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Do Cats Need Tick Prevention?

Posted 11.09.18 by Karen Gant, DVM

Cats can get ticks just like dogs can! You will usually find ticks on cats on their head/neck area since these are places they can not groom.

Even if you have a fenced in yard and only allow your cat limited outdoor time (or none at all!), squirrels, song birds, feral cats, raccoons and other small rodents can be carriers of ticks. You can bring them in your home on clothing, shoes, etc. If you have dogs, they can also bring them inside the house.

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There is one disease unique to felines that is carried by ticks and is very deadly. This  disease is called Cytauxzoonosis (also known as ‘bobcat fever’). This is a protozoal organism transmitted to cats through a tick bite. It is seen in the south central and southeastern US. Bobcats are the presumed reservoir and can become persistent carriers of the organism after developing mild or subclinical infection. Domestic cats show clinical disease 1-3 weeks after infection. Clinical signs are nonspecific and include anorexia (not eating), lethargy, difficulty breathing, jaundice and anemia. The disease course is rapid, and most cats succumb within 1 week of initial clinical illness. Treatment is difficult.

The best way to prevent ticks from getting on your cat is preventing them from going outdoors and using tick prevention year round.

Be sure to ONLY use a tick prevention labeled for cats, as many dog products can be toxic to cats. Talk with your veterinarian for recommended preventions based on your cat’s lifestyle and risk factors.

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