Original Question: My cat has tapeworms and I'm on a limited income and can't afford a vet visit right now. - Kelly
Thanks for your question and your honesty.
I’m very aware of how expensive it is to visit a veterinarian. You are presenting a diagnosis with a great deal of confidence so I assume you have identified the tapeworm segments and compared them to a resource you found online or with someone knowledgeable. If this is the case, then I understand your reluctance to pay for an expensive physical exam that may reveal what you already know.
Let me mention a few things you may not have considered. If your cat has tapeworms, keep in mind that it is possible that there are other parasites present that are not so easily seen or identified. Some of these parasites do not shed into the feces and they could be present without your knowledge. For this reason, and to potentially save money, you could simply collect a fecal sample and drop it off at your local veterinary clinic to confirm your diagnosis and ensure that there are no other concurrent parasites present. Also, keep in mind that fleas carry tapeworms so you may want to look over your cat for evidence of this as it may have been the source. By dropping off a fecal sample for testing alone, the veterinarian may be inclined to dispense anti-parasitic medication without having to perform an expensive physical exam along with it but keep in mind that our licensing regulations dictate that we have to have an active Veterinary-Client-Patient relationship. This means that a veterinarian cannot dispense medication to you and your pet unless they have seen you for a visit within the last 12 months. This is a licensing rule in Ontario but you’ll have to find out the requirements in the province or state that you reside.
As a possible alternative, you may be able to contact a humane society or shelter and inquire about deworming medication there. It is common for these facilities to have this medication on hand for the strays and abandoned pets that they bring into their facilities. Deworming is a common treatment that is performed when admitting animals with an unknown background. I wouldn’t expect to receive it since these entities are not licensed to dispense such treatments, but it is a consideration.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
Dr Clayton Greenway