Ticks can transmit pathogens to cats. Even after just one tick bite, a cat can become seriously ill. Unfortunately, ticks lurk almost everywhere and cats are predestined to easily catch one or more ticks because of their behavior. In order to prevent a tick infestation, proper tick defense measures and regular inspection of the fur are some of the tasks of every responsible cat owner.
What Are Ticks
Ticks are small eight-legged blood-sucking parasites. There are eggs, larvae, nymphs,s and adults in their life cycle. Ticks can be seen through the naked eye. There are two types of ticks, hard ticks and soft ticks. Hard ticks have a hard plate called scutum on their back, and soft ticks don’t have a scutum. Normally ticks attach to the host’s body tightly. Another important thing about ticks is, they can survive up to several months and years without food. They become larger and darker after fed with blood. They are more prominent in warmer months. We can see ticks most commonly around the face, neck, ears, legs, and hairy areas of the cat.
How Do Cats Get Ticks?
Cats are hunters. They roam their territory looking for prey. And where there are prey animals, there are ticks because ticks depend on hosts to complete their lifecycles. Ticks sit waiting on low grass, leaf shafts, or branches, often at the tip of the blade of grass or branch, and raise their front legs. When the host comes, they cling to the host by their forelegs and begin looking for a suitable place to bite.
Cats are keen groomers when they have nothing better to do they either sleep or busy grooming. This grooming is normal behavior for cats and helps to keep the fur clean and often also to remove ticks from the fur that have not yet bitten and are logged in. Seeing small ticks in their fur is often difficult, hence the myth that cats don ‘ t have ticks. But if you do see one or two ticks you should remove them immediately. However, if there are a lot of ticks on your cat, it can cause serious problems. In this case, you should take your cat to the veterinarian. Therefore, observation and regular fur checks are essential for outdoor cats.
Usually, long-haired and underfed cats are more likely to infect with ticks.
Signs Of Tick-infested Cat
- Ticks crawling on the fur
- Visible ticks that are stuck in the skin
- Cat itches and scratches all the time
- Infested cats are grooming excessively.
- When parting the hair of the cat, visible red patches and irritated skin or
- Scabs and flaking in the areas of tick bites.
- Small, inflamed areas of the skin
How To Know If My Cat Has Ticks?
Observation is important. It is critical to watch the cat. If the behavior changes and deviates from the normal, then something is wrong.
In the case of unnoticed tick infestation and illness from tick bites, weight loss, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy can result. There are many different symptoms that can indicate whether the cat’s reaction is a simple tick bite or a serious problem as they can transmit and spread these diseases.
In severe infestations, cats show several symptoms like itching, anemic conditions, lethargy, and weakness. In some situations, ticks cause paralysis, and the paralyzed cat show severe tremors.
Direct Effects Of Tick Bite
If a cat is bitten by a single tick, the tick bite itself usually has no serious consequences. There may be a slight local inflammation at the bite site, which usually goes away on its own.
If, however, pathogens should have been transmitted during the bite, then there is a risk that the cat will get sick. If the cat is infested by a very large number of ticks, the blood count can also change.
Another rare effect is tick toxicosis. Engorged female ticks can inject a considerable volume of toxins with saliva into the wound. These toxins can cause severe tremors in cats. This is dangerous because we can’t identify this condition at the early stages. Paralysis doesn’t start until the ticks have been feeding for at least 4 days.
Indirect Effects Of Tick Bite
The indirect effect is disease transmission. The most common diseases transmitted from ticks to cats are Lyme disease, Feline infectious anemia, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia, and Cytauxzoonosis.
Lyme disease – This is the most common tick-borne disease. Deer ticks and Western black-legged ticks transmit Lyme borreliosis. Symptoms that can be observed are lameness, anorexia, swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints, and fever.
Feline Infectious Anaemia – causes anemia, anorexia, sudden fever, and weakness. Vector is a lone star tick
Babesiosis – we can observe dark color urine because of the destruction of red blood cells. Pale color gums can be seen. The vector is the deer tick.
Most Common Ticks In Cats
- Lone star tick
Ambloyomma americanum is known as the lone star tick. There is a silvery-white star-shaped spot on the hard shield called the scutum of the adult female. That is why they are known as lone star tick. Their mouthparts are relatively larger than other ticks.
- American dog tick
It is an oval brown color tick with whitish to grey markings. The basis capituli of this tick is a rectangular shape. This tick is a member of a hard tick family. Dermacentor variabilis is known as the American dog tick, and it causes tick paralysis.
- Deer tick
The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), also known as the black-legged tick, and in some parts of the US as the bear tick is known to be the carrier of Lyme disease. Larvae and nymphs parasitize on small mammals mostly rodents. The adult ticks infest larger mammals, preferably on white-tailed deer, but also on dogs and cats. Humans can also get bitten by them.
- Brown dog tick
The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is also known as the kennel tick. This tick’s primary host is a dog. It bites cats or other warm-blooded animals (including humans) when there are no dogs. . The adult is reddish-brown and easily recognizable as a kennel tick. The species can transmit a variety of diseases to dogs.
- Longhorned tick
This type of tick is originally native to Asia and has only recently appeared in North America. cdc.gov/ticks/pdfs/AsianLonghornedTick-P.pdf
How To Get Rid Of Ticks On Cats?
When your cat infected with one or two ticks, it is easy to remove them by hand. The best approach is to use a special tick hook. With this, you can grip the tick and slowly, but with steady light force pull it out. Be patient and make sure that the tick comes out in one piece. Should something remain in the wound, then its parts of the mouth apparatus. However, the foreign body is usually repelled from the skin within a few days. So take your time and slowly remove the tick. After removing the tick, rub the biting place with a disinfectant. Kill the tick by drowning it in rubbing alcohol.
If there are a lot of ticks and the whole fur is infested then a proper treatment with a dip must be carried out.
There are several products available commercially to treat tick infestations. You should select the appropriate medication wisely. Do not use products that are for dogs. They can often be too strong dosed and may be toxic to cats.
Choosing topical treatments, collars with acaricides, medicated shampoo-like treatments to prevent and treat tick infestations should be done under the supervision and advice of a veterinarian.
How To Prevent Cats Getting Ticks?
Taking a preventive method will help you to save your money and time before it is too late. There is a saying, “prevention is better than cure”. So if you are a responsible cat owner, first take decisions to prevent infestation.
The wisest decision you can take is to make sure your cat does not roam tick-prone areas, but that only works with indoor cats. Cats that roam outside often have a large area and depending on the number of ticks in the area, contact with the parasites can hardly be avoided.
So-called Spot-Ons are particularly effective means of keeping ticks and other ectoparasites under control. Easy to use, with the help of a small pipette, and is usually applied directly to the cat’s neck skin once a month. The active ingredients in Spot-Ons act on contact, which means that the parasites die within a very short time when they crawl around on the cat’s fur. Preparations such as Frontline or Seresto are highly effective, you can get them from the vet or in a pet shop.
Spot-Ons are chemical preparations and in rare cases have side effects. As a pet owner, you have to consider whether there are so many ticks that it is necessary to use them on cats. Never use products made for dogs on cats, because they could be too strong. Use ONLY products specially designed for cats and apply exactly as instructed.
If your cat gets severely infected with ticks, definitely you must take your cat to your veterinarian. Because in heavy infestation, the cat not only needs medicines, further treatment, for example, to treat anemia and dehydration, may be required. Here only the vet knows what is best to do.
Besides the fact that ticks can infect cats with dangerous diseases, parasites weaken your pet’s immune system making them more susceptible to other diseases. If you want to avoid complications and additional expenses treating your pet, it is essential to take care of your cat’s tick infestation promptly. Of course, preventive measures are even better so that tick bites do not even happen. In any case, if you are not sure how to deal with the situation, do not hesitate to consult a veterinarian if necessary and get help from a specialist.