Diseases transmitted by fleas to cats: symptoms, treatment and prevention

Parasites can transmit diseases to cats: here are which diseases are transmitted by fleas to the cat, how to recognize them, prevent them and treat them.

During the hottest months of the year your cat is more likely to be affected by a fearsome flea infestation: these tiny parasites cause tremendous itching and great discomfort to the cat, but the problem doesn’t stop there. Some diseases, in fact, are transmitted to the cat through flea bites and this makes the prevention of the problem even more important through timely pesticide treatments.

The problem of fleas does not only concern cats that live on the street or are free to leave the house: even the specimens that usually live only inside the home must be adequately protected from parasites. In fact, fleas can make their way into the home by hiding in the most unexpected places, including the fibers of the fabrics or the cavities of floors and walls.

This is why it is important to know which diseases are transmitted by fleas to cats but above all to know how to prevent the problem even before the parasites can cause damage to the health and well-being of our feline friend.

4 diseases transmitted by fleas to cats

1. Bartonellosis

Fleas can be a vehicle for the transmission of a bacterial infection from bartonella, also known as bartonellosis: more than from flea bites, the cat usually becomes infected through the feces of the latter with which it comes into contact when the very small insects settle on the cat skin. The cat licks its fur to clean itself and comes into contact with infected feces.

It is a zoonosis, which also affects other animals in addition to cats and is also transmissible to humans: it is known as a cat scratch disease. Usually the bartonellosis is asymptomatic in the cat, so it is difficult to notice that the cat is sick and often becomes a constraint in the transmission of the disease in spite of itself.

Only in immunosuppressed animals are usually found some symptoms, including for example fever, lethargy, uveitis in cats. Although symptoms are usually silent, there are many medical conditions linked to bartonella infections in cats such as gum and oral disease, eye inflammation but also heart disease.

The only sure way to diagnose bartonellosis is to have your cat blood drawn that can identify the presence of the bacteria. If the vet confirms the diagnosis, Bartonella can be cured with a treatment based on antibiotics: however, the best thing is prevention, with appropriate antiparasitic treatments for cats.

2. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)

Some cats may have a hypersensitivity to substances contained in the saliva of fleas and, when these parasites bite their skin, allergic reactions such as the so-called DAP, flea allergy dermatitis, can occur. The animal’s immune response leads to the appearance of various symptoms, including in particular a rather severe skin irritation, with hair loss, the presence of scabs and skin infections in the most affected areas.

If symptoms of this type are found in the cat, it is necessary to proceed with the identification of the problem, by looking for the actual presence of fleas on the skin and on the fur of the animal. At that point, action must be taken to eliminate the cause of the problem: the cat must be subjected to pesticide treatment and you must also take care of disinfecting the objects and the environment in which the cat lives.

Finally, also in this case, as for all diseases transmitted by fleas to cats, it is good to work with constant and regular prevention: in addition to the classic medicinal treatments, there are also excellent flea collars that we can wear to our cat to protect it from parasites.

3. Feline anemia

If the cat is bitten by a large number of fleas that feed on its blood, it could develop a form of anemia: this medical condition is especially serious for puppies and must be promptly addressed with proper veterinary care.

cat suffering from anemia will have a dangerously low number of red blood cells, with symptoms ranging from weakness to pale mucous membranes, cat pica, jaundice, tachycardia and tachypnea.

If the cat shows one or more of these signs it is important to contact the veterinarian to have it tested in the blood: by reading the hematocrit and hemogram, the doctor can diagnose the actual anemic condition and prescribe the most suitable treatments.

When cats become anemic due to fleas, you must first act on them and eliminate the problem. In particularly severe cases, the vet may give the animal a blood transfusion to restore the adequate number of red blood cells. To learn more about the topic, you can consult here our in-depth study on feline anemia.

4. Tapeworm

The tapeworm is a parasitic worm that is transmitted to the cat by fleas: usually, the cat ingests the parasites during the grooming phase while licking the fur to clean itself. If one of the swallowed fleas is infected with tapeworms, the cat will also be infected.

The tapeworm is one of the most common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats: these tiny worms attach themselves to the walls of the intestine of the animal that hosts them through the mouthpieces similar to suckers, absorbing the nutrients from the food that the cat or dog eats. but he is no longer able to assimilate.

Sometimes, you may notice what look like fragments of these worms in the cat’s rectum: they are easily recognized because they look like white rice grains. In reality, these are “packets” of tapeworm eggs that are released into the environment through the feces.

The most common symptoms of a tapeworm infestation in your cat are: alternating diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, weakness, cat weight loss, dull and matted coat, itching in the anus area due to the leakage of the eggs. If the vet diagnoses a cat with tapeworms, the animal will need to be dewormed.

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