Tick season is upon us! As the weather gets cooler, most insects take this time to migrate indoors, overwinter, or lay their eggs and die off. Ticks, however, are in full swing as adults and larvae search for potential hosts. Now is the time to protect your furry friends from tick bites, especially for outdoor-only pets.
During fall and winter, tick adults and larvae actively seek hosts, and cats provide an ideal food source for both life stages to feed on. When ticks move through their lifecycle (egg, six-legged larvae, eight-legged nymph, adult), they feed on a different host each time they grow. Adult ticks typically get their bloodmeals from larger animals such as deer and raccoons, and larval ticks feed on smaller animals, like mice and chipmunks. Cats are a perfect in-between-sized host for adult and larval ticks to feed on during cooler months.
Adult female ticks can attach to cats through questing, a host-seeking behavior where ticks climb out on long pieces of vegetation and outstretch their frontmost legs to grab onto animals that brush by. Larval ticks rely more on immediate hosts for survival and likely come in contact when cats hunt infested prey, namely small rodents already covered with ticks.
To protect your furry friends from being bitten by ticks, you need to address adult ticks and larval ticks at the same time.
To protect your yard from adult ticks
- Keep your lawn cut back and keep any overgrown vegetation away from your cat's harborage areas. This includes foliage near the cat's food and water bowls and their sleeping bed (if you put one out).
- Create a barrier around your home, especially the areas your outdoor cat likes to reside the most, like the patio, porch, or deck, with stone, woodchips, or gravel. This makes it harder for ticks to cross the threshold into your cat's living spaces.
To protect your yard from larval ticks
- Move woodpiles, leaf litter, and other yard debris away from your cat's food, water, and bedding. These areas provide harborage from small rodents carrying ticks on them.
- Check any outdoor towels, blankets, and cat bedding for signs of damage. Mice and other rodents use cotton materials to build their nests, and ticks may drop and live on these materials until your cat comes back.
In the case of outdoor cats, you cannot always control where they wander during the day. It is always possible that ticks can attach to your cat when they visit a neighbor's yard or a densely forested area outside of your control. Always check on your outdoor cats to see if they show signs of a tick problem.
Signs of ticks on your cat
- Excessive itching and biting at neck, ears, crevices, and feet.
- Redness, inflamed skin, and hair loss in concentrated areas across the body.
- Noticeable bumps on the cat's skin from engorged females actively blood-feeding.
- Irregular behavior (lethargy, loss of appetite, joint pain, lameness) can be signs of a tick-borne feline disease, such as Lyme disease or Anaplasmosis. Contact your veterinarian immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
Cat’s Out Of The Bag!
Mosquito Squad’s trained and licensed technicians are seasoned pros at dealing with ticks. Our traditional barrier treatment and tick tube services provide long-lasting relief for your furry friends. For more information on our pet-friendly tick services, call us today for a free quote.