Although fleas are not common in Calgary, it is not a guarantee that your cat will avoid infestation. Fleas can be contracted with close proximity to other animals and from time spent in an infested environment, as fleas can jump quite high and far.
Ticks and lice are more of a concern in the Calgary area than fleas. Indoor cats should have a negligible risk of exposure to ticks, but lice could be contracted from contact with another cat with lice (for example, at a boarding facility). If your cat has access to the outdoors, travels, or attends a boarding facility, talk to a veterinarian about parasite prevention for their lifestyle.
How do I know if my cat has fleas?
Fleas are small, brownish-red and have a flat and narrow body shape. They are very quick and can jump quite high and far. If infested, you can usually see them scurrying around in the fur, and your pet may have red bumps or what looks like dirt on the skin. Flea infestation will cause your pet to be quite itchy, and all pets in the house would be affected. If your home is infested or if you’re in close contact with an infested cat, you may also experience flea bites.
Ticks can be as small as about the end of a pin, but after a blood meal, they can engorge to about the size of a kernel of corn. After they have already engorged is typically when people will notice a tick on their pet. Tick bites do not usually make a pet itchy.
Do fleas harm cats?
Fleas can cause skin irritation, and in more severe cases, infections and possible anemia. Cats with fleas will ingest them when grooming and can contract tapeworms this way. Contact your veterinarian if your cat is itchy, or you see bugs crawling in their fur.
Ticks can be as small as a poppy seed when they first bite. Relying on being able to spot them and remove them in a timely fashion is not an effective way to prevent infection with the bacterial diseases they can carry (i.e. Lyme disease).
Why is treating and preventing fleas so important?
Effective prevention of parasite infestations and expedient treatment will reduce the risk that any secondary problems will result from exposure to these parasites. It is much easier to prevent fleas and ticks than it is to treat the problems they can cause. It is also less expensive and less stressful for you and your pet to stay on the preventive side of things.
What are some simple steps for treating fleas in your senior cat?
Limiting exposure to high-risk areas can be helpful in prevention, but effective parasite control products are crucial in areas where fleas and/or ticks are known to be present. Discuss your cat’s lifestyle with your veterinarian, and they can advise you on how to protect your cat best. If your cat is strictly indoors in Calgary, their risk of external parasites is low. If they travel or roam outside, then they may require parasite prevention.