As we approach the warmer summer days, cat owners should be aware of parasites that become more active. Similar to dogs, cats should be given flea and tick prevention, especially during the summer months to protect their furry friends from potential problems that parasites can bring.
Ticks and fleas are external parasites that are able to find the perfect home living in your pet’s fur. They become active once environmental temperatures are above 0˚C. Depending on where you live, they may be active all year-round. Ticks and fleas are mostly found in tall, grassy areas such as fields or trails. Since they are usually concentrated in woody areas, many cat owners tend to skip prevention for their cats, especially if they strictly stay indoors. However, fleas and ticks are very persistent and may still find a way to get to your cats. Some ways include through contact with your other pets who may have carried it from being outdoors, visiting places such as the veterinary clinic where exposure risks could be high, hanging out by the window sill or screen door where opportunistic fleas are able to jump onto your cat, and even contact through you if a flea hitched a ride on your clothes from outside!
Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the most common type of flea that can be found on cats. This type of flea differs from the ones found on dogs, but both are still able to infect the other host. Fleas can lay thousands of eggs, the majority of which will fall off your pet and into your home. Given the right temperature and humidity, these eggs can hatch and infest you and other members of your family as well. Cat fleas are dark brown and only a couple of millimeters in length. They feed on the blood of their hosts, and can cause itchiness or irritation in your cat’s skin.
Similar to fleas, ticks bite their hosts and feed on blood as well. However, ticks are easier to spot and feel as they are larger in size. These eight-legged parasites are dark brown in colour and grow larger the longer they stay on and feed off their host! It is recommended that owners check if their cats have ticks by running your hands over your cat’s body. Although they can attach anywhere on the body, ticks tend to attach themselves near the ears, neck and feet of cats. If you do find a tick on your cat, tick removing tools can be found at your local pet store or a quick stop to the veterinarian clinic should do the trick!
Not only are tick and fleas nasty pests, but they also have potential to transmit diseases and cause their host health problems. For cats, fleas are the bigger problem out of the two. They can cause irritation and bald patches in the fur due to over-grooming and scratching. Flea allergies may also develop, which can lead to scabs and uncomfortable areas of the skin. Tapeworm can also be transmitted to cats who have ingested infected fleas while self-grooming. Adult tapeworms can pose a problem to your cat’s health as they will feed on the nutrients that your cat needs, resulting in weight loss. Cat ticks, on the other hand, can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease or Babesiosis. However, it is very uncommon that cats get affected by tick-borne diseases. These illnesses are more likely to pose a problem to dogs, rather than cats.
The best way to deal with ticks and fleas is to prevent the problem before it even starts by using preventatives. Prevention products can be found at your veterinarian clinic or at pet stores. Many of the products are topical applications, which is usually a much easier way than giving prevention orally. It should be given monthly throughout the warmer months to be the most effective. Whichever product you do end up choosing for your pet, it is always important to consult with your veterinarian to see if the product is right for your pet.
Ticks and fleas are a major problem that owners face every year during the summer months. It is important to stay proactive and beat the problem before it even starts. Take prevention monthly and enjoy the warmer months!