How To Prevent Your Cat From Getting Parasites
Keep your cat safe 💖
At best, parasites are mildly irritating. And at worst, they can cause major issues or even be life-threatening.
That’s why parasite prevention is so important for cats. After all, keeping your pet from getting infected in the first place is the most effective way to keep him safe.
The Dodo spoke with Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, to learn all about the best ways to prevent parasites in cats.
Types of parasites in cats
There are a couple different types of parasites in cats, and most of them aren’t going to cause a huge problem for your pet if he’s an adult and healthy otherwise.
“Most of the infections with these parasites are not severe but can be easily cured,” Dr. Burch told The Dodo. “However, young cats, immunocompromised cats or [cats who] are not evaluated for treatment can develop life-threatening complications.”
Two types of parasites your cat can have are:
- Intestinal parasites
- External parasites
Intestinal parasites in cats
Intestinal parasites are ones that, like the name suggests, affect your cat’s gastrointestinal system.
There are several intestinal parasites your cat can get, like:
Most cats don’t actually show major symptoms from intestinal parasites unless they’re young or have immune system issues.
“Young kittens who have intestinal parasites can experience severe diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration,” Dr. Burch said. “Dehydration can be life-threatening to kittens when not corrected.”
External parasites in cats
External parasites are ones that affect the outer parts of your cat’s body, like his skin and his hair.
Some external parasites in cats are:
Fleas are usually an itchy annoyance, but can sometimes give your cat tapeworms or cause other issues.
“Severe flea infestations in cats can cause anemia in an individual, leading to death due to a lack of oxygen reaching the organs,” Dr. Burch said.
Toxoplasmosis isn’t usually a big deal either, unless your cat is young or immunocompromised.
“A kitten who contracts toxoplasmosis from its mother can develop fading kitten syndrome, which is life-threatening, and treatment tends to prove ineffective,” Dr. Burch said. “Adult cats can develop lifelong complications associated with the disease.”
Parasite prevention for cats
Luckily, there are plenty of parasite prevention medications for cats that’ll help make sure your pet never has to deal with these pesky infections.
“To prevent intestinal parasites and most ectoparasites, I recommend cats take a routine flea and parasite prevention prescribed by your veterinarian,” Dr. Burch said.
One of Dr. Burch’s favorite parasite prevention medications is Revolution Plus.
“Revolution Plus is a monthly topical placed on your cat's skin to prevent fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites, including roundworms and hookworms, in your cat,” Dr. Burch said.
Revolution Plus should be given monthly and is often sold in six-month supplies. It’s available for cats in the following weight ranges:
Another of Dr. Burch’s go-tos is Bravecto Plus.
“Bravecto Plus is an every 60-day prevention against fleas, ticks, heartworms, roundworms and hookworms,” Dr. Burch said. Since flea, tick and parasite prevention should be given year-round, you’ll need to remember to restock every two months.
Bravecto Plus is available for cats in the following weight ranges:
In addition to year-round preventatives, you should also keep your cat indoors as much as possible to keep him safe.
“Keeping a cat indoors will also help prevent infection with parasites as indoor cats are less exposed,” Dr. Burch said. “Prevention of toxoplasmosis includes keeping cats from hunting intermediate hosts of the disease, including rodents and birds. I also advise against feeding a raw diet.”
Can you get parasites from cats?
You actually can get parasites from your cat.
“Many of the parasites a cat can contract have the potential of being transmitted to humans as well,” Dr. Burch said.
Intestinal parasites you can get from cats
You can get several intestinal parasites from your cat.
“Intestinal parasites which humans can contract include roundworms, hookworms and giardia,” Dr. Burch said.
External parasites you can get from cats
Fleas are one of the external parasites you can get from your cat.
“In severe flea infestations, humans can receive bites from fleas, resulting in itchy skin lesions,” Dr. Burch said. “Not only can fleas cause annoying skin irritation to humans, but they can also spread serious illnesses. The flea can transmit diseases to humans, including flea-borne typhus, cat scratch disease and tapeworms.”
There are also a couple mites your cat could give you.
“Cats can also spread scabies and cheyletiellosis to their owners,” Dr. Burch said.
Toxoplasmosis can also be passed to humans as well.
“Toxoplasmosis can be spread from cats to humans via a cat's feces,” Dr. Burch said. “Healthy people typically will not experience any symptoms from an infection, but some have developed blindness. Individuals with a weakened immune system can develop seizures or encephalitis.”
Pregnant people are also at high risk when exposed to toxoplasmosis, since it can cause developmental issues or even stillbirth.
“Children, while still in the womb, can develop hearing loss, mental disability and blindness,” Dr. Burch said.
So, staying on top of your cat’s parasite prevention won’t just keep him safe — it’ll keep you safe, too.
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