Feline Pharmacy

This article can help in the following CPD competencies: G1c, G1h, G1l, C2a. A list is available at www.uptodate.org.uk/home/PlanRecord.shtml


* To be aware of the most common parasitic infections in cats

* To be able to advise on prophylaxis

* To know what remedies are toxic to cats

* To be aware of your legal position when selling animal medicines

* To be aware of legal changes happening next week


This course (module 1353), in association with multiple choice questions being published in C&D November 5, provides one hour’s continuing education

Michael Jepson considers community pharmacists’ important role in parasite control for cats and some imminent legal changes

Community pharmacists should not underrate the range of their specialist knowledge of medicines and its application. In the high street, this expertise is extensively applied to human medication but there is a need to be pro-active when it comes to animal medication. This can be helped by reference to key sources such as the Veterinary Pharmacy textbook and The Veterinary Formulary.1,2


For example, most pharmacists would know that aspirin is toxic to cats but are probably less aware that cod liver oil can also be toxic. As cod liver oil is usually considered a dietary supplement, it is not referred to in the British National Formulary, the Medicines, Ethics and Practice guide, or even the comprehensive Veterinary Formulary.3 This is just a reminder that all animal species have their own distinct metabolic systems, which will often differ markedly from those of humans.

The close association of companion animals with their owners makes hygiene and parasite control all the more important. Zoonotic diseases can be serious and risks must be minimised, as described in the first article in this series (C&D, August 13, p17-19).

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Parasitic worms

Healthcare of cats has many similarities to that for dogs (C&D, September 24, p23-28). Internal parasitic worms are endemic in free- ranging animals and good animal husbandry means that regular worming programmes are followed. Cats, like dogs, are mainly infected by two types of worms: nematodes (roundworms) and cestodes (tapeworms).


Toxocara cati has a similar life cycle to that of T canis in dogs, but there is no prenatal transplacental infection of the unborn. However, infection from the milk of lactating queens (female cat) does occur and is of correspondingly greater significance. Infection may also be acquired by ingesting eggs. After eggs have hatched to form larvae, they migrate through the liver and lungs before being coughed up and swallowed. They then develop into egg laying adults.

Consequently kittens need worming in a slightly different way from pups, and a pharmacist’s understanding of such differences can reassure pet owners when explaining dosage regimens. Clinical effects are not evident unless there is a particularly heavy worm burden and, contrary to popular belief, a cat or a dog can have worms without showing symptoms. Worms are not normally visible in faeces as it is the egg stage of the parasite’s life cycle that is passed. The exception is that segments of tapeworm may be visible without magnification.

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