Think your indoor cat is free from the risk of getting parasites? While indoor-only cats are less exposed to the kinds of parasites that are a problem for dogs and outdoor cats, they’re still at some risk. A mostly-indoor cat who spends some time in the garden with you can get parasites, as can an indoor-only cat who is exposed to the family dog who goes outside. Here are some common parasites that can affect your cat…and what you can do about them.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas are the most common external parasite of cats in every part of the world. Besides being annoying, fleas are also the cause of FAD (flea allergy dermatitis) in cats. FAD is thought to be responsible for around 50% of all feline dermatological problems seen by vets. Ticks are also common external parasites. They are second to mosquitoes as carriers of diseases that affect humans.
The key to controlling fleas is to stop them from reproducing. Carpets, furniture, and pet bedding will contain high concentrations of fleas in different stages of development. Vacuum these areas frequently, and wash pet bedding often to reduce the number of developing fleas in your house.
Commonly thought of as a parasite affecting dogs, heartworm has been found in cats in all 50 states, even indoor cats who are exposed to dogs. In fact, the prevalence of heartworm in cats is linked to the number of infected dogs in the area. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes and the parasite resides in the heart and lungs of affected animals.
Heartworm is preventable. Ask your vet about heartworm prevention. Your vet will perform a test to determine if your cat has been exposed or is infected before beginning treatment.
Toxoplasmosa gondii is a small parasite that affects humans, birds, and other animals, but it is only cats that shed it in their feces. Cats can shed the parasite for 7-21 days after their first infection. If your cat is allowed outside, she can get infected with toxoplasmosis if she hunts and eats small animals.
Do your part to help stop the spread of toxoplasmosis by making sure it does not get into the water supply. Don’t flush cat feces down the toilet. Sewage treatment plants may not always kill the toxoplasmosis parasite. Don’t throw cat poop outside either. The parasite can live in the soil and enter the water supply and put people and animals at risk. Put cat feces in a plastic bag in the garbage to ensure it gets proper disposal in a sanitary landfill.
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