Do cats get ticks?

Ticks are one of the challenges cat owners have to face. Admittedly, ticks are not common parasites of cats. It is therefore not uncommon for cat owners to believe that there is one less pesky parasite they have to contend with. Tick infestation is rare in cats but it does not mean that the beloved kitty is totally free from tick infestation. Cats can get ticks but the likelihood is lesser if the cat is an indoor-only pet and that the family is living in a relatively tick-free area.

Ticks are arthropods that live on the surface of the cat’s skin and feed on the cat’s blood. Ticks would bury the mouth into the host’s skin and begin the blood meal. Fleas, mites, lice and ticks are the usual external parasites of cats. Tick infestation is not very common as aside from the fact that cats are typically indoor pets, not many ticks can get and would thrive inside the homes. So how would a tick manage to infest a cat? Ticks are usually found in grasslands and in low bushes. Ticks have heat sensors that allow them to seek potential hosts. Once a warm blooded animal pass by in the spot where the ticks lurk they would jump and attach themselves to the fur of animals or to the clothing of humans. The tick in the human’s clothes will be carried inside the house and when the pet is cuddled, the tick would transfer to the cat.

Ticks though are not very common parasites of cats. First off, cats are fastidious groomers. Cats would lick and clean themselves for hours. After attaching themselves to the host, ticks would begin the blood meal. Engorged with blood, the tick’s body would expand. A tick can grow several times its normal size making it easier for the cat to find the location of the parasite. Ticks seldom thrive on short haired cats as they will be removed as soon as they have latched on the cat’s skin. Ticks have a greater chance of surviving on long haired cats. Ticks appear to be cunning parasites as they seldom latch on the cat’s stomach, back, and genital area where they can be easily found when the cat grooms.

Ticks, just like any other parasite, are disgusting. However, a bigger concern of this infestation is the possibility that the parasites would transmit serious diseases to the host. When a tick sucks the blood of the cat, it injects a neurotoxin that damages the cells of the central nervous system. The neurotoxin called Holocyclotoxin causes paralysis in cats. Cytauxzoon, ehrlichia and Lyme disease are other diseases ticks can transmit to cats. Although not all tick bites have the potential to transmit diseases, it would still be necessary to stop the infestation of these nasty critters.

The tick that was attached to the cat’s skin must be removed as soon as possible to prevent the transmission of disease. However, removing the tick can be tricky although ticks, unlike fleas would not scamper away. A tick would embed its head on the cat’s skin. Pulling the body of the tick away can cause the head to be separated and to remain imbedded on the skin. This can result to infection. The best way to remove a tick is to use tweezers. The trick is to hold the tweezers as close to the skin as possible and then pull gently but steadily. Ticks are hardy parasites. The tick that was removed must not be thrown away. It would jump on to another host and can even re-infect the cat. Placing the tick in hot water would certainly kill the parasites. The ticks were removed but it would still be necessary to observe the pet for any symptom of diseases that may have been transmitted to the pet.

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