External Parasites in Cats

External parasites in cats may affect the eyes, ears and the skin. While fleas are the external parasites that are most frequently seen in felines, there are also other parasites that may cause health problems including mites, lice or ticks. External parasites may cause discomfort, anemia, allergies or may also carry various diseases that can be transmitted when the parasites bite the pet.

Fleas on Cats

The fleas are insects from the Siphonaptera order. The fleas don’t have wings, but may jump and feed on the cat’s blood. The fleas are species specific, which means that cats may be affected only by cat fleas, also known as Ctenocephalides felis. Fleas reproduce quickly and have a complex life cycle, so they can be problematic to eliminate. Fleas may cause various problems in felines:

  • Can cause skin itchiness and irritation, as they bite
  • Cause allergies in more sensitive pets
  • Cause anemia, especially in kittens, as they feed on blood
  • If swallowed, fleas can cause the occurrence of intestinal worms such as the tapeworm, as fleas may carry worm larvae
  • Secondary skin infections are also common in cats with fleas, due to the weakened immunity and the fact that the cat scratches his skin and there are various bacteria or infectious agents under the nails

There are several flea treatments, which aim at eliminating the parasites and relieving the cat’s discomfort. When administering flea treatment, the cat’s environment needs to be cleaned and disinfected, as the fleas may leave eggs behind and this could lead to a new infestation. There are also flea preventive solutions, which you can apply in your pet.

Cats and Mites

Mites that affect felines can fall in 2 categories:

  • Demodex mites, causing the demodectic mange and hair loss and itchiness
  • Sarcops mites, leading to sarcoptic mange, a condition that may be transmitted to humans as well

Feline mange can be treated with topical solutions that contain steroids or antibiotics, if secondary infections occur. Demodectic mange may go away without treatment, but vets recommend applying some solutions to relive the pet’s discomfort.

Ticks on Cats

Ticks, along with mites, belong to the family of insects known as Ixodoidea. There are several types of ticks, which inhabit various regions. The main problem with ticks is that they carry diseases such as:

  • The lyme disease
  • Babesiosis
  • The Rocky Mountain Spotted fever
  • Ehrlichiosis

These insects may also cause tick paralysis and severe allergic reactions in weaker felines. Ticks should be removed within 4 hours of entering the cat’s skin, to prevent the release of toxins in the blood flow. Tweezers can be used to remove the parasite and the area should be disinfected. There are tick collars or sprays that you can use to prevent tick bites.

Cats and Lice

Lice are insects from the Phthiraptera order and affect cats less frequently, but they may be seen in pets that lack proper hygiene or are exposed to various environments with lice.

Lice and lice eggs can be eradicated if using suitable insecticides.