Cat Flea and Tick - Detecting and Treating Cat Fleas and Ticks

What are fleas and ticks?

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that take blood meals from pets. They are blood-sucking external parasites.

Dr. Meghan Denney
Four Paws at Fulshear Animal Clinic

How do fleas and ticks impact the health and wellbeing of my cat?

We all need red blood cells, so it's important not to lose them. We've seen patients come in that are so infested with fleas and/or ticks that they're actually anemic, and in severe cases, they can need blood transfusions. Fleas and ticks can also transmit diseases. They can get tapeworms by eating a live flea. Ticks can spread tickborne diseases that can cause bad immune problems and be fatal to pets.

How do cats get fleas and ticks?

By going outside. There are fleas and ticks in our environment. I'm here in Fulshear, and we definitely live in a rural area. There's a lot of development going on, but we still have quite a bit of rural areas, like trees, and we have a lot of wildlife. So anytime an animal steps outside, they are exposed to these two different external parasites.

What do fleas and ticks look like?

Fleas are super tiny little black bugs and they are strong jumpers. Because they are strong jumpers, they can be hard to find sometimes. I know there are clients that come in and say their dogs with cats are itching, but they can't see any fleas, and then we'll find one, but they're teeny tiny. We're talking maybe two or three millimeters at the max. Ticks are a little bit bigger, anywhere from six to eight millimeters. If they are engorged just after a full blood meal, they can even be up to 12 millimeters. So they are still relatively small.

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

With ticks, you might not know they're there unless you see them. If you can see them, then obviously, they're there. With fleas, a sign that they are there, although you may not see them, is itching, particularly back around the tail. If your cat is super sensitive when you're giving them butt rubs, sometimes that can be because they're itchy back there. You can see dander, little specks of black. We call it flea dirt, but it literally looks like dirt on their skin, and that's actually flea feces. So itching and visibility are big ones, and you should check for flea dirt.

What are the most effective flea and tick treatments for my cat?

I really like Bravecto, a topical ointment you apply that lasts for two months. It is a flea, tick, and heartworm preventative, so apply it every two months. That's probably my favorite. Some of the over-the-counter brands we do have to be careful with because they're just not as effective, and when we put a flea or tick collar on a cat, they can get caught on things going outside and, unfortunately, they can strangle themselves. So I'm not a huge fan of the Seresto Collar because of that fact, but that is an option. A lot of the other over-the-counter flea preventatives just don't work quite as well. They've been on the market too long. My top preference is Bravecto Plus for cats.

What should I do if I find fleas or ticks on my cat?

Definitely give us a call. If you are a current client and have been seen within the past year, we can send home flea and tick prevention after a simple phone call. You can pick it up or go to our online store to order it. If you are not a current client, you can give us a shout, and we can get you in and get those problems taken care of.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (281) 801-1444, 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,