In the height of summer, you are likely already familiar with tick prevention for your dog, as many anti-parasitic medications are administered to dogs through the summer months.
. . . But what about tick prevention for cats? This blog post will address common questions about tick prevention in cats.
How do cats pick up ticks?
Ticks are found in woodland areas or areas with high grasses. In order to mature, ticks must feed on blood. Ticks are attracted to the warmth and movement of your cat passing through the grasses and foliage in these woodland areas, and reach out to climb onto your cat as they pass by. The ticks travel towards your cat’s skin, burying their heads into the skin under the arms or legs, around the face, behind the ears, or near the paws. Ticks can be active in temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius, and are common in the spring and summer.
Tick Prevention in Cats
Keeping cats indoors or supervised outdoors in your backyard, provided that the grass is regularly cut and maintained to limit the presence of ticks, is key to tick prevention. Examining the cat down to the skin while grooming or cuddling with your cat will help you to spot and remove ticks before they are attached for a long period of time.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has released a video describing the best method to remove a tick: taking a pair of tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling out straight until the tick releases.
Products such as the Tick Twister are also effective for tick removal, but this tool is used with a twisting motion as illustrated in the diagram to the left.
In Canada, only Bravecto is licensed for use in cats as a tick preventative, as prescribed by a veterinarian.
Bravecto is a topical solution that is applied directly to the cat’s skin, and is indicated for control of Dermacentor variabilis (American dog tick) and Ixodes scapularis (black-legged tick), which are both present in Ontario.
This chart available through the Ontario Animal Health Network outlines available anti-parasitics for cats and dogs in Canada and their uses.
Are there over-the-counter tick products for cats?
While many pet stores stock products from Hartz and Zodiac including flea and tick collars and topical solutions, these products are not recommended. The anti-parasitic agent in these products, a group of chemicals known as pyrethrins or permethrins, are extremely toxic to cats, producing neurological signs like dullness, tremors and possible death. Products that are safe for dogs are often not safe for cats, and most toxicities occur when owners accidentally apply products intended for dogs to cats. If you accidentally apply one of these products to your cat, immediately wash it from your cat’s skin and fur and contact your veterinarian to take further measures to eliminate the drug from your cat’s system.
Are there any diseases transmitted by ticks to cats?
While the incidence for disease transmission from ticks to cats is low in Ontario, ticks pose a risk for generalized infection and anemia. Thankfully, cats are highly resistant to Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria carried by the black-legged tick. Other diseases such as cytauxzoonosis are extremely rare in Canada, but with the changing climate, ticks that were not previously seen in Canada have slowly been moving farther north.
If ticks are a concern for your cat, please call one of our locations to order tick prevention!