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Itchy Pests, Frustrated Pets - Does your cat have parasites?

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When we think of fleas and ticks we think dirty, street and pest. Fleas are very common in cats, ticks not so much, but both like the warm fur of cats and it is possible for them to be present in even the cleanest homes.

Fleas and ticks are easy to prevent, if you do find one on your cat you need to act fast to stop an infestation and the spread of disease.

Prevention is always better than reaction, in this article we’ll see how you get fleas and ticks; what are the signs that you cat has fleas or ticks; best ways to treat them and the best way to prevent them in your cat and your home.

How do you get fleas and ticks?

Your cat can pick up fleas when going outdoors. Even if your cat doesn’t go outside they can still be easily picked up if they share their home with a dog.

Once there are fleas on your cat expect there to be much more in your home. Vets estimate that 5% of fleas are on your cat, the other 95% is in your home.

Ticks and fleas are the Rapunzel's of the parasites.

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They like to crawl onto tall grass or shrubs and wait for their host to walk by and latch themselves on. They are a patient parasite as they can go for a year without feeding...

I wonder if ticks get hangry?

It is much more common for dogs to pick up ticks while walking in the woods or high grass, though outdoor cats can get them in the same way, it is however, much less likely because of the cat’s grooming habits and lifestyle.

The worst a tick can do to your cat is tick infection called cytauxzoonosis, which is often fatal. It is definitely best to keep pests off your pets; the best shield of protection you can offer is through preventative care.

Spot the warning signs

The flea bites your cat’s skin and injects their saliva. This bite causes an allergic reaction and that’s means you might see:

Red irritated skin & little bumps.

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Your cat scratching excessively.

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Scabs and hair loss (Base of tail and neck)

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For every flea you find on your cat, veterinarians estimate that there are 100 more in your home... fleas like human blood too! Some people have a bad reaction to flea bites and will see redness and itching on your skin, especially their legs.

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Checking for fleas and ticks

If you suspect your cat has fleas, the easiest way to check is by combing your cat with a flea comb – a special fine-toothed comb.

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Collect the fleas in a cup of diluted bleach, keep your cat away from the cup.

The neck and around the base of the tail are hot-spots for fleas to hang around. You can also check the belly but beware this area is very sensitive to cats.

Fleas leave droppings that look like bits of grounded pepper along the fur of your cat called flea dirt. Spotting flea dirt is an indicator of a flea infestation.

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You can feel ticks when you pet your cat, and you can see them. They most often attach near the head, neck, ears, or paws. On cats, they're usually found around the ears and eyes. Ticks can carry diseases. If you find a tick on your pet, try to remove it as soon as possible.

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Treatment for fleas is a two pronged approach – removing them from your cat & removing them from your home.

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Speak to your vet when choosing treatment for your cat and follow the application instructions carefully. The options are:

  • Oral Tablets: These are a great choice for both prevention and treatment of fleas, while being safe for both your cat and your family. Oral tablets that treat fleas only last a few days and can only be obtained from your veterinarian.

  • Spot-On Flea Treatments: There are many different spot-on flea treatments with varying effectiveness and different spectrum of use. Ask your veterinarian to help you choose the most effective spot-on flea and tick treatment for your cat.

  • Cat Flea Collars, Powders and Sprays: We do not recommend the use of flea collars, powders or sprays. While these products were the mainstay of flea control in past years, they are more toxic and less effect than the products we currently recommend.

It's essential to also treat your home, as fleas can survive in the environment without a host for many months.

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Flea treatment can easily be done at home, so here's how to do it:

  • Clean bedding regularly and vacuum furniture, floors and skirting boards to help destroy fleas at each stage of their life-cycle.

  • Throw away the dust bag from your vacuum after each use to prevent any flea eggs and larvae from developing.

  • Treat regularly: you may need to treat your pet and home for fleas all year round if your home is heated.

Insect foggers, or bug bombs, kill a lot of fleas at once. They use strong pesticides and are only recommended for severe infestations. You and your pets must leave your home while the fogger works. Follow the directions to know when it's safe to return. It's dangerous to use too many foggers at once or come home too soon.

Only give your pet flea treatment that's been recommended for them, ideally one prescribed by your vet. Products suitable for one species may not be suitable for another. Some dog flea treatments contain permethrin, an insecticide that is safe for dogs but highly toxic to cats.

Safe Ways to Remove Ticks

Ticks on cats are uncommon but if spotted please take your cat to the vet so they can remove it and provide a treatment plan. If you must remove the tick at home, here’s how:

  • Use gloves or tissue to cover your hands.

  • Grasp the tick with tweezers from the side, by its head, close to the skin.

  • Pull straight up. Don't twist.

  • Don't squeeze (or pop!) the bloated belly.

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Wash the bite area and your hands. Mouth parts that remain rarely cause serious problems however, we strongly recommend consulting your veterinarian immediately if your cat has ticks. Although there are various remedies to treat ticks on cats, it is essential to make sure the method you choose is safe, effective and clinically proven.

Ticks on cats cause welts and bruises around the area being fed on. The various methods for treating ticks on cats include:

  • Spot-On Treatments

  • Oral medication

  • Tick Collars


The aim of the game is prevention. Prevention is the best form of cat care. By focusing on prevention instead of reaction it means that you have to do something little often to protect your cat instead of dealing with a huge issue that is affecting your cat’s health.

Things you can do for your cat:

  • Groom your cat regularly

  • Give cats flea and tick spot-on year-round protection – follow veterinary guidelines.

  • Have an annual veterinary health check up and test for tick-transmitted pathogens, especially in regions where pathogens are endemic or emerging.

  • Conduct faecal examinations when you’re cleaning their litter, check for worms at least 4 times during their first year of life, and at least two times per year in adults.

Things you can do to your home:

  • Mow your garden regularly, trim shrubs and keep rubbish covered so it doesn’t attract rodents.

  • Vacuum carpets and rugs often, and mop hardwood floors with detergent.

  • Wash bedding often.

Lilo’s advice to you

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  • Prevention is the best form of care for us.

  • Keep your home clean and we can stay clean.

  • Protect me all year round from fleas and ticks please.

  • Before you put anything on me, you better speak to your vet.

  • If you see one of those pesky bugs on me, act fast cause I don’t want my kingdom being infested.



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