The Dangers of Fleas and Ticks for Cats
Of all the pesky nuisances out there your cat might face, fleas and ticks are two of the most troublesome. For cats, fleas and ticks pose a variety of potential health issues, including:
- Skin irritation
- Rashes and skin infections
- Transmission of disease and illness
- Stress, anxiety, and effects on their wellbeing
Another danger of fleas and ticks for cats is infestation of the home and possible transmission of disease to humans through sharing a living space. Many people believe that indoor cats are somehow immune to fleas and ticks, but this is not true. Fleas and ticks can enter homes on visiting pets and people's clothes. Fleas and ticks will seek out your cat to feed and live. Once a flea is on your cat, it stays and will produce 30-50 eggs within 24 hours. These eggs are the consistency of sand and will fall off the cat, land in the carpet or bedding, and become an adult flea in 14 to 365 days depending upon the environmental conditions. It is easy to understand how the house can become quickly infested with fleas.
Depending upon the stage of the tick (eggs, larvae, nymph, or adult), it will feed and either climb off the cat for the next molt (molting is how ticks move from one stage of development into the next stage) or if at adult stage, the tick will produce eggs that can contaminate the house. Ticks primarily transmit disease in the nymph and adult stages. Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Erlichia are just a few of the diseases transmitted by ticks. The plague, cat scratch fever, and tapeworms can be transmitted by fleas.
This is why flea and tick prevention is important for every cat. Prevention helps reduce the risk of exposure to both your cat and your home.
Flea and Tick Prevention for Cats
At Cat Care Center of Baton Rouge, when it comes to fleas and ticks, our primary focus is on prevention. Prevention is important because it stops a serious problem before it starts. If you are starting to notice signs and symptoms of fleas and ticks, that indicates that you are already dealing with an infestation. It is best to not reach that stage. With good education and the right prevention products you can easily avoid any flea and tick infestations.
A proactive approach to flea and tick prevention starts with a discussion about various factors that play a role in your pet's potential exposure to fleas and ticks. For example, if your cats are indoor/outdoor is a factor, as well as whether they are exposed to other animals that go outside (including pets of friends or family that may come over for a visit).
It is important to be aware that there are numerous products on the market that our veterinarians would strongly suggest you avoid. Every year, our veterinarian reviews all available flea and tick products to ensure that our recommendations are as up-to-date as possible. Our considerations include safety, effectiveness, and cost. Based on these factors we will work with you to customize a parasite prevention plan for your pets and family.
Signs That Your Cat May Have a Flea or Tick Infestation
- Visible fleas or ticks
- Red or irritated skin
- Scabs and/or flakes
- Excessive grooming
- Small, flat worms noticed in their stool, around the rectal area, or in the litter box (tapeworms)
Common Cat Flea and Tick Treatments
There are many different cat flea treatment products on the market. This includes a plethora of remedies involving substances that have no medical validity where fleas and ticks for cats are concerned. Of most concern to us is the toxicity associated with these over the counter products. Cats are extremely sensitive to many insecticides, and often these can be fatal. Dr. Lacie strongly recommends against numerous over the counter flea and tick treatments. Please consult with a veterinarian before you give or apply any flea or tick product to your cat! We can't stress this enough. Some common cat flea treatment methods include:
- Spot-On Flea Treatments: There are many different spot-on flea treatments with varying effectiveness and different spectrums of use. At your next veterinary appointment, we will help you choose the most effective and safe spot-on flea and tick treatment for your cat.
- Cat Flea Collars, Powders, and Sprays: We do not recommend the use of flea collars, powders, or sprays. While these products were the mainstay of flea control in past years, they are more toxic and less effective than the products we currently recommend.
- Oral products: In an individual cat, there may be instances were oral products are best. Our veterinarian will discuss this with you and prescribe the best product for your cat.
We choose products based upon safety and efficacy. However, as with any new medication or product, there is a possibility of adverse reactions. If you notice any discomfort or behavioral changes after administering or applying, please call us at: (225) 228-1039. It is essential to discuss cat flea treatment options with your veterinarian in order to ensure the method you choose will be safe and effective for your feline friend.
Remember, dog products are not to be used on cats, so please make sure you are using a product specifically made for cats under the supervision of your veterinarian.
Finding and Treating Ticks on Cats
Ticks on cats are not as common as ticks on dogs because of cats' grooming habits and lifestyle. However, cats can get ticks and they can become a health issue if left untreated. Ticks feed on the blood of the host and use tiny but sharp teeth to embed themselves firmly into the skin and soft tissue of cats. Because they penetrate into the bloodstream, ticks can also spread blood-borne illnesses. We recommend tick products for cats on a case-by-case basis.
Ticks on cats cause welts and bruises around the area being fed on. It is also common to find the tick still attached. If you find a tick on your cat, please bring your cat in so we can show you the safest way to remove the tick and help formulate a plan to avoid ticks going forward. The various methods for treating ticks on cats include:
- Spot-On Treatments
- Oral Medication
- Tick Collars (Again, consult with a veterinarian before ever applying a tick collar to your cat!)
We strongly recommend consulting your veterinarian immediately if your cat has ticks. Although there are various remedies to treat ticks on cats, it is essential to make sure the method you choose is safe, effective, and clinically proven.
What You Should Know About Cat Flea Prevention/Treatment
There are many different remedies and methods out there for treating fleas and ticks on cats, and there are also various over-the-counter cat flea medicine options on the market today. The rapid influx of so many untested cat flea medicine brands in the early 2000's, and specifically spot-on treatments, led the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a warning in 2010 about possible toxic reactions to cat flea medicine. This resulted from an increase in cat fatalities attributed to the inappropriate use of some products.
Schedule an Appointment to Properly Address Cat Fleas and Ticks
To ensure that your cat is protected against these pesky parasites, schedule an appointment with our veterinarian as soon as possible. Our veterinarian and support staff have extensive experience in both prevention and treatment, and we are here to help.