PARASITES AND YOUR CAT
Choosing to provide monthly parasite protection from your cat is a wise choice for the health of your pet, your family and your community as a whole.
We regularly test for internal parasites during our preventive health exams and we see cats with parasites regularly.
We strongly encourage everyone to properly protect their cat from parasites. It is not just to protect them, but to protect you and your family as many are easily transferable to humans.
Below we will outline the main parasites we see in Richmond.
Fleas are tiny, wingless insects that feed on mammals, including cats and people. Fleabites can make your cat so miserable that they bite and scratch themselves raw. Alerergic reactions are common. It is essential to get rid of them as quicly as possible, before their population grows. In Richmond, it just doesn’t get cold enough to kill fleas. What was once thought of as a seasonal issue is not the case here at home in Richmond. Fleas are a year-round problem here.
Roundworms are the most common of the parasitic worms found in a cat. Almost all cats become infected with them at some time in their lives, usually as kittens. Roundworms may be contracted in different ways, making them easy to spread and hard to control. Your cat may ingest eggs from their environment; inside and outside. They are so prevelent in our environment that they can be brought indoors on the soles of shoes or even in potting soil for indoor plants. Infection in kittens may also occur through their mother’s milk. They are an extremely common parasite and can pose a significant risk to humans, especially preganant women, children and those with compromised immune systems.
Larvae (young hookworms) that hatch from hookworm eggs live in the soil and can infect your cat directly through their skin or feet and also by being ingested during your cat’s routine licking (cleaning.)
Tapeworms are ingested by your cat via a host that is harboring a tapeworm egg. This is usually an adult flea or rodents.
Yes, cats can get ticks too. There are about 15 species of ticks in North America, but only a few of these species are likely to be encountered by your cat. Ticks wait for host animals on the tips of grasses and shrubs. When the plant is brushed by an animal or person, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host.
Heartworms represent an increasingly recognized problem in cats. As in dogs, heartworms are transmitted by feeding mosquitoes and, once mature, end up in the heart and the large vessels of the lungs. For cats, the likelihood of heartworm infection is directly related to the number of infected dogs in the area.
While infection rates in cats (not the typical host for heartworms) are lower than in dogs, studies have shown that up 10-14% of shelter cats are infected. Because mosquitoes can transmit the disease, being an indoor-only cat does not prevent a cat from getting infected.