Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Natural Way to Deworm Critters

Such a great thing to barn cats have worms.  Yeck.

I have known about it for some time.  I have also been buying some treatment from the local store to mix in their food.  Over and over.  At $5 a shot.  But I have one smart cat - Spot.  He knows what the stuff smells like and there's no way he's eating that crap.  Or that's his attitude anyway.  I have tried mixing it with various foods that he'd normally tear into, like tuna.  Nope.  A couple of sniffs and he walks away.  Since the barn cats eat out of a couple of dishes, he keeps the worm cycle going in all of the cats.  Having a pregnant or nursing mother cat also added to the challenge.

Today I decided to take the natural way - DE (diatomaceous earth - not the swimming pool stuff).  I had read on a bunch of sites that you use 1/2 tsp. per cat, once a day for four days, then repeat in two weeks. I was lucky enough to see Spot and the nursing mother close by without the other rats, I mean cats around.  I mixed up 1 tsp. of DE into a bit of hamburger and split it between the two cats.  The stuff is tasteless, so Spot chowed down.  I did the same for the two other cats.   So we'll see. 

A couple other things that I'm going to try is garlic and pumpkin seeds.  I have plenty of garlic that I can mince to mix w/ their food, but at first it's getting them accustomed to the taste.  I'm sure that Spot will be the challenge here, too.  Ditto with ground pumpkin seeds added to their food.  But I did put a few pumpkin seeds in the ground today.  The ducks and I will enjoy some pumpkin if I can keep the squash bugs off them.  I'm also going to try these methods on my hens.  I'm a big advocate of free range, but the hens all come running when I shake the oatmeal jar.  I think I'll add some DE to their oatmeal and some to their feed in the coop.

Walter at Sugar Mtn has a great blog post about using natural deworming methods for his critters.  He's got a great blog, too, so plan on being there a while!

I do want to mention that traditional worm medicine paralyzes the roundworm, then cat (and chickens) poop 'em out.  My attitude towards this was to give the critters something to make them really poop and hopefully get more nasties out of their system.  I gave the cats a bit of yogurt a few hours after they had the de-worm medicine.  The hens got some oatmeal, applesauce and yogurt mixed together.  Every critter was poo-ing.  Except for Spot.
I'm not so keen on having my cats with belly aches for four days, so I think I'll pass on the yogurt this time.

Update 7/19:  I'm not convinced that the DE is doing much of anything.  The thing that make it effective on insects is that while it feels like talcum powder to us, it's very sharp to the bug.  It scratches the outside of the bug, causing it to dehydrate and die.  In that respect, DE is good while it stays dry.  Which it's not when eaten.