Organisms that live in species or in other species at their host’s expense are not welcome in our homes, but sometimes they come in uninvited. All of these bloodsuckers need hosts to feed on, and cats are easy targets any time of the year. The war between cats and parasites rages on year-round, but parasite infestations are easy to prevent.
We’ll discuss parasite best practices at your cat’s annual wellness exam. The good news is that drugs used to protect against parasites are cheaper than treating the various potential diseases that can be transmitted to your cat. Depending on your cat’s age and lifestyle, we will determine the most effective prevention.
All cats indoors and outdoors should be protected from parasites. The ongoing battle between cats and parasites depends on how these pesky bugs affect our feline friends.
The following external parasites cling to a cat’s hair or skin:
- Fleas – The small jumping parasites suck the blood of all mammals. So if your home is affected, human family members can also be affected. Fleas cause itchy skin, but they can also carry internal parasites, tapeworms, and pathogens into the bloodstream.
- Ticks – Ticks that are home to wooded or grassy areas cling to the legs or belly of a stray cat. Even if your cat doesn’t go outside, ticks can get inside through pant legs or shoes. Serious infections such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain fever are deposited directly into the bloodstream by blood-sucking ticks.
- Mites – These tiny insects live on the skin and cause severe irritation, pain, hair loss, and secondary bacterial infections. Ear mites usually feed on a cat’s ear canal. So, if you see your cat shaking its head or scratching its head and ears excessively, they may need help.
Parasites getting into your cat’s organs can be incredibly dangerous to their health.
- Roundworms – The eggs of these internal parasites migrate through their hosts in water and soil (even packaged in commercial pots) until they reach the intestines. They can grow up to six inches long, causing serious abdominal discomfort and vomiting in cats.
- Tapeworms – Cats that eat prey infected with tapeworms may lose weight or appear lethargic. Take a close look at the litter box for clues about these intestinal worms.
- Hookworms – These intestinal parasites can enter the body through the feet or when a cat eats larvae. Weight loss, anemia, dull fur, and blood in the stool suggest a cat and parasites are fighting it.
- Coccidia – These unicellular organisms are not worms, but they do live in their host’s intestinal lining and cause diarrhea. Cats can ingest these when they eat birds or mice or when they come into contact with the stool of infected animals.
- Heartworm – These terrible worms are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Heartworm disease in cats is untreatable and can be fatal. Therefore, year-round prevention is essential.
Cats and parasites
You can win the war against cat parasites with year-round preventive drugs. The annual screening for parasites should be part of warding off potential infections and infestations.
If you have any questions about cats and parasites, please let us know.