Ticks, what are they good for??? Absolutely nothing… I’ll say it again…
What Are They?
Ticks are arachnids related to spiders; they have 8 legs and a large abdomen. They feed by burrowing their head into the skin of an animal; all that can be seen is a rounded abdomen sticking out of the body. This will swell with blood the longer they have been attached to the animal; unfed they can be as small as 3mm, and when fed up to 1.5cm.
Tick season is generally September to March, but they can be found at any time of year. If a tick attaches to your pet, the poison found in their salivary glands is extremely toxic. Be particularly vigilant during the warmer months. Areas near beaches and marshlands are particularly prone for ticks. For instance Sydney’s Northern Beaches has one of the highest incidence of tick related illness and sadly even death in the country.
Signs to Look Out For
Tick poisoning causes ‘ascending paralysis’; or a gradual loss of ability to use their muscles, starting from the bottom of the cat and moving upwards. This is why the most often seen sign is a loss of ability to use the back legs or walk up stairs. Look out for:
- A change in their voice – their meow may become softer or higher pitched.
- Weakness in the back legs – reluctance to move or jump on to furniture is a common early sign.
- Vomiting – particularly if it is frothy.
As the symptoms worsen, you may see:
- Wobbliness in the hips and back legs, and eventually an inability to stand.
- Excessive drooling and vomiting.
- Panting and loud, strenuous breathing.
- A moist sounding cough.
If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, then it is very important to take them to your vet as soon as possible. The earlier that tick poisoning is treated, the better the outcome is likely to be. On the way there, try to keep your pet still, quiet and cool, and don’t give them anything to eat or drink. Cover their cat carrier with a towel to try and keep them quiet.
Luckily, there are many preventative products and measures you can take to try and avoid this situation.
Search your pet from top to bottom. Feel against the fur, starting at the head, and move backwards until you reach the tip of the tail. Make sure you check around the ears, eyes and mouth, and between the pads. Common places that ticks can be missed are under collar, along the gum line and around the bottom area. If you find a tick, call your local vet right away.
- Washes are a relatively inexpensive option, but many cats just will not tolerate them, as they need to be applied often and well generally speaking cats just really dislike baths.
- Frontline Spray lasts for 3 weeks, and is completely waterproof. However, it can be difficult to apply to wriggling cats, as it requires them to be sprayed thoroughly all over.
- Spot On Treatments such as Frontline Plus have never been tested on cats for tick control. It does however have the same active ingredients as Frontline Plus for Cats and as such many vets recommend it, please check with your vet before using this product as tick protection or call the Frontline helpline and ask questions.
- NB: Advantix cannot be used on cats, it is a dog only treatment, and can cause illness and even death in cats. If you have a dog as well as a cat and use this product and many people do, it is recommended by Bayer and Vets that you separate your dog and cat during application, and for a short time afterwards.
Keeping up to date with your chosen product greatly reduces the risk of tick poisoning, however you should still check your pet every day.