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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24471
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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I have saved a community/feral cat from having her kittens

Customer Question

I have saved a community/feral cat from having her kittens outside. They were born indoors with me (I have 24 yrs. a private rescuer) but has been quite awhile since three prior litters were saved. Many other individual rescues.
Kittens under my care have been extremely healthy, no respiratory or other issues in three months, but Momma obviously has had a roundworm problem previously when outdoors over the summer or earlier that has gone untreated. One of the kittens was observed scooting and we found a dead roundworm on the floor near the litterbox.
So the litter has been dewormed for the first time now and I was about to attempt Mom, but occurred to me might not be the best idea for several reasons - we are full at the Inn right now, kitty angel just never stops, and I can't separate kittens and Mom yet, They are still observed occasionally nursing, although long ago weaned. It will be inside of another month before I can remove them from the room with Mom.
I am ready to deworm her now, but please confirm yes or no that the medication would pass through her milk and cause risk of overdose to the kittens. I pride myself on limiting risk, so if she is truly still lactating, I don't want to create potential toxicity to her brood. Please advise if I should hold off a little while longer until I can separate them.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Not only would it be safe but also indicated to worm the kittens at their age and so any pyrantel ingested through the milk at this time would be welcome! I'll begin worming at 2 weeks of age and then worm every 2 weeks thereafter until the kittens are 10 weeks of age. In any event pyrantel - the roundwormer I would recommend - is considered safe to use in nursing veterinary patients. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish. I have to leave my computer for the night but I promise to reply in the morning if need be.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, their system is bad. I replied back to you right away through a chat box that doesnt work. Rep I called told me Just Answer is trying to get rid of that, I am not the only customer that has been confused.Sorry, but I still need clarification. The Sentry product I could find in my area has piperazine not pyrantel and says that a repeat application in two weeks is OK, but to not deworm more frequently than twice per yr for cats and kittens with this formulation. I have already dewormed the kittens. I am afraid to deworm the Mother for fear of overdose through her milk if they still occasionally nurse, which I have observed them doing. They are 3- 4 lbs and she is at least twice or more their weight and would be given almost twice as much medication. I imagine even if it passes through they wouldn't get that much at one time and they mostly eat solid food and don't rely on the nursing. They might do it once per day. I am still nervous about doing it as I am not clear on your response as to whether it is safe for them to ingest it directly and then some additionally that might pass through the milk.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I had trouble accessing your question this morning too. Thank you for the additional information. Piperazine isn't as effective as pyrantel but "is probably safe to use during nursing" according to Plumb's Veterinary Handbook, 8th Ed., 2015. I wouldn't hesitate to worm the mother if only because adverse effects are uncommon even at recommended doses and so if the kittens were wormed properly and then ingested a tiny amount of piperazine in the milk no adverse effects are expected. (In a system evaluating the safety of drugs in canine and feline pregnancy (Papcih 1989) this drug is categorized as class: A (Probably safe.) Although specific studies may not have proved the safety of all drugs in dos and cats, there are no reports of adverse effects in laboratory animals or women.) Please continue our conversation if you wish.