A high percentage of skin diseases in the cat have a primary ectoparasitic (external parasite) source. In most countries, vets will always look for evidence of parasites, especially fleas, whenever presented with a pruritic (itchy) cat.
There are many types of fleas, but in the cat, it is the cat flea that causes the problem. Fleas will not live or breed on humans, although they may take bite us. They are dark brown, vertically flattened, and fast moving. They breed in your house in carpets and bedding, not outside. Every adult female flea has the potential of laying up to 200 flea eggs per week in your house. It doesn’t take long for tens of thousands of fleas to develop. The flea egg falls to the floor and will lay in your carpet or between the floor boards. This will hatch and form an organic scavenging pupa which then forms a cocoon before emerging as the adult flea. The life cycle can take from two weeks to six months plus, and the stories of empty houses previously infested with fleas biting new occupants with no pets, unfortunately, are all true! Hence the old farming trick of sending a sheep into an old croft before moving in, with the vain hope it will pick up any fleas.
The secret is not to get into a position of having fleas in the house in the first place. We do believe that the best anti-flea products are obtained directly from your vet when your pet has an active flea problem. However, to prevent flea infestation, the best advice is prevention. It is important to provide constant flea control as a months break will allow fleas to start breeding again in your household.
A very simple test for the presence of fleas is the ‘comb out test’ onto damp tissue paper. Place a layer of damp tissue paper twice the size of your cat on a table top. Put your cat on the tissue paper and comb all areas of the coat especially the middle of the back onto the tissue paper. Look for black/brown granules that absorb water and provide a russet brown ring around the granules. These are flea dirt and indicate an active flea presence.
Cat fleas are brought into your household on your pet and will lay their eggs on your pet and in their proximity. These develop into organically scavenging pupae in your carpets and skirting boarding and, depending on climatic conditions will develop, via a cocoon phase, into adult fleas between two weeks and six months after deposition. Movement in a room triggers the hatching of the cocoon larvae into the adult flea. Please remember, that fleas carry the cat and dog tapeworm, Dipilydidium. We would advise three monthly worming with a proprietary worming preparation. If you have a heavy infestation problem or a cat that hunts incessantly you may need to use this tapeworm treatment every month.
These are common parasites of cats that roam and stalk outside. They are capable of spreading of spreading the intracellular parasite, haemobartonella, and will cause conditions such as tick bite granuloma.
This is a mite that can live on the skin of cats. It particularly likes the dorsal surfaces and will cause intense irritation and heavy scurfing and dandruff in limited areas, in particular on the dorsum (upper surfaces) of the back. Shampooing weekly for three weeks with a preparation will usually eliminate the problem.
These external parasites are becoming increasingly rare and are species specific. They are typically 1-2 mm in length, a faun to plum, colour and will cause intense irritation on all body surfaces, especially over the body where areas of hair loss and skin inflammation may occur.
Also known as Otodectes. Common parasites of the ear canal of the young cat which may cause intense irritation, excessive wax production and irritation. They often cause secondary irritation around the ear flaps. Consult your vet for advice and treatment.