How to prevent ticks and fleas on cats

How to prevent ticks and fleas on cats

Parasitic pests are never nice, especially when they’re bothering your precious pet. Fleas and ticks are two of the more common types that like to invade our kitty’s fur, and leaving them untreated can cause your cat discomfort or even pain. 

The best way to avoid that is to take preventative action to avoid them. That being said, it’s not always possible to stop these little pests, so it’s important to look out for any signs and symptoms that can help you take early action in getting rid of your cat’s ticks and fleas.

Part of that comes down to understanding the difference between the two pests. By knowing which pest is upsetting your kitty, you’ll know the best course of action. 


What’s the difference between fleas and ticks?

Ticks are tiny blood-sucking parasites that can infect the bloodstream with their poisons if not treated. Ticks can lead to paralysis, sickness or death if left untreated. Ticks are prevalent in hot and humid areas, especially in rural or grassy settings throughout the year. 

Fleas, on the other hand, are tiny wingless insects that also bite and feed off their host’s blood. However, they don’t transmit any diseases (at least not in Australia). They’re most active during the warmer months but can survive all year long in houses where there’s a consistent food source (i.e. your pet).


How can I tell if my cat has ticks or fleas?

What does a tick look like on a cat? The easiest way to check for ticks on cats is to run your fingers through your cat’s fur and feel for any bumps. If you find anything, it’s best to use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick by its head, taking care not to crush the body. You can then disinfect the bite area with alcohol or antiseptic wipes.

Fleas on cats are harder to spot as they’re so small, but you might notice your cat scratching more than usual. Part the fur and look for any tiny, dark insects. You might also see ‘flea dirt’, which looks like tiny black specs. This is actually the flea’s droppings and is a tell-tale sign that your cat has these pests.


Symptoms of ticks and fleas on cats

If you’re still unsure whether your cat has ticks or fleas, it’s best to monitor for symptoms, especially if they’ve visited a bushy area recently. The symptoms differ between ticks and fleas on cats, so it’s a good idea to have a general understanding so you can be proactive in helping your furry friend.


Ticks on cats: symptoms

The main sign of ticks on cats involve itchy skin and redness. If the tick is not removed, it can become very painful to your cat and potentially transmit disease. Other common signs to look out for include:

  • Lethargy

  • Weakness

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fever

  • Vomiting / gagging

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Refusing food

  • Unsteadiness or wobbliness that gets progressively worse

Excessive licking of a particular region, unusual scabs, skin irritations, and strange head shaking are other typical symptoms of a tick bite that are generally less severe.

If your cat has been afflicted by a paralysis tick, it could be deadly. If your veterinarian is closed, you can always visit the animal ER. Call your vet first and they'll usually be able to assist you with after-hour care as well as direct you to the closest emergency department.

It's usually a good idea to be prepared for these scenarios, so keeping the contact information for your veterinarian or knowing where the nearest emergency service is can help you take rapid action when required.


Fleas on cats: symptoms

If your cat has fleas, they might be extremely itchy and have red, inflamed skin. This is because flea bites can cause an allergic reaction in some cats. In more serious cases, your cat might develop ‘flea allergy dermatitis’, which is a condition where the skin becomes so irritated that it bleeds. If your cat is scratching a lot, there’s a chance they could damage their skin, which can lead to infection. Other symptoms include

  • Excessive scratching or biting at the skin

  • Visible fleas on the fur or in the environment

  • Red, irritated skin

  • 'Hot spots' or bald patches from overgrooming

How to prevent ticks and fleas on cats

The best way to prevent ticks and fleas is to use a monthly preventative treatment. These come in the form of spot-ons, shampoos, collars, and tablets. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and only use products that are specifically designed for cats, as some dog products can be toxic to your feline friends.

To avoid getting bitten in the future, make certain you inspect your cat on a regular basis and anyone who lives in the same residence as your pet. Ticks may hop from host to host if you don't check them frequently.

There are several cat flea and tick treatments on the market, depending on your cat's size and age. Most treatments require several applications, which range from once every few days to once every twelve weeks. It's essential to maintain a close eye on preventative procedures in the summer months or if your cat likes to hang around bushy areas. 


Removal of ticks and fleas on cats

If you’ve done all you can, and your little kitty has still somehow managed to get fleas or a tick, don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to get rid of them.

How to get rid of ticks on cats

Getting rid of ticks on cats is best done with a pair of tweezers. Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out. Avoid crushing the tick, as this could cause its body fluids to enter your cat’s bloodstream. Once the tick is removed, disinfect the bite site and your hands with rubbing alcohol.

How to get rid of fleas on cats

If your cat has fleas, you’ll need to treat their environment as well as their fur. Start by vacuuming all the carpets and upholstered furniture in your house. Then wash all their bedding, including any blankets or towels, in hot water.

Next, treat your cat’s fur with a flea shampoo or spot-on treatment that is specifically designed for cats. Be sure to follow the product’s instructions carefully. Some treatments require that you reapply them every few weeks to maintain effectiveness.

Finally, discard the vacuum bag after you’re done cleaning to prevent any remaining fleas from hatching and infesting your house again.


Protect your cat from parasitic pests

Protection and prevention from parasitic pests are vital for keeping your cat happy and healthy. Keep your furball friend safe and help them avoid those nasty tick and flea bites by taking preventative measures. 

Scriptly offers an extensive range of premium flea and tick treatments. To discover Australia’s best-known and trusted brands, click here.