Please find below some useful information on parastites and tips on how to prevent these from causing an issue for your cat!
9 Parasites Your Cat is Susceptible To
Cats are independent animals that like to get into scrapes, mark their territory and explore their environment. As a popular family pet, cats are also loving companions to millions of people, but their natural desire for independence leaves them susceptible to a range of parasites. By being vigilant and spotting the signs of a parasite infection early, you can get the veterinary care needed before things become serious.
The best way to treat these parasitic infections is through the use of preventative medications prescribed by your vet – who will be looking for one of nine parasites your cat is susceptible to:
White worms with cylindrical bodies, roundworms live in the small intestine of cats and feed on the contents of the gut. Cats can become infected from their mother’s milk or by ingesting infected eggs. Cats are particularly susceptible to this parasite due to their primal need to hunt, as rodents and birds also act as hosts. Symptoms of roundworm include diarrhoea, stunted growth, a deteriorating coat and a pot belly. Roundworm is also a potential risk to people if they swallow the eggs.
Tapeworms are long and flat, and their bodies are divided into segments. An adult tapeworm lives in the small intestine of a cat, and it releases its eggs through detached segments of its body. Cats can get a tapeworm after hunting for example by eating infected mice. However, cats can also easily contract tapeworm when they ingest fleas during the grooming process. The symptoms to look out for include diarrhoea and vomiting, and some cats will experience irritation around the anus.
Hookworms can grow up to 16mm in length, and they live in the gut of cats. However, infections in cats are extremely rare in the UK. Hookworm can be contracted through the ingestion of larvae, which can be found in the faeces of dogs and foxes, as well as in small mammals such as mice. Among the symptoms of a hookworm infection are diarrhoea, anaemia and lethargy.
Heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of cats, and they are characterised by their white, thread-like appearance. Although heartworms are not present in the UK or Ireland, they can be picked up during travel abroad. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquito bites, and the symptoms include breathing difficulties, heart failure, high blood pressure and lethargy. In some rare cases a heartworm infection can lead to the death of a cat.
Fleas are wingless insects that grow to about one eighth of an inch in length. They have very large back legs that allow them to jump huge distances, relative to their body size. Fleas feed on the blood of cats, and they can be transferred from other animals and the environment in general. Fleas can cause allergic reactions and transmit bacteria and viruses.
Ticks are small insect-like creatures – but with eight legs rather than six. Generally found in rural areas, ticks lie in wait of animals in deep vegetation. Ticks can pierce the skin of a cat and feed on blood, which can cause reactions around the site of attachment. In kittens, ticks have the potential to cause anaemia and death from blood loss. But perhaps the most prevalent threat related to tick bites is the spread of diseases such as babesiosis and lyme disease.
7. Ear Mites
Ear mites are tiny creatures with eight legs, and they thrive on the surface of the skin in the outer ear canal. Ear mites are transferred between cats through direct contact, and they can cause significant irritation if not treated.
This mite is rare but can affect cats. Some cats will show no signs of skin disease when infected with the demodex mite, but if a cat becomes unwell they can sometimes experience a particularly large infestation which can lead to hair loss and severely inflamed patches of skin.
9. Notoedres Mange Mite
The notoedres mange mite is highly contagious, and it has the potential to spread to humans. An infection is sometimes referred to as ‘mange’ or scabies. Spread through direct contact, these mites can cause inflammation of the skin, redness and severe itchiness. It may cause wrinkling or scaling of your cat’s skin. If left untreated, the notoedres mange mite can cause hair loss, skin disease and a range of bacterial infections.
The best way to treat these parasitic infections is through the use of preventative medications prescribed by your vet. But it is not always easy to manage these treatments when you’re juggling the demands of work and family life. The Bayer Pet Life app was developed to make your life as a cat owner easier. It allows you to store important health information about your cat, details of your local veterinary practice and vital healthcare appointments in one place. You will be reminded of treatment appointments for your cat through on-screen notifications. Check out itsajungle.co.uk/app for more information.
Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Bayer – “It’s a jungle”. The Pet Life app is part of the “It’s a jungle” programme from Bayer, which aims to help you keep your pet parasite free. For more information, please visit – itsajungle.co.uk