How Prevalent Is Tick-borne Disease In Cats?

Analysis of Cat Infestations

Every year around 10,000 domestic animals are treated for tick paralysis in Australia which is majorly caused by the species Ixodes holocyclus. A broad range of animals that are predominantly affected by these ticks includes dogs, cats, cattle, sheep and other native animals. Ixodes cornuatus is another tick species that is majorly present in southern Australia. Though dogs definitely get affected in the majority, the cat’s contribution to the spread of tick-borne diseases remains overlooked.

In a study, it was revealed that cats that aren’t neutered and live in rural areas are at higher risk of contracting the infestation and becoming the carrier of tick-borne diseases. Observations were undertaken for the examination of outdoor cats also suggested a greater risk of tick infestation in cats that stayed outdoors throughout the year than indoor cats. Different seasons also marked variation in the tick activities with summers and autumn virtually being the most vulnerable of them all.

If facts are to be believed, Ixodes spp that causes Lyme disease in pets was identified in most of the outdoor cats. Borrelia spp was another major species that was found responsible for the transmission of diseases like Babesiosis in the cats examined.

As an inference, cats were detected as the secondary source of tick infestation in Australia, after dogs. Since cats have major prevalence and reach to the tick-infested places they can consequently bring the disease in the households as well. Thus, prevention and learning to figure out infestation symptoms in cats is the primary requirement to deal with tick-associated diseases.

Tick Symptoms in Cats  

  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation
  • Weakness
  • Paralysis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Poor reflexes
  • Breathing issues
  • Excessive drooling
  • Fast heart rate

Though cats generally groom themselves thoroughly and don’t leave scope for ticks to transmit the pathogen that easily but at times they could be missed. And a single tick that is infected is enough to spread the disease. Hence, learning the signs is extremely important in cats, more so, because they are extremely adept at hiding their illness.

Consequences of cats having tick infection

Cats that have tick infestation can cause

  • Transmission of Tick-borne disease to owner
  • Transmission of ticks to other pets
  • Infestation of the household

Prevention of Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases In Cats

Though cats are good groomers and they don’t really let anything to latch on their coat, sometimes ticks could be hard to dislodge when they have dug deep into the skin. It is thus important to regularly check your cat for ticks, especially, when she returns from outdoors.

All the ticks must be removed carefully as squeezing or squashing can actually cause ticks to vomit inside the cat’s skin which may again transfer the infection to the body. You must therefore just pull the tick gently up with the tweezers and flush it out directly.

For preventing the cat against tick-borne diseases it is, however, necessary to take measures in advance. Here are the methods to consider –

Use of Preventatives

Preventatives make the task of controlling ticks way easier. There are umpteen products in the market that are specifically formulated to treat fleas and ticks in cats and have different modes of administration as per the suitability of the animal. Topical solutions especially are easy to apply and the best way to get rid of ticks. However, pet parents can also go with oral treatments if they feel topical are a little greasy. Also, you have to quarantine your pet until the solution dries up completely.

Tick Shampoos and Conditioners

Tick shampoos are highly effective in controlling tick infestations in pets. They contain tick killing ingredients which when coming in contact with the parasites, starts causing hyperactivity in their nervous system which eventually kills the critter.  Conditioners are an add-on to the effect and work until a few hours to repel ticks. So, every time you bathe your cat, use tick shampoos.

Tick Collars

Tick collar is just like any other normal cat collar but is infused with chemicals that distribute itself on the skin of the pet and kills the latched ticks. It also repels ticks from nearing the pet thus it is one of the best gadgets to use. Because obviously, you cannot stop your cat from roaming in the neighborhood.

House Treatment

Keeping the house clean and vacuumed facilitates the elimination of ticks. Beds, upholstery, carpets, and clothes must be cleaned every week. Other than that, proper hygiene must be maintained and the house must be treated with flea and tick sprays.

Lawn Treatment 

The lawn is one part of the house where ticks can breed easily because of the damp soil and filth. Heavy growth of plants also facilitates tick occurrences. Thus it is important that the grass must be cut short and the leaf piles must be regularly removed. Filth entices rodents and rodents carry ticks. So, in order to remove ticks, one must also keep the lawn rodent-free. The cleaner your lawn will be, the lesser will it be attractive to parasites and rodents.