More Than Itchy: How Fleas and Ticks Can Affect Your Cat

Fleas and Ticks.

No one wants to see their kitties suffering from these nasty blood-suckers, but most pet owners know they're a fact of life. Here in the Gulf South, where it seldom gets cold enough to kill them off, they're a year-round problem. And, unfortunately, they can cause more problems than just itchiness.


cat fleas and ticks

Fleas and Ticks Can Cause:

Skin Irritation -- Some veterinarians say flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the most common skin condition in cats. FAD occurs when your cat has an allergic reaction to flea saliva after being bitten. This type of sensitivity causes incessant itching -- often around the hindquarters, though it can also often be seen on the face and head. Your cat may scratch the same place, often creating bare spots in her coat. Her skin may be red and irritated, or you may even see sores. Unfortunately, it isn't always obvious that fleas are the cause. Depending on the flea life cycle, they may not leave a lot of evidence of their presence behind, other than the skin problems. If your kitty has skin irritation, it's best to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Tapeworms -- Because fleas can carry tapeworms, anytime Kitty swallows a flea (usually during grooming), s/he is at risk for contracting tapeworms. If you see something that looks like grains of rice in Kitty's stool, you know s/he has tapeworms. Luckily, they're not serious and are easily eliminated - just call your veterinarian!

Anemia -- It's easy to forget that fleas drink blood, but they do. And lots of fleas drink lots of blood, leading to blood loss. That blood loss causes anemia (that is, having too few red blood cells). It's most common in kittens, but it can occur in any cat that has a severe enough infestation. In fact, if the anemia is severe enough, death can result!

Tick-borne diseases -- Carried by ticks, Lyme disease is one of the best known tick-borne diseases. It’s actually rare in cats, though your cat could bring in a tick which could be transferred to you. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Cat Scratch Fever can also be transmitted by fleas and ticks and can spread from cats to people. 


Types of Flea and Tick Prevention

All pets are at risk when it comes to fleas and ticks, even indoor cats. Sometimes cat owners think their indoor cats can’t get them, but that’s not true. You can bring fleas and ticks in on your clothes, and, if you have a visiting pet, they could bring the parasites with them. Getting rid of fleas and ticks is harder than preventing them, so it's important to keep your pets current on their preventatives. 

You’d do well to discuss flea and tick prevention strategies and products with your veterinarian, not only because we stay current on the different options, but we also take into account your pet’s lifestyle, age, and other factors in recommending the best produce for you and your cat. 


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