Ticks and fleas in cats: prevention, treatment and other issues

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 19.10.2021

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The veterinarian answers the common questions of the owners of animals about fleas and ticks in cats.

With a few exceptions, in Ukraine fleas and ticks are a common problem concerning us and our cats. Therefore, we turned to the international expert on fleas and ticks Michael Dryden (Michael Dryden) to learn how to deal with fleas and get rid of ticks. Dryden has a doctorate in veterinary parasitology, he is a founding member of the Council for the Study of Pet Parasites. Dryden conducted research on almost all of the essential means of fleas and ticks that are on sale.

Q: How do I know if a cat has fleas or ticks?

Answer: Swipe it by hand, divide the hair into the parting and see. To find out if there are mites in the cat, you need to look at the area of the ears and eyes. As for fleas, it's easiest to turn it around and look at the belly. Look for fleas or products of their vital activity, usually this dried up blood, which fleas defecate.

Q: Can my cat get sick due to fleas and ticks?

A: Perhaps the most common problem is that when these fleas feed, they inject saliva into the skin. Proteins of saliva are often allergenic, and the animals develop an allergy. The most common skin disease of dogs and cats is the so-called allergic dermatitis caused by fleas. Animals bite and scratch the affected area, their hair falls out.

If there are many fleas, since these are blood-sucking insects, the animals can develop anemia and they can even die from severe parasite infection, especially if you have kittens. Fleas also often carry helminths to our animals, at least one species.

Currently, cat mites are different from mites dogs. Some diseases suffer from dogs, but not cats. For example, cats do not become infected with Lyme disease. They become infected with ticks, but this does not cause disease. But they can get infected with anaplasmosis. Cats are not uncommon. Cats can get tularemia. I think they can get the spotted fever of the Rockies. They also suffer from a blood disease caused by the Cytauxzoon felis parasite, this is a fatal disease. This is a feline blood-parasite, which occurs from central Kansas almost to the city of Jacksonville, Florida. In some areas, it is rare enough, but in others it is very common. Effective treatment does not exist.

Q: Are ticks and fleas more common in some areas than in others? Where?

A: Ticks and fleas may occur more often depending on the area, and their number may vary depending on the season or year to year. There is a certain predominant type of flea that is found in dogs and cats in North America. This is Ctenocephalides felis or flea feline. The first determining factor influencing the number of fleas is humidity. So, why is there more fleas in Tampa, Florida than in Kansas City? Why are fleas in Kansas City bigger than in Denver? It depends on the humidity. For example, in states in the Rocky Mountains, or even in the western regions of the plains, ticks and fleas in dogs and cats are not such a big problem, because it's just too dry here. The area of the Gulf Coast of North America and the south-eastern region - in these places fleas prevail. Nevertheless, as we move into the country, depending on the amount of precipitation in this area, their number may be small or vice versa.

Of course, ticks have different nature and behavior. And there are different areas where there are more problems with ticks than any others. In North America, there are very few places where you will not find ticks, because there are so many different ticks. But definitely in some areas the situation is worse.

Q: Can cats get heart helminths?

A: Of course, yes. Undoubtedly. And cats can die from this. Dogs become infected with cardiac helminths much more often than cats. But if the cats still get infected, it can be fatal. I really believe that cardiac helminth in cats causes more mortality than dogs. There is no effective treatment of cardiac helminths in cats. All we can do is try to treat the symptoms, control the disease until the helminths die. There are preventive remedies for cats, as for dogs. If you give the cat such a remedy, it will prevent infection with cardiac worms. If you use it, when the cat has helminths, it will prevent the appearance of new ones, while you wait for the helminths to die. Some of them can live in a cat for up to four years.

Q: Can I stop using preventive drugs in the winter months when there are no fleas, ticks and mosquitoes?

Oh no. I believe that in most of the United States, the use of prophylactic drugs should continue throughout the year. There are a few limited exceptions, so you can not say so. Let's look at an example. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, there is no need to treat a cat or dog against fleas or ticks. This makes no sense. But in Atlanta it is necessary. It is necessary to take into account specific climatic conditions in specific climatic regions and make a decision.

Q: One environmental group filed a complaint with several pet stores and manufacturers, stating that in flea collars there is a large concentration of chemicals that are harmful to animals and humans. Are these collars safe from the counter?

A: I'm not a toxicologist and try to stay away from all this. But I will say that I believe that the best way to deal with fleas and ticks is to go to the veterinarian and find out how the products he recommends use in your area. Many products from the counter contain pyrethroids or synthetic pyrethrins. We know that this is a class of insecticides to which fleas are usually resistant. Thus, one of the reasons why the products from the counter is not very effective is that the fleas are resistant to it. This leads to the fact that people use them excessively, because they did not act properly, and then problems appear.

Q: It was also reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency is investigating an increase in the number of adverse reactions to products from flea topicals that we usually apply to the cat between the shoulder blades. Does this mean that they are not safe?

A: Based on my experience and our research in this field, I generally think that the products we receive from our veterinarians are generally very safe and effective. But you must understand that millions of doses are used every year. With so many doses, it happens differently. Are there rare allergic reactions? Undoubtedly. We know that they happen. But in general, if a product from fleas or ticks is recommended or prescribed by a veterinarian, if it is used in accordance with the instructions on the label, I can say from my experience, it is extremely safe. I'm a vet, I love dogs and cats, and I would have no doubt whether to apply such products to their animals.

Q: Is it possible to use for cats products from claws and fleas destined for dogs?

A: There are products that suit both dogs and cats. There are also products that can not be used for cats, because they can be very harmful. They can cause illness or even kill a cat. Cats are much more sensitive to some of these foods than dogs, so you need to be very careful in choosing the right product. The dose is based on weight, so the dose for the Great Dane does not fit the cat. Sadly, this happens. People do it. And ultimately have a sick or dead animal.

Q: Are there any natural ways with which you can control fleas and ticks if I do not want to use chemicals?

A: From the point of view of naturalness, in fact, no. For many years we have been looking for more natural approaches, but I have not yet discovered such tools that are really effective. Garlic, beer trembles - all studies show that all this is ineffective. If it was effective, I would apply them. Ultrasonic devices? The data show that they are not effective.

And the fact that the product is "natural" or "organic" does not mean that it is safe. Most poisons in the world are in fact organic poisons. Lemon extracts that people used can be quite toxic to cats. The liver of the cat simply can not cope with them. With cats, I would be much more cautious, simply because they are much more sensitive to certain substances.

Q: How can I control fleas and ticks in the house and yard?

A: Cut the tall grass, cut the bushes and shrubs, then remove all the fallen leaves from under the bushes. Leave a clean ground. At these stages in the life of arachnids, there is nothing worse than dryness.

There are insecticides for orchards and lawns approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which can be used under bushes, bushes, on technical floors, along fences to control the reproduction of fleas and ticks outside the home. It is very important - people often spray grass. This is not effective and definitely not good for the environment. Fleas and ticks are actually sensitive to sunlight and humidity. In most cases, we find them under bushes, bushes, under the porch, in shaded, sheltered places. Therefore, the use of such substances should be restricted to these places only. Then it is necessary that the foliage dry for 3 to 4 hours before allowing the animals or children to be there.

Q: How can I control the fleas at home?

A: If you have a carpet, clean it regularly with a rotating brush or a punch. This very effectively reduces the number of fleas in homes. Weekly wash the litter of the animal to break the life cycle of insects. Cleaning the carpet with steam can also reduce the problem. If you have solid wood floors, wash the floor with a detergent weekly.

Translation Disclaimer: The original language of this article is Russian. For the convenience of users of the iLive portal who do not speak Russian, this article has been translated into the current language, but has not yet been verified by a native speaker who has the necessary qualifications for this. In this regard, we warn you that the translation of this article may be incorrect, may contain lexical, syntactic and grammatical errors.

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