External parasites of cats

Although our cat does not have access to the outside, we must not lower our guard in the fight against parasites, since we ourselves could carry them with us and introduce them at home without realizing it.

Fleas and ticks, in addition to bed bugs and lice, are the main external parasites that our cat can suffer from and they are also highly contagious to humans.

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The problem of external parasites

Due to the housing conditions that are currently available in homes, parasites are able to survive practically throughout the year . Fleas and, to a lesser extent, ticks, are the parasites that can most affect our cats, but they can also bite humans and other animals.

The discomfort they cause is not only due to their direct action, but they can transmit other parasites and serious diseases . For all this, regular deworming of our cats is essential, always following the advice of our veterinarian and adapted to the circumstances of the cat.


Fleas on cats

These small insects bite the cat to feed on its blood. Visible to the naked eye, they have a flattened body that allows them to move quickly through hair. They are characterized by their powerful hind legs with which they can make great jumps .

Although the cat in its grooming activities can get rid of them by ingesting them, some manage to survive and bite, especially in areas where the cat itself cannot reach with its mouth.

Although we do not see them, we will suspect their presence if we find a black grit among the fur that corresponds to their excrement. If we wet it we will see that it is digested blood.

The life cycle of fleas

The most important thing in relation to these parasites is to know that part of their life takes place in the environment of our home, which means that, to achieve effective deworming, it is not only enough to deworm the cat.

Flea bites and descends from the animal to lay eggs in bedding, carpets, cracks in the floor, etc . There they develop the immature phases. When they become adults, they will bite the cat, dog and even humans again.

Therefore, each flea that we find should make us think about all those that are growing in the environment and include this in the deworming protocol. It is advisable to frequently wash the beds and other textiles on which the cat rests, vacuum deeply and use dewormers for the environment .

For large infestations there are so-called pumps, which act on all phases of the parasite and offer a residual protective effect without being toxic to mammals.


Dermatitis in kittens due to flea bites

Some cats are sensitive to the saliva of fleas, which means that, just when one bites them, they will develop an allergic reaction that usually manifests itself by pimples, intense itching and scratching or licking in specific areas such as the lumbosacral, abdomen , inner part of the hind legs or neck. Over time wounds and hair loss can appear. The skin, if left unchecked, will thicken and darken.

In addition to this reaction, fleas can transmit other parasites, tapeworms, in addition to bartonellosis, a bacterial disease. In very debilitated animals, a large infestation of fleas can lead to anemia.


Ticks in cats

These arachnid parasites also feed on blood and, like fleas, are capable of affecting humans as well. Common in wooded areas, they can survive crouching for long periods of time until they jump on an animal to feed on.

When they do, they need to insert their head into it to suck, staying fixed. We can see them on the skin as small balls , although some reach considerable sizes, as they gain weight with blood intake. This process usually takes days.

In cats they are located in areas such as behind the ears, where they do not reach in their daily grooming. Females lay eggs in the environment and these undergo four modifications until they become adult ticks.

Its presence in the environment makes it difficult to eradicate but, as it spreads over larger areas than the house, large infestations are less likely, although common with fleas.

Diseases transmitted by ticks

In addition to the annoyance they pose when fixing the animal, if we detect a tick in our cat we must be especially careful when removing it, since if we leave the head inside it could cause inflammation and abscesses.

On the other hand, a tick that remains attached to the cat for a few hours could transmit diseases such as borreliosis, ehrlichiosis, cytauxzoonosis or even bartonellosis, in addition to anemia in important infestations. These diseases are life threatening.


Recommendations for external deworming

Depending on the circumstances of our cat, the veterinarian will recommend the most appropriate external deworming, being able to choose from a variety of products. The periodicity of application of these is usually every 4-6 weeks or even with a shorter time interval in warm months, especially if the cat has access to the outside .

We must know, when choosing, that some of these products, in addition to eliminating adult fleas, are capable of inactivating their eggs, which facilitates environmental control. Regarding ticks, we will find dewormers that need the tick to bite the animal to take effect, while others act as repellants, avoiding this bite.

If we have more than one animal at home, we must deworm all of them at the same time. Seeing small insects on their skin or appreciating that our cat scratches a lot , can be symptoms of parasites.

Antiparasite toxicity

Antiparasitics are safe for cats as long as we use those that are specially formulated for them and following the recommendations of our veterinarian.

Some of the dewormers for dogs contain active ingredients that are toxic to cats . The poisoning , which manifests with neurological symptoms requires urgent veterinary care.


Therefore, we should only use products prescribed by our veterinarian and, if we have dogs, prevent the cat from coming into contact with these toxic dewormers.

Other external parasites

Finally, it should be noted that several mosquitoes are involved in the transmission of diseases such as filaria or heartworm and leishmaniasis. In addition, thelazia, an intraocular worm transmitted by fruit flies, is gaining importance.

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