Parasites in cats: how to get rid of fleas and ticks
Parasites are small torturers that feed on the blood of animals such as cats. Besides being very annoying, they can also cause serious diseases. In this article you will find all the information you need to know about parasites in cats, especially fleas and ticks and find the best flea collar for cats.
Ticks on Cats
As soon as the hot season begins and the temperature rises above ten degrees, ticks lurk in the grass. Among the parasites that affect cats, ticks are among the best known. Pussycats that leave the house are one of the favorite victims of these little “bloodsuckers”. But beyond being annoying, ticks can also be dangerous because they transmit diseases such as Lyme disease or babesiosis.
Fortunately, cats are infected with tick-borne pathogens much less often than dogs or people. However, they can trigger disease, especially in kittens with low defenses. In addition, ticks that have infested cats can pass to dogs or people and spread disease.
Tick Control in Cats
The sooner the tick is discovered and removed, the lower the risk of transmission of pathogens through the wound. It is important to act quickly, especially to prevent the spread of Lyme disease. Borrelia burgdirferi bacteria are found in the intestine of ticks and from there they travel to the site of the bite to infect a new host. This process takes at least twelve hours. Therefore, if the tick is infected with Lyme borreliosis and is removed in time, it is usually not possible for the disease to be transmitted.
The best option is to inspect the cat after every walk to check for ticks. Ticks prefer places with thinner skin and less fur, so pay special attention to the head, ears, neck, belly and inner thigh areas. However, it is advisable to thoroughly examine the entire body of the cat. Ticks vary in size depending on the amount of blood they have ingested, so they can be as small as the head of a pin or as large as a cherry stone. As a result, they are sometimes better located and sometimes worse.
How to remove ticks
The easiest way to remove a tick is with the help of a tick remover. These parasites have a mouth that integrates into the skin. Ticks can be removed properly with a special tweezer. Under no circumstances should the ticks be crushed because it is possible that they secrete the contents of their intestine and thus the pathogens, which come into contact with the wound and from there pass into the bloodstream of the cat. It is also crucial to remove the tick completely, because if the head is inserted into the skin it can cause infection.
It is not recommended to use home tick remedies such as oil, glue or nail polish remover. These can also cause the parasite to burst and secrete pathogens into the bite wound.
How to remove a tick:
- Take the tick remover to remove it.
- Place the tweezers as close to the cat’s skin as possible.
- Grasp the head of the tick and gently and evenly pull it out of the bite site.
- Make sure the tick is completely removed.
- Disinfect the wound and check it regularly. If the bite area becomes inflamed you should take the cat to the vet.
- Always keep the tick bite in mind. If your cat shows signs of illness, is down or has a fever, you should take her to the vet.
Once the parasite has been removed, the question remains as to what to do with it. Ticks are very resistant, so many cat owners who have tick infestations use methods such as fire or other aggressive means to protect their pet and themselves. Here’s a simple trick: place the removed tick on a piece of tape and fold it over. This is a safe way to get rid of it.
The danger of ticks, more than the discomfort they cause, is that they can transmit serious diseases. Although cats are rarely infected with them, kittens with a weak immune system are more likely to get sick. These are some of the diseases that can be transmitted by ticks:
- Lyme disease: also known as Lyme borreliosis, it is activated by the Borrelia burgdirferi group of bacteria. They need the parasites (like ticks) to get into the blood of new hosts through the bite and continue to spread.
- Babesiosis is an infectious disease caused by the single-celled parasite Babesia. These can be transmitted through the bite of the Dermacentor reticulatus tick and attack red blood cells.
- Anaplasmosis: it is also an infectious disease produced by bacteria of the genus Anaplasma. In this case they are also transmitted by ticks and attack white blood cells.
How to prevent ticks in cats
Prevention is better than cure, so you should protect your cat in advance from tick bites and the diseases they can transmit. To do this, there are a number of cat antiparasitics that kill ticks or prevent them from becoming firmly attached.
- Pipettes: Cat pipettes are effective for up to four weeks against ticks and other types of parasites. They are applied to the base of the animal’s neck and the substance is absorbed through the skin. Since the cat cannot reach that area of the body, the substance can unfold its full effect.
- Sprays: anti-parasite sprays for cats are very effective against ticks and other parasites. Once applied, they offer up to four weeks of protection.
- Necklaces: deworming necklaces are another alternative to protect your little cat. They are very easy to place around the cat’s neck and are prophylactic against parasites to prevent an infestation by these nasty insects.
In the event of a feline parasitic infestation, only antiparasitics suitable for cats should be used. Antiparasites for dogs usually contain the active agent permethrin, which is harmful to cats and in extreme cases can be fatal.
Fleas in cats
When a cat is itchy, it may be due to the presence of fleas, one of the most well-known parasites. They are not only very annoying, but can also cause diseases.
As a rule, flea infestations are caused by contact with other affected animals. However, it is also common for fleas to settle on fabrics such as carpets, cushions or sofas. Usually, once the adult flea has found a host, it does not usually change to another. It remains permanently on its victim and feeds on their blood. Fleas spread very quickly; females produce about 30 eggs per day. In the case of cats, the eggs are laid and slide down, so they reach the animal’s environment (couch, scraper or floor cracks, among others). Four to twelve days later the larvae of the eggs come out, which feed on the excrement of other fleas and cellular material that fall from the cat. The larvae then develop into pupae, and within a few days new fleas are born, ready to search for hosts. For this reason, it is important to combat not only adult fleas, but also eggs and larvae.
Fleas can be passed on to humans, although each type of flea specializes in a particular host (hence the dog flea or the cat flea, for example). That said, it should be mentioned that these parasites are not very demanding in this respect.
How to identify fleas on cats
It is difficult to recognize a flea with the naked eye because of its small size of just a few millimeters. The main symptom of a flea infestation in cats is itching. This causes the cat to scratch, lick or bite frequently. Because of this, wounds or eczema can occur.
If you have the impression that your cat has fleas, you should inspect it. If you see any specimens, it is clear that your pussy is infested. If you don’t find any, you can find out if your cat has fleas by looking for their droppings.
How to find out if your cat has fleas:
- Place your cat on a smooth surface that is clear enough to recognize flea droppings when they fall from her hair. A good place to do this is a tiled floor or bathtub.
- Comb your cat’s coat thoroughly with a flea comb. If there are any droppings, you’ll notice a kind of small black crumb either on the comb or on the floor.
- Pick up these crumbs with a white handkerchief and moisten it carefully.
- If it is flea excrement, the crumbs will dissolve and red spots will appear on the handkerchief. This is because the droppings are undigested cat blood.
Dangers of fleas
Apart from being uncomfortable, fleas can also be dangerous, as they can cause:
- Anemia: A severe flea infestation can lead to significant blood loss, resulting in anemia.
- Allergy to flea saliva: When biting, the flea secretes saliva, which is responsible for the typical itch, and can cause allergy in some cats.
- Tapeworms: fleas may contain tapeworm eggs. If so, if the cat ingests the flea, the eggs reach the intestine and the tapeworms develop there.
- Hemobartonellosis: also known as feline infectious anemia, is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the Mycoplasma family (Hemobartonella felis). Fleas are transmitters of these bacteria that can damage the red blood cells of the cat.
- Bartonellosis: fleas are the main transmitters of the bacteria of the genus Bartonella. Although these bacteria do not usually cause disease in cats, they can transmit bartonellosis to people through a scratch or if they come into contact with an open wound.