Vet Blog

How Do Ticks Affect Cats?

June 20, 2018

You have almost certainly heard about ticks affecting dogs, but did you know that these diminutive but nuisance parasites can also affect the felines in your home too?

The myth that ticks don't pose a threat to cats is a very common one, but the fact is that they are less discerning about who they bite than you probably think, and felines can suffer serious consequences from a tick bite too.

Living primarily in areas of parkland, forestation or even just long grasses, ticks lie in wait ready to attach to your feline furbaby when she passes by. The tick will then migrate across her body to an area that is less exposed, and tuck in to an all-you-can-eat blood buffet which provides it with the nutrients it needs to grow and survive. However, if the tick in question has already fed from an animal that is infected with disease, it will then pass the microorganisms containing this condition on to the unwilling host.

How do I know if my cat has a tick?

Ticks may be very small, but if you regularly check her coat, particularly when she comes in from outside, chances are you may spot one or more on her body. They are usually less than 10mm and either round or tear-shaped, swelling as they fill with blood. If you go through her coat with a fine-tooth comb, you will probably find ticks close to areas rich with blood such as her abdomen and the tops of her hind legs.

Tick saliva can be highly irritating, and this may cause your cat to scratch excessively at the site of the tick bite. Symptoms associated with extreme itching such as sore, broken skin, infection and hair loss may also occur in serious cases.

How do I know if my cat has a tick-borne infection?

A tick-borne infection is the term used to describe an infectious disease that is transmitted between animals by a tick. There are many different types of tick that carry a range of infections, each which present with slightly diverse symptoms. Core symptoms tend to include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Aching joints
  • Depression

However, it is often the symptoms that are specific to certain types of tick-borne disease that enable veterinarians to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend an appropriate treatment.

Types of tick-borne disease

There are a number of tick-borne diseases that are known to affect felines. These include but are not limited to:

  • Lyme Disease
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Haemobartonellosis
  • Tularemia
  • Cytauxzoonosis
  • Babesiosis

Treating tick-borne diseases in cats

While treatment is possible for all of the above conditions, prompt diagnosis is essential to secure the best possible outcome for your feline. Once this has been obtained, our vet at Charlotte Animal Hospital will recommend the most appropriate treatment program for your cat. This will almost certainly include a long course of antibiotics, plus your pet may require further supportive therapies.

Preventing ticks from affecting your cat

The good news is that ticks don't have to be a nuisance for you or your cat. There are dozens of preventive treatments currently available, and our Charlotte Animal Hospital veterinarian will be happy to go through these with you in further detail. Types of preventives include collars, spot-on treatments and octal medications.

You should also check her coat thoroughly every day and remove any ticks immediately and safely, disposing of them before they can cause further risk of infection.

If you would like to know more about tick-borne diseases in cats, please contact our veterinary team in Port Charlotte, FL who will be happy to advise you at Charlotte Animal Hospital.