Do Cats Need Tick Protection

Author: Dr. Juon Abbass

DVM M.Phil (Veterinary sciences)

Can cats get ticks?

Yes, cats can get ticks, especially outdoor cats who spend a lot of time outside and roam in forests and meadows, there is a risk of picking up one or more ticks. The problem with picking up these tiny parasites is that ticks are carriers of pathogens. So tick-borne diseases are one of the major concerns for cat owners. The following questions are often asked by the cat owners:

Can my cat get ticks?

Do ticks transmit diseases to cats?

Do ticks bother the cat?

Why do cats need tick protection?

How can we prevent our cats from getting tick-borne health conditions?

In this article, we are going to discuss these important questions related to ticks-associated complications in cats along with the other interesting facts.

How can my cat get ticks?

This is an interesting and most frequently asked question by the cat owners. There is a number of ways from which your cat can get ticks. Your cat can get ticks from their environment. For instance, your cat may get ticks from the garden or yard, if it is an outdoor cat. On the other hand, if you have livestock (Sheep, goats, cows, etc) around your yard, your cat can easily get ticks. Ticks are frequently found in grassy and woody areas, and since small rodents and other possible host animals live everywhere there, the danger that the cat will pick up a tick is high. With it increase also the risk of tick bite and the transmission of pathogens.

Note: Outdoor cats are at a higher risk of getting ticks as compared to indoor cats. Keep in mind, that indoor cats can also get ticks.

Ticks can be mostly seen around the neck, face, legs, ears and feet of your beloved furry friend.

What diseases can ticks transmit to cats?

Basically, ticks act as the vehicle and carry the disease-causing pathogens in their bodies. They transmit these pathogens to your cat. Fortunately, cats are less likely than dogs to contract tick-borne diseases.

  • Lyme disease
  • Bartonella
  • Anaplasma (Feline granulocytic anaplasmosis)
  • Hemotrophic mycoplasma (feline infectious anemia)

In some cases, the disease can only break out weeks or months after a tick bite. These potential diseases can cause breathing issues, joint damage, heart complications, weight loss, lathery, and blood deficiency in your beloved feline buddy. This is why, being a responsible owner, this is your first duty to keep your furry friend protected from tick infestation.  If you notice any signs in your pet, you should take it to a veterinarian.

Do ticks bother or irritate the cat?

Yes, cats are very clean animals and ticks are perceived as a nuisance and can cause irritation in your cat. You can see your beloved furry friend aggressively scratching at the tick bite site. This aggressive itch leads to hair loss, sores, and serious skin infections that can get your cat in trouble.

Caution: It is your duty to check your cat’s coat regularly. If you find ticks on your cat’s fur, under its legs, or on its neck, remove them immediately.

Why do cats need tick protection?

On the one hand, the tick bothers and irritates the cat and it tries to get rid of the foreign body by scratching and such, and on the other hand, there is a risk that the tick bite will transmit diseases.

To prevent all these tick problems one should take proper precautions. Fortunately, there are lots of tick prevention methods available in the market. An effective tick control and prevention program is very important for the overall health and well-being of your cat.

They help in preventing the infestation and the occurrence of tick-borne health conditions in your beloved cat. If you are unsure what the best methods are then you can always discuss this with your veterinarian.

Tips and Good to Know

  • Ticks look like a tiny spiders on the cats. They may vary in size ranging from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a pea.
  • Ticks can’t fly and jump. They transfer to the host by holding on when the host touches them in their waiting position.
  • After completing their feeding cycle fall off.
  • Ticks remain active throughout the year. However, they are most active throughout the warm month.
  • There are many hundreds of tick species but only a few species frequently cause infections in the cats. Most commonly these are Lone star ticks, long-horned ticks, Brown dog ticks Deer/black-legged ticks.
  • Cats are less susceptible to tick-borne infections as compared to dogs.
  • If you find ticks on your cat’s coat, try to remove them carefully with a tick removal tool.
  • Keep your yard and garden tidy to reduce tick breeding grounds and hiding places.
  • You can discuss the latest tick preventives with your vet and take action accordingly.
  • Do not use tick preventive products meant for dogs in your cat. It may lead to dangerous consequences. In case of any emergency situation, contact your vet immediately.

REFERENCES

Little, S. E., Barrett, A. W., Nagamori, Y., Herrin, B. H., Normile, D., Heaney, K., & Armstrong, R. (2018). Ticks from cats in the United States: patterns of infestation and infection with pathogens. Veterinary parasitology, 257, 15-20.

Dryden, M. W., & Payne, P. A. (2004). Biology and control of ticks infesting dogs and cats in North America. Veterinary therapeutics: research in applied veterinary medicine, 5(2), 139-154.

Saleh, M. N., Allen, K. E., Lineberry, M. W., Little, S. E., & Reichard, M. V. (2021). Ticks infesting dogs and cats in North America: Biology, geographic distribution, and pathogen transmission. Veterinary Parasitology, 294, 109392.

Claerebout, E., Losson, B., Cochez, C., Casaert, S., Dalemans, A. C., De Cat, A., … & Lempereur, L. (2013). Ticks and associated pathogens collected from dogs and cats in Belgium. Parasites & vectors, 6(1), 1-9.

Duplan, F., Davies, S., Filler, S., Abdullah, S., Keyte, S., Newbury, H., … & Tasker, S. (2018). Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Bartonella spp., haemoplasma species and Hepatozoon spp. in ticks infesting cats: a large-scale survey. Parasites & vectors, 11(1), 1-9.

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