Get rid of our cats' fleas and worms!
January 17, 2004 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Our three cats have fleas and worms. We've tried a couple of over-the-counter products, but they haven't helped (especially with the worms, which are our biggest concern). The vet wants to sell us expensive remedies, of which we are very skeptical. Before we shell out big bucks for the stuff the vet suggests, are there other things we should try? What has worked for you?
posted by jdroth to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
I've found the over-the-counter worm stuff to be effective only in the mildest cases, and only with certain cats, and even then only when the fleas were entirely under control or absent. A vet should be able to give you the proper treatment for something on the order of $20 a cat plus the cost of the visit.
posted by majick at 8:26 PM on January 17, 2004

Are you skeptical of your doctor writing you a prescription? Just because your vet sells the stuff doesn't mean he's ignoring his professional expertise and ethics in order to make a buck. If you don't want to buy from your vet, get a prescription from her/him and buy online. Avoid over the counter stuff, it's not only usually ineffective, it's often far more potentially harmful to the pet than the stuff the vet sells (Hartz products in particular). Fleas and worms are harmful to your cats, there is medication which will actually work (as opposed to over the counter/natural/holistic/what have you), just bite the bullet and take your vet's advice. If you don't trust your vet, find a different one, but don't put off treating potentially serious problems because you begrudge paying for stuff that actually works.
posted by biscotti at 10:37 PM on January 17, 2004

That Hartz stuff you put between their shoulders damn near killed my sister's cats last summer; they were shaking and twitching and drooling. We washed it off and they got better but it was scary. (Also, washing terrified cats is no fun.)
posted by nicwolff at 12:53 AM on January 18, 2004

I would strongly recommend going with the vet's treatment decision.
posted by xyzzy at 3:31 AM on January 18, 2004

The flea stuff you get from the vet works amazingly well. I have found with the monthly variety that we may only give one treatment for the winter and step it up as the spring and summer progress. We probably only end up treating the cats 7-8 times a year and the fleas are kept in check.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 5:35 AM on January 18, 2004

Thanks for the comments; you've convinced me to bite the bullet and go with the vet's recommendations.

We have two vets in town. We've been seeing the first for nearly a decade, but more and more it feels like he recommends things simply to get us to spend more money. "Try this expensive cat food. Peform this expensive test. I gave your cat this expensive shot.", etc. With our newest cat, I switched to the other vet. He seems a little better, but he's slimy in his own way. "Hey — did I tell you about the internet business I'm in. You could invest, too."

It's not that I'm opposed to vets on principle, but these two guys give me a gitchy feeling. (And I'm not alone; I know many people in town who actually travel a half hour to the next town just to avoid these guys.)

I guess I should have given a bit of background on why I was wary of the vets' recommendations instead of just posting the question as is.

Anyhow: thanks for your comments. I'll be using whatever the vet recommends.
posted by jdroth at 8:03 AM on January 18, 2004

First off, I've been to vets like that, the kind who turn their noses up at you if you are feeding your cats something from the supermarket. It sucks and puts pet owners in an awkward place. I completely sympathize.

So, I know it's sometime inconvenient (especially since cats tend to freak out in the car), but is there any other vet you can go to out of town? Maybe ask friends in the area or family or someone at work who they go to?

If you can get to a PetSmart, they have a clinic in the store and the vet (in my experiences there) doesn't push anything on you as far as expensive specialty foods, internet IPOs (!), whatever. It's 13 miles away from you though. Similarly, there's a Petco that offers the same services 10 miles away (i went by your zipcode in your profile, check the webpages for directions and locations).

I am fortunate to have found a decent down to earth vet in walking distance of my house for my puppy and cat, but have used the in-store vets for mild treatments in the past and have found them pleasant and relatively cheaper.

Oh, another thing to consider and I know it goes beyond the realm of your question (and my apologies if i am overstepping here), but if the cats are totally infested with fleas, you may have to treat the house (carpets, furniture, upholstery) too. Could become an expensive cycle of the fleas in the house getting on the cats and vice versa. Happened to my parents about 15 years ago.

good luck and hope the kitties feel well soon.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:33 AM on January 18, 2004

A few years ago, we lived in an apartment with a minor spider problem. We were reluctant to spray, because of the effect pesticides might have on our three cats. Instead, we tried a Riddex, which creates a charged field in your house using your electrical wiring. The cats didn't even notice, and the bugs were gone within a month. My point in mentioning this is that not only did we get rid of the spiders, we also haven't seen fleas on the cats since we started using the Riddex.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2004

the kind who turn their noses up at you if you are feeding your cats something from the supermarket.

People often think this is snobbery, but it isn't. It's not the vet turning his nose up at you, it's the vet doing his job. Would you expect a doctor not to say anything to a parent who feeds their kids nothing but McDonald's? Supermarket-brand pet foods are just not good for your pets, they contain all manner of filler and by-product, and you need to feed twice as much of it as the higher-end brands. You're not actually saving money by feeding supermarket foods. See here for info on what the labels mean, and here.
posted by biscotti at 10:37 AM on January 18, 2004

advantage for the fleas - and don't let the vet sell you a whole box, one dose for each pet will do it. unless you live in a strange area that's prone to flea infestations you won't need to use it once a month, the first dose will take care of adult and larval fleas permanently.

That Hartz stuff you put between their shoulders damn near killed my sister's cats last summer

hartz flea powder kills aprox. 5,000 cats a year, it's evil crap that really shouldn't be on the market. your vet will have the safe stuff that won't harm your pet and actually works. that's why it costs more.
posted by t r a c y at 2:48 PM on January 18, 2004

For the worms, for prevention purposes, you can use wormwood, cloves, and black walnut in their food. This is not much cheaper than just keeping them on something like Program or Advantage, and may not help with the fleas, but can make your animal more resistant to parasites, particularly intestinal parasites.
posted by pomegranate at 4:45 PM on January 18, 2004

Your cats probably have tapeworms from the flea eggs (are there things that look like grains of rice in their stool? Those are tapeworms, yeah, ick). There are many places online (I've had pretty good luck with these guys) and other flea treatments a bit cheaper than what your vet charges. Many of them also sell the pills to deworm your cats. Smash them up and hide them in some wet food. Works great, gets rid of the worms lickety split.

Also, you may need to treat your house with flea bombs as well. I've also heard borax powder in your carpets helps kill fleas, but I've never tried it myself.
posted by calistasm at 11:32 PM on January 18, 2004

Go with the Vet. Most are ethical professionals, and your pets deserve the care. If it is very expensive, talk with the office manager about it. Through the years, many vets I've gone too have been willing to work out a payment plan of some sort for expensive treatments. Usually they will just send you a bills and allow you to make payments. I've never had outdoor cats, so I'm not sure how medicine payments work . . .I'd imagine you would have to pay for it up-front. But all the vets I've known want to see their patients healthy, and will probably try to work out something cost-wise.
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:55 AM on January 20, 2004

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