Cats are notorious for being fastidious groomers and taking great pride in their appearance and lush hair coat. However, you may notice bare spots, itching, mats, scabs, or bumps on your feline friend if they develop a parasite issue. The best grooming protocol can’t protect your cat from internal and external parasites, which can lead to hair coat and skin issues, as well as more serious illnesses. The best way to keep your furry pal safe from nasty parasites is by administering monthly parasite prevention, often easily carried out with a topical form. First, let’s look more closely at parasites that could be bugging your cat.
What are some of the most common parasites that affect cats?
Like all animals, cats can suffer from a wide variety of parasites, but external parasites, such as fleas and ticks, may be more difficult to detect because of your cat’s grooming. You’ll more likely notice the after-effects of fleas or mange mites, rather than parasites themselves. And, most parasites can be seen only on microscopic examination. Some of the more common parasites that may affect your cat include:
- Fleas — These tiny ectoparasites may seem like they have wings, but they are actually incredibly skilled jumpers. They are also quite hardy, and can survive in their pupal form for months before emerging from their protective cocoon as an adult. This unique feature makes flea infestations difficult to eliminate from your pet and your home.
- Ticks — Many tick species can latch onto your cat and transmit potentially life-threatening diseases, but, contrary to popular belief, ticks don’t fall from trees to attack your cat. Instead, they “quest” for their prey by climbing tall weeds, bushes, and shrubs, waiting to hitch a ride on the next warm meal that brushes by.
- Ear mites — Ear mites are the culprit behind many feline ear infections. These tiny parasites cause intense itching, which can lead to scratching and head shaking severe enough to cause bleeding and an aural hematoma. Cats can also pass their ear mites along to other household pets, especially if they sleep snuggled close.
- Intestinal parasites — Intestinal parasites can be transmitted by eating fleas or rodents, or contacting infective feces and contaminated surfaces or objects. A cat who isn’t protected from intestinal parasites can easily pick up a roundworm, hookworm, or tapeworm infection.
- Heartworms — Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworms are a deadly parasite that lives in your cat’s circulatory system around the heart and lungs. Unfortunately, no treatment is available for feline heartworms, and cats with heartworms can die suddenly.
- Mange mites — Cats are commonly affected by two mange mite types—Demodex and Sarcoptes. Demodectic mange is generally less itchy than sarcoptic mange, but both can cause widespread scratching and hair loss in pets.
With so many unpleasant bloodsucking pests lying in wait to make a meal out of your feline friend, always protect them with year-round parasite prevention.
What’s the difference between sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange in cats?
The mere thought of mange may make you itchy, but not all mange mites are contagious. In fact, you need only be concerned about getting sarcoptic mange from your cat, as demodectic mange is not contagious. The Demodex mite naturally lives on your pet’s skin, but when your cat is stressed or their immune system is weakened, the mite can overpower your cat’s defenses and cause itching, and localized or generalized hair loss. This is the most common mite in young pets.
Sarcoptic mange, which can quickly spread through your household, is incredibly itchy, and can mimic skin allergies in pets. If your cat develops sarcoptic mange, your household members will likely experience an itchy rash that comes and goes, since the Sarcoptes mite cannot live long on humans.
Because these mites can be difficult to detect, a skin scraping must be performed to gather skin cells and hair follicles from your affected cat, and the sample examined under the microscope for mites. The Demodex mite can be elusive, as they burrow deep in the hair follicles, while the Sarcoptes mite tends to live on the skin surface.
How can I protect my cat from internal and external parasites?
Fortunately for cats, parasite prevention, and especially mange treatment, has come a long way. Rather than dunking your mite-infested kitty in a tub of lime sulfur dip, you can simply apply Revolution, a topical parasite prevention product. See how easy mange treatment is for this poor cat suffering from sarcoptic mange in Dr. Man’s video blog. Revolution is a once-monthly, topical parasite preventive that protects your cat from fleas, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, ear mites, and Sarcoptes mites. If your cat also needs tick protection, our veterinarians can help you choose the prevention protocol that will best keep your pet safe.
Despite being largely indoor pets, cats can still stuffer from many parasite issues. Keep your feline friend safe from harm with an appropriate parasite preventive. Contact our Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital team for advice about the best products to shield your cat from nasty parasites.