).

The dosage instructions for Drontal tablets containing 18.2 milligrams praziquantel and 72.6 milligrams pyrantel are as follows:

  • Cats weighing 2 to 3 pounds (0.9 to 1.4 kilograms): 0.5 tablet
  • Cats weighing 4 to 8 pounds (1.8 to 3.6 kilograms): 1 tablet
  • Cats weighing 9 to 12 pounds (4.1 to 5.4 kilograms): 1.5 tablets
  • Cats weighing 13 to 16 pounds (5.9 to 7.3 kilograms): 2 tablets

In most cases, a single dose is sufficient for both Drontal and Droncit. However, some veterinarians may recommend a second dose after two to three weeks, particularly when dealing with heavy parasite burdens.

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Profender Topical Solution

Profender, manufactured by Bayer Animal Health, provides a non-oral alternative for treating tapeworms in cats. It is also effective against roundworms and hookworms.

Profender comes in three dosage sizes: small, medium, and large, catering to cats weighing different ranges. If your cat weighs more than the largest size available, the manufacturer recommends combining the appropriate sizes to treat its full weight.

To apply Profender, remove the cap, turn it over, place it into the tip of the tube, and twist to break the seal. Then, part the fur at the back of the neck or base of the head and apply the solution to the skin.

A single application of Profender lasts for 30 days, effectively treating most tapeworm infections. However, it is crucial to address the underlying source, such as fleas or predation of smaller tapeworm hosts.

Centragard Topical Solution

Centragard, manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim, is another topical product that treats tapeworms in cats. It contains both praziquantel and eprinomectin. In addition to tapeworms, Centragard also treats roundworms, hookworms, and prevents mosquito-borne heartworm disease. It is FDA-approved for cats and kittens aged at least 7 weeks and weighing at least 1.8 pounds.

Centragard comes in two dosage sizes: 0.3 milliliters for cats weighing 1.8 to 5.5 pounds and 0.9 milliliters for cats weighing 5.5 to 16.5 pounds. For cats weighing more than 16.5 pounds, the manufacturer recommends combining dosages according to their weight range.

To apply Centragard, slightly pull the plunger back, remove the cap, and apply the solution to the skin between parted fur at the base of the head or back of the neck.

Like Profender, Centragard remains effective for 30 days, providing comprehensive treatment for most tapeworm infections with a single application.

After administering tapeworm treatment to your cat, monitor for any recurring rice-like segments around the anal area or in fresh stool. Tapeworm eggs are usually not detectable in fecal samples analyzed using traditional methods at veterinary clinics and labs.

In Summary

Praziquantel is a highly effective dewormer primarily used to treat tapeworms in cats. While it may not have a broad spectrum of action against other intestinal worms, it can be combined with other products for better coverage. Both oral and topical forms of praziquantel are available for use in cats and are generally well-tolerated.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding praziquantel or tapeworm infections in your cat, it is best to consult with your veterinarian. Remember, a healthy and worm-free cat is a happy cat!

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