It is not uncommon for cats to be exposed to and experience many different types of intestinal and heart worms and parasites. Cats that are experiencing worm and parasite problems must undergo diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian.
Prevention is the best approach – cats should be given a heartworm pill annually, as well as seen by a veterinarian annually. In addition to the annual prevention, parasites can also be avoided through several control techniques:
Cats should not be fed on the floor or out of a dirty dish
Living spaces such as cat bedding and play areas should be treated regularly for parasites using a parasite inhibitor, as well as treated for ticks and lice
Keep cats away from raw meat such as birds, mice and other rodents
Clean cat litter boxes regularly
If the cat is diagnosed with parasites, give the cat the anti-parasitic medications as prescribed by the cat’s veterinarian
Mites, Fleas, Lice, and Ticks
Mites, like Fleas are external parasites that live in the ears of cats as well as on the surface of their skin. Mites can be transferred from cat to cat and will cause the cat to scratch and claw at its skin due to the skin irritation. Kittens typically experience a black discharge out of their ears when infected with mites.
To cure mites, use a mineral oil to daily clean the cat’s ears and use common flea powders over the ears and body of the cat.
Fleas are small, wingless, external parasites that live off of the blood of mammals and birds. Cats in humid climates are generally more affected by these types of parasites. Reactions may vary from cat to cat, but most reactions result in a rash on specific areas of the cat.
To control fleas, keep the cat’s living area clean and use commercially available powders, sprays and cat collars.
Another common parasite, lice can cause intense itching and skin irritation in cats. Lice eggs are typically found on the cat’s hair and adult lice close to the cat’s skin.
To control lice, use commercially available flea powders and sprays regularly. Eliminating lice can take several weeks.
Ticks Ticks are small to microscopic parasites that burrow their heads below the surface of the cat’s skin causing disease and irritation. Ticks are common in almost every part of the world, but are especially prevalent on beaches, in open fields and in wooded areas. These parasites are typically found between the toes and in the ears of household pets.
To remove a tick, cover the back of the tick with oil or alcohol and wait for the tick to back out of the skin. If using tweezers, make sure that the entire tick is removed and that the head of the tick is not broken off under the skin. Never use a hot match to remove ticks.
Rabies is a virus that can cause a wide variety of symptoms in cats. Once bitten by a rabid animal, the virus will spread through the nerve tissue and eventually affect the brain such that the cat will become highly agitated and possibly aggressive. As the virus progresses, the cat will eventually experience paralysis of their lungs and throat causing the animal to suffocate and die.
Rabies is a virus that can be prevented through vaccination every three years. As rabies is common in both domestic and wild animals, most states in the US require cats to have rabies shots.
Once contracted, rabies is usually fatal. This virus attacks the central nervous system, starting at the brain and radiating throughout the body through the nerves.
Rabies is transmitted from animal to animal or from animal to human through a bite wound that breaks the skin. The virus can also be transmitted through saliva.