Ticks and Fleas on Cats Q&A
WebMD veterinary expert answers common questions pet owners have about fleas and ticks on their cats.
Q: Are fleas and ticks worse in some areas? Where?
A: Ticks and fleas can be worse from one area to another and can vary
seasonally and from year to year. There’s one particular flea species that we
find on dogs and cats in North America that predominates. If you look it up
it’s called Ctenocephalides felis, or the cat flea, because its species
name is felis. For that flea, the primary determining factor of
populations is humidity. So why are their more fleas in Tampa, Fla., than in
Kansas City? Why are there more fleas in Kansas City then Denver? Humidity.
Once you get into the Rocky Mountain states, for example, or even the Western
areas of the plains states, fleas on dogs and cats are not that much of a
problem because it’s just too dry. The Gulf Coast region of North America and
the Southeast region are the flea capital. As you move inland, however,
depending on the rainfall in a given year, it can be OK or get very horrid at
Ticks have different biologies and behaviors, of course. And there are
different areas that have more tick problems than others. There are very few
places in North America you can’t encounter ticks today, because there are so
many different ticks. But there definitely are areas that are worse than
Q: Can cats get heartworms?
A: Sure can. Absolutely. And it can be deadly in cats. Dogs get heartworm
far more often than cats do. But when cats do get heartworm, it can definitely
be lethal. I honestly believe that heartworm in cats is more lethal than
heartworm in dogs, to that individual. There is no effective heartworm
treatment for cats. All we can do for cats is try to treat the symptoms, manage
the disease, until the worms die off. There are
preventatives for cats, just like for dogs. If you put the cat on
preventatives, it will keep them from getting heartworm, and if you use it when
they have heartworms, it will keep them from getting more while you wait for
the worms they have to die off. Some of these worms can live up to four years
in a cat.