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Posted on 05-17-2016
Ticks & Cats
“Dr. Dunn, I’m not worried about tick prevention for my cats. Cats don’t get ticks.”
Unfortunately, the belief that cats do not get ticks is wrong, a misconception. Many people believe that cats do not get ticks because they are fastidious about grooming. Actually, cats are very susceptible to ticks. Ticks attach and bury their mouthparts well beneath the skin, and are very difficult to dislodge. The fact that cats do encounter tick infestation also makes them susceptible to tick diseases like Cytauzoanoosis.
Cytauzooanosis is an infection of cats only (domestic and otherwise), and is transmitted by ticks. Cats at greatest risk are outdoor cats living in southcentral and southeastern United States during spring, summer, and fall. The prevalence of infection is unknown, but it is well known to be on the increase. The reservoir host is the bobcat. The bobcat population serves as a carrier host for the pathogen, Cytauzooan. The tick brings the pathogen from bobcat to domestic cat, where the disease is highly fatal.
The infection progresses fairly quickly in the domestic cat. Early symptoms are decreased appetite and very high fever. In my experience, this phase may only last a day or two, and often goes unnoticed by the owner. Sometimes the cat just seems to be sleeping more. Then the cat becomes hypothermic, and often seems to be in significant pain. Crying out in an unusual manner is common. Neurologic symptoms follow, with the cat appearing almost comatose. Death soon follows. Even aggressive therapy is often unsuccessful.
The most important thing you can do is to acknowledge that ticks can be a problem for cats, and then act on it by providing your cat some tick protection. One of the safest and most effective means of protecting your cat from ticks (and fleas) is the Seresto collar. It stays topical, is safe for even kittens, and lasts for 6-8months. To learn more, ask your veterinarian today.
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