Cat Flea & Tick - FAQs

Andy W.
Hoof & Paw Animal Clinic

What are the differences between fleas and ticks, and how do they affect my cat or dog?

First and foremost, fleas are insects, while ticks are arachnids, so ticks are cousins to spiders. The big difference between fleas and ticks is that fleas will build cities and skyscrapers on your animal, and ticks will not. The life cycle of a flea consists of finding your pet, biting your pet, eating your pet, laying eggs, the eggs hatching into larva, the larva turning into pupa, and the pupa turning into adults, perpetuating the cycle. Ticks' life cycle actually happens off of your pet. They only feed off your pet, and after they're done eating, they drop off and continue to propagate and wait for something else to come by.

Where do fleas live on a cat?

On a cat, fleas will live anywhere, but you're most commonly going to see them around the neck, at the base of the tail, and on the belly. They like the areas that are not easily exposed to biting and scratching for obvious reasons.

Can fleas and ticks affect other pets or people?

Yes, because they're all going to go to whatever is the most available food source. If you bring in a stray cat with fleas and you have other pets that you haven't had on flea prevention, it won't take more than about three days before everybody is infested. They can also affect people, but humans don't have a lot of hair, so we don't have a whole lot of ability for them to create skyscrapers on us.

What is the life cycle for fleas?

The life cycle for fleas goes from mama flea to eggs, larva, pupa, and adult flea. This process takes about a week.

What is the life cycle for ticks?

The life cycle for ticks goes from adult to egg, larva, nymph, and new adult.

Are there other types of parasites that my cat may get?

Endoparasites are one example, most prominently tapeworms. Cats are rampant with carrying tapeworms, which are spread by fleas. The cat has to eat a flea in the process of scratching with their mouth predominantly. The fleas carry tapeworm eggs, and that's how tapeworms become infested in the cat.

How do fleas and ticks impact the health and well-being of my cat?

Fleas carry a bloodborne parasite called hemabartonella or hemabart, which causes anemia. Fleas also cause anemia by eating blood. Ticks are the primary vector for spirochete infections, which are a specific type of bacteria spread almost exclusively through ticks. Examples of spirochete infections are Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Babesia. Ticks are your primary concern if you’re worried about the transmission of diseases, whereas fleas are just a pain to get rid of.

How can I prevent my cat from getting fleas and ticks?

It's highly recommended to get a prescription-strength flea and tick prevention. Nowadays, there are products that cover flea, tick, heartworm, and intestinal parasites all in one easy-to-dose combination.

What are some signs and symptoms of a flea and tick infestation in your cat?

Tick infestation isn't a thing, so you don't have to worry about that. Flea infestation will manifest itself as dry, itchy, and scratchy skin that doesn't go away no matter how many times you bathe them. To test for fleas, place a paper towel or piece of computer paper underneath your cat and give them a good rub down. If you see brown dirt, that's flea dirt (flea poop), which is digested blood. If you do want to give your cat a bath until the problem is solved, you’ll see the run-off water looks like diluted blood, which is exactly what it is.

What are some effective flea and tick treatments for cats?

Realistically, any prescription-strength treatment is going to be perfectly fine. Some examples of products used in veterinary clinics are Simparica Trio, Bravecto, NexGard, and NexGard Plus for cats, which also takes care of tapeworms.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (618) 233-2800, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram