What are fleas?
Fleas are an external parasite that can cause severe itching in your pet. Fleas live off of other animals like our cats, taking small frequent blood meals and reproducing at alarming rates.
If you look at the tail base of your cat and work your way up the spine, you may notice little pepper-like grains in his fur, this is known as flea dirt. Generally, if you see flea dirt then your cat has fleas. If your cat spends any time outdoors, then our veterinarians would recommend that he is treated on a monthly basis with a flea preventative.
Ticks don’t seem to be as big of a problem in cats as they are with dogs, but they can certainly get them if they are spending time outdoors in wooded or shaded areas. Because cats are such fastidious groomers, they quite often remove the ticks themselves. Ticks can be as small as the tip of a pen, or as large as a mid-sized grape when engorged. You will want to pay particular attention around the ears, armpits, groin and between the toes. If you find a tick on your cat and need assistance to remove it, then give the clinic a call to schedule a time for a “tick check” with one of our veterinary technicians.
Unfortunately, there are not many tick preventions available for cats, as the medication that is used in tick preventatives can be highly toxic to cats. Currently, the best preventative is to check your cat every time they come in from being outside.
How do fleas harm the cats?
The most common thing pet parents will see when their cat has fleas is consistent and persistent scratching. This scratching can lead to skin irritation and a condition known as flea allergy dermatitis. If the pet is really young or has a heavy burden of fleas, this could lead to anemia (reduction in red blood cells). In severe cases, the anemia can lead to death.
Why is treating and preventing fleas so important?
Not only are fleas itchy and annoying, they can transmit tapeworms, an intestinal parasite to your cat. Severe flea allergy dermatitis can lead to a secondary infection and severe cases of anemia can lead to death.
What are some simple steps for treating fleas in your senior cat?
Contact Park Road Veterinary Clinic to discuss the different flea treatments and preventions available.