What are fleas and ticks?
Fleas are tiny insects and Ticks are parasitic arachnids, both of which survive by feeding off of the blood of an animal or human host.
How do fleas and ticks impact the health and well-being of my cat?
Both fleas & ticks decrease your cat's overall comfort and can lead to otherwise preventable infections, parasites, and diseases if left unprotected.
How do cats get fleas and ticks?
Your cat can be exposed to fleas & ticks when they spend time outside - even in the safety of your backyard - and if they are in close proximity with a flea-infested pet.
Why is prevention of fleas and ticks so important?
Fleas can cause a variety of issues for your cat, ranging from intestinal parasites (when ingested during grooming) to skin allergies & secondary infections. Once fleas are in your home, it is very difficult to eradicate the problem, often taking up to three months of consistent prevention & cleaning the environment to resolve. Ticks can transmit diseases (see below.)
How can a veterinarian help with flea and tick prevention?
Our veterinarians offer multiple options based on your cat's lifestyle and their potential for exposure. For most comprehensive coverage, our doctors recommend cats receive a combination external & internal parasite preventative once every month.
What are some signs and symptoms of a flea and tick infestation in your cat?
- Skin irritation
- Scabs or flakes
- Excessive grooming
What do fleas and ticks look like?
Fleas can be visible when inspecting the fur closest to the skin on lighter colored cats or by using a flea comb, which traps fleas in between it's closely spaced teeth. Fleas also leave behind "flea dirt," which is dried blood, after they have consumed a blood meal - this is characterized by small dark flecks or flakes.
The ticks you can find on your cat vary in size, from tiny nymphs to engorged adults. Adult ticks that have indulged in a blood meal are the easiest to spot, although sometimes owners can mistake a growth for a tick. Ticks have eight legs like a spider, primarily located around the head/upper quadrant of the body, and are often brown or red in color.
What are some possible diseases that can be transmitted by fleas and ticks?
Ingestion of fleas during grooming can lead to intestinal parasites in your dog. A flea infestation can lead to anemia. The primary diseases passed by ticks are Cytauxzoonosis, Tularemia, Lyme Disease, and Anaplasmosis.
What are the most effective flea and tick treatments for cats?
The flea and tick medications that are available through our office and other veterinarians are incredibly effective; most will start killing fleas & ticks within a few hours! They are also meticulously tested to ensure your kitty's safety.
Most often, over-the-counter flea medication is not as effective as prescription preventatives, as they have not been as rigorously tested and they abide by lesser standards. Over-the-counter preventatives also don't have a manufacturer guarantee in the event that your dog experiences adverse side effects. Prescription-grade flea and tick preventatives are veterinarian-approved and backed by their manufacturers for safety.
What should I do if I find fleas or ticks on my cat?
If you aren't sure, give us a call to confirm whether or not your cat is on flea and tick preventative. Fleas & ticks do need to make contact with your pet before the preventative can kill them off, so it's not unusual to occasionally find a live specimen on your cat. However, if your cat is not protected, your vet may recommend a blood test if you find a tick attached. Fleas proliferate quickly, so your vet may prescribe a preventative to handle an initial infestation and then a long term preventative to be given monthly to keep fleas at bay.
If you have questions regarding fleas and ticks, give us a call. We’re always here for you!