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C2007-46

Dear Christopher Cat

My friend feeds her horses, dogs and cats food-grade diatomaceous earth to prevent intestinal parasites, and she recommends that I treat my cats with it. She says it’s safe because it isn’t a chemical. What do you think?

Christopher Responds

Dewormers available through veterinarians are remarkably safe and effective, so I prefer them.

Diatomaceous earth (DE), the hardened remains of diatoms, one-celled phytoplankton that once floated in oceans and lakes, is sometimes used topically to kill fleas and other insects.

It works by abrading the tough exoskeletons of insects severely enough to dehydrate and kill them.

If diatoms’ edges are that sharp, I sure don’t want them scratching the lining of my delicate stomach and intestines.

Besides, I am not aware of any studies showing that food-grade DE is safe or even effective against intestinal parasites in cats or dogs.

Moreover, inhaled food-grade DE can damage the respiratory tract.

By the way, the product is called food-grade DE to distinguish it from pool-filter DE, which is treated with heat and chemicals, making it poisonous if ingested.

It’s important that your cats’ parasites be killed not only for the cats’ sake but because their parasites can infect other animals, including humans who inadvertently ingest their microscopic eggs.

So see your veterinarian for a dewormer that is widely recognized to be both effective and safe in cats.

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