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The Scratching Post: Parasite Prevention

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Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

It’s that time of year again. You want to go outside and wriggle your toes in the grass. Your cat may want to do this too. That means it’s also the time of year your cat is most likely to get parasites.

Parasites are around all year in high numbers, but those numbers grow exponentially in the warmer months. And since everyone tends to spend more time outside, everyone is more likely to be tracking things into their home. Ever leave your window open this time of year? Parasites are small enough to fit through the holes in any screen door. If your feline friends aren’t getting regular parasite prevention now, it might be time to think about it.

How do you know if your pet is at risk? Outdoor kitties are certainly at a higher risk. Even those that only ever go out on a balcony or screened porch — balconies and screened porches ARE outside as far as a parasite is concerned because they have full access to your kitty.

Cats that are on the 18th floor of a condo with no balcony have a much lower risk, but it’s not zero. While mosquitos are far less common at those heights, parasites like a flea or roundworm or any number of other possibilities can hitch a ride on your shoes and come with you up the stairs or in the elevator all the way into your home.

Symptoms of parasite infestation may include itchiness, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, lethargy, or sometimes nothing at all. Ever see what looks like a grain of rice where your cat was just sitting?  That’s actually a tapeworm, brought about by an infected flea. Flea “dirt,” which is feces, usually looks like bits of pepper on your cat’s fur and skin.

How do you keep your kitty protected?  There are a number of safe and reliable products available to choose from.  Good over the counter medications are Frontline and Advantage. These are topical monthly products that prevent fleas and ticks — depending on which you choose. 

A prescription from your veterinarian is required for preventatives of internal parasites. Heartgard is a monthly chewable tablet that prevents heartworms and hookworms. Revolution is a topical monthly product that prevents fleas, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, and ear mites. To know which product is best for your furry friend, you should discuss your cat’s lifestyle and risk factors with your veterinarian. Questions? Give us a call!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. 

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