Ticks are one of the most common problems faced by both outdoor animals and pets. But there are reliable preventive measures that will help keep the animal free from ticks. After all, these invertebrates can cause very serious harm to the health of a pet, and in order to cure a fluffy pet, the owner needs a lot of effort, time, and money.
It seems to some that if their pets move exclusively around the apartment and do not leave its limits, then they are safe. However, this is a delusion: a tick can attack an animal at home. Moreover, there are several options for how this happens. Cat owners need to know about them to protect their pets.
So, a tick in a cat may appear:
- When the animal is walking on the street. This is especially true for those who take a pet with them to the dacha or take him for a walk on a harness. In nature, where cats run, where and how much they want, it is very easy to pick up the parasite. However, in the city, if the owner takes the pet for a walk, there is a high risk of becoming a victim of a tick even near the house.
- Contact with other animals. If a cat spends all its life in an apartment, but a dog lives with it, which regularly walks on the street, then a dog can also infect a furry friend. In the same way, other cats and a mother-cat – her kittens (and, of course, vice versa) can infect each other.
- From the owner. Yes, yes, the pet owner himself can also pose a threat to the cat, returning home and bringing parasites from the street on his clothes or shoes.
- Through objects that have parasites: bowls, sunbeds, combs, and so on. This can happen if you buy things for your pet from private hands, according to an ad, and not in pet stores.
Tick Bite Danger
By itself, an ordinary tick does not pose a danger to the animal: it drinks a little blood, and the wound from it quickly overgrows. The harm to the pet is caused by portable infections and protozoan parasites that enter the pet’s body directly with a tick bite and adversely affect health.
So, ticks in cats can cause the following diseases:
- Hemobartonellosis is an infectious disease, the characteristic symptoms of which are anemia, lethargy, fatigue, loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat, and breathing. It appears within two weeks after infection. It is not dangerous for humans.
- Theileriosis is an infectious disease that affects internal organs, bone marrow, and red blood cells. It is rare but very dangerous: 5-20 days after infection, it can be fatal. It is harmless to humans.
- Borreliosis, or Lyme disease, is a bacterial disease that is transmitted mainly through the ixodid tick. It is expressed in the loss of appetite, lameness, fever, lethargy. There are cases when the disease is asymptomatic. An infected animal is not dangerous to humans, but the owner can get sick if he is bitten by a tick himself.
- Allergy is a common but still poorly understood disease. The immune system begins to perceive some substances in the body as hostile and promotes the active production of special antibodies – immunoglobulins E, which protect the skin and mucous membranes from external dangers. Therefore, signs of an allergy are rashes, inflammation, redness, itching, nasal discharge, watery eyes. Not transmitted to humans from animals.
- Tularemia is a disease, the main symptoms of which are fever, general weakness, loss of appetite, damage to internal organs, and inflammation of the lymph nodes. If left untreated, it threatens the death of the pet. From a sick animal, it is transmitted to humans.
It so happens that the owner found a tick and removed it from the pet himself. However, if the parasite has already managed to bite the cat, then within 2-3 weeks it can still get sick.
Therefore, during this period, it is very important to continue to monitor the condition of the pet. If you find the following symptoms, you should immediately contact your veterinarian:
- increased body temperature in a pet;
- decreased appetite or even refusal to eat;
- sudden weight loss;
- lethargy, drowsiness, apathy, fatigue;
- cough, shortness of breath;
- the pallor of the mucous membranes (normally they are pink, and with a tick bite they can turn white or gray);
- the yellowness of the skin;
- a pinkish tint of urine and blood in it;
- skin irritation, itching.
Types of Ticks
There are several types of ticks in cats. They need to be known and distinguished in order to understand what is happening to the pet, how to protect it from each specific parasite, and how to help if the cat does get sick.
Ixodid tick. Perhaps the most famous and the first who come to mind when it comes to ticks. They do not belong to insects, as many believe, but to arachnids. And they look like them. They can be brown or dark (almost black) with or without a different pattern on the back. By themselves, ixodid ticks do not exceed 5 mm, but as they become saturated with blood, they can increase almost 3 times – up to 1.5 cm. At the same time, they also change their color: they become lighter and acquire a red, pink, or gray tint. Most often, they get on the animal when walking in parks, fields, or in the forest, but there is a chance to bring it home on clothes or shoes.
Ear mite. Its size is only 0.3-0.5 mm. He has an elongated oval body of a yellowish color. It can only be seen under a microscope. If you look into a cat’s ear, where this parasite has settled, without special equipment, it may seem that it is just dirty. However, when infected with ear mites, the following symptoms also appear:
- the cat behaves restlessly, is nervous;
- the pet is constantly trying to shake something off its head;
- the pet rubs his head against various objects, scratches behind the ear;
- wounds appear in the auricle, and subsequently, suppuration occurs;
- a brown crust appears near the ears. This is the result of dried-up secretions from the ear canal of a cat, mixed with the waste products of parasites.
Subcutaneous tick. This type of tick has an elongated and translucent body and looks more like a worm. It is also small in size – up to 0.2-0.5 mm, so it is impossible to see it with the naked eye. He lives mainly in the hair follicle, sweat, and salivary glands. It is uncommon, safe for humans, and with low invasion and timely treatment, it almost does not harm the health of the pet.
Diseases of Cats Caused by Subcutaneous Tick
Subcutaneous mites in a cat most often cause demodicosis or red scabies. The main symptoms are itching and hair loss. There are 2 forms of this disease. In the first case, ticks affect one specific area of the body, for example, the eyes, ears, or neck. And this is an easier form. In the second variant, the parasites spread throughout the body, and the disease is much more difficult for the animals.
Notoedrosis is another disease that hypodermic mites cause in cats. It is characterized by dermatitis, hair loss, and an itchy scalp.
In otodectosis, mites attack the inside of the ear, causing the animal to have a constant urge to itch.
Sarcoptic mange primarily affects the animal’s face, nose, and forehead. Subsequently, the disease spreads to the entire body. Due to the strongest itching, the pet cannot calm down, and quickly enough it develops nervous and physical exhaustion.
To summarize, the subcutaneous tick in cats manifests itself as follows:
- itching, the cat constantly itches;
- the baldness of the animal in some places;
- the appearance of “demodectic glasses” – hair loss around the eyes;
- hairless areas often turn red and become covered with abscesses;
- the cat begins to smell bad and looks unkempt;
- the animal loses its appetite;
- the pet is losing weight noticeably.
Treatment and Prevention Methods
In order for a pet to remain healthy and happy, each owner must know how to fight ticks and follow all possible preventive measures.
Treatment for ticks in cats is as follows:
- If you suspect a tick infestation, it is best to contact your veterinarian right away. He will be able to correctly extract the parasite, make tests and prescribe the necessary treatment, depending on the degree of the disease of the animal.
- If the owner finds an ixodid tick on the pet’s body, and there is no way to go to the veterinary clinic in the near future, then you should remove it yourself. Important! You can’t just tear off the parasite from the skin: the head of the tick may remain inside, and subsequently, this will lead to inflammation and pain in the animal. It is best to use a special tool that is easy to obtain from your veterinary pharmacy or pet store. In appearance, it resembles a spatula. It is brought under the belly of the tick, placing the neck of the parasite in the slot, and then removing it with rotational movements. The bite site is treated with an antiseptic.
- When infected with an ear mite, special ointments, sprays, and drops are used, which are prescribed by a veterinarian. Before applying the drug, it is recommended to clean the inner ear surface with chlorhexidine or hydrogen peroxide.
- When infected with a subcutaneous mite, they look at the severity of the disease. If it is detected at an early stage, then special ointments will be enough. If the disease is started, then, most likely, the pet will be prescribed injections.
The main preventive measures are as follows:
- Check your pet regularly. In the spring-summer period, when ixodid ticks are most active, it is recommended to do this daily. Most often, parasites choose places behind the ears, in the groin, on the chest, and neck.
- If the animal walks on the street, then you should purchase special drops, a collar, or sprays from ticks and other parasites. Important: each of these funds has its own expiration date, after which, firstly, it is prohibited to use it, and secondly, it simply loses its properties and becomes useless. Therefore, it is imperative to check the expiration date of the drug and buy a new one as needed.
- Monitor the nutrition and general health of the pet, minimize stress so as not to weaken the body’s immune system.
- Learn how to remove ticks and purchase the tools you need.
Every owner can face the appearance of ticks in his pet. And it’s not so scary if you take action in time. To do this, a caring and responsible owner must follow simple recommendations: regularly examine the pet during stroking, monitor changes in its behavior and appearance, and use special preparations during the season of greatest tick activity. And then, in the event of a tick bite, you will be able to quickly help the pet and minimize the consequences of infection.