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Tick Infestation and Control in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Tick infestation is the presence and attachment of a tick, a blood sucking parasite. Direct contact with ticks frequently results in tick infestation. In addition, ingestion of ticks can occur when the cat grooms.

Tick infestations are more common in dogs than cats. There is no age or breed predilection, although individuals who spend more time outdoors and who are in direct contact with ticks are more often affected, such as hunting breeds.

Ticks may appear as a small dark speck on your pet's fur, or in an attached, engorged state, may appear as small growths or raisins.

Ticks are important agents of disease transmission. Although not all ticks carry disease, it is important to note that certain ones do. Signs associated with certain tick-borne diseases (borreliosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme and others) vary with the organ system affected.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of tick parasitism is made by examining the skin for the presence of ticks.

Treatment

Ticks should be removed as soon as possible to minimize the amount of pathogen (disease producing organism) transmitted. To do this, grasp the tick close to the skin and pull gently, generally with tweezers, and never with your bare hand.

Tick collars or products applied topically may act to prevent attachment of new ticks and to promote detachment of ticks already attached. Ticks may be killed by spraying, dipping, bathing, or powdering affected individuals with appropriate tick-killing products.

Home Care and Prevention

Administer prescribed or recommended products by your veterinarian. When manually removing an attached tick be careful not to handle the tick directly with bare hands. Use tweezers or commercial available tick removal devices.

Control and prevention of ticks is extremely important. Tick avoidance requires avoiding environments that harbor ticks. In addition, since ticks can be carried unknowingly from one place to another on clothing, it is never impossible for an individual to be affected by a tick. Repellents, such as collars or products applied topically may be of great benefit in controlling/eliminating ticks.

Removal of ticks, either manually or with the aid of baths, dips or sprays, may be necessary in pets that are heavily infested.

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