how to check your cat for parasites

Fleas

Ask yourself these questions to check if your cat might have a flea problem:

  • Is your cat grooming excessively?
  • Does your cat have any skin rash or irritation?
  • Does your cat have any fur loss?
  • Have you noticed little red specks if your cat has been in the shower/basin/bath?
  • Part the hair on the rump of your cat, do you see any adult fleas?
  • Part the hair on the rump, do you see black soot like specks?
  • If you comb your cat onto a white sheet, do you see black specks? These may be flea faeces. If they turn red when wet, then your cat has fleas!

Ticks

Ticks are easier to spot than fleas as once they are adults, they fix themselves into the skin and remain stationery. They may start off the size of a seed, but grow as they fill up with blood into a small grey-brown bean. They can attach anywhere on the body and you will often find them as a result of stroking your cat and finding a lump. Your cat may try to lick the area, or rub it as they do cause irritation and discomfort.

It is always a good idea to remove ticks, but do use a tick twister device or make an appointment at your veterinary practice for the professionals to do it for you!

Round worms

If you have a kitten with a lot of worms, you may see spaghetti like worms in the faeces or vomit. However just because you do not, this certainly doesn't mean your kitten doesn't have any worms. All kittens will have some worms and treating them at least monthly when young is a must. We recommend continuing to do this with adult cats to minimise the amount of infection in the environment which is a public health concern.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are common in cats as they can get them from hunting and eating their prey. They can also get them from ingesting a flea that is infected with tapeworm eggs. When a cat gets a tapeworm, its mouth parts attach to the intestine and it sheds segments which crawl outside its body. You may see them as white worms attached to the fur around the cats’ bottom, or you may see little white balls in their bed – almost like tiny pearls.

If your cat is a hunter then they may need tapeworm treatments more often than other cats so let your vet practice know this.

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to parasites

Not all cats have the same lifestyle or are at the same risks from parasites. This will depend on whether your cat lives indoors all the time, or is free to roam. It will depend where you live geographically and whether your cat likes to hunt or not. There is no one treatment plan which is right for every moggy. Discuss your cats’ needs at your health checks and annual vaccination appointment.

The take home message is that prevention is much better than cure, when it comes to parasites. No one wants a flea infestation in their home as it can take months to eradicate it and can cost a lot of money and anguish. We are fortunate these days to have very effective anti-parasitic preventative treatments at our disposal.

The good news is that flea and worm treatment is one of the benefits included in your Healthy Pet Club membership.