These days, the only way my cats go outdoors is on a leash.
These days, the only way my cats go outdoors is on a leash. Cat on a leash, sitting on a felled tree. Photography by AlisLuch / Shutterstock.

Fleas and Ticks on Cats in the Northeast

What do cat parents in the Northeast — including the mid-Atlantic states like New York and Pennsylvania, and New England states like Massachusetts — have to know about fleas and ticks on their felines?
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The northeastern United States — including the mid-Atlantic states like New York and Pennsylvania, and New England states like Massachusetts — has plenty of grass, woods, trees, autumn leaves and winter snow.

Fleas in the Northeast

A gray kitten getting ready to scratch.
Fleas in the Northeast can live year-round. Photography by GLOBALP/THINKSTOCK.

Fleas here can live year-round, even in the icy wintertime, when a host like a raccoon may carry the bugs. But — just as they do around the US — the warmer months give parasites the best biting and infesting opportunities, says Matthew Frye, entomologist with New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University.

Fleas breed in shady, moist places outside with exposed soil. Key spots might be under porches and decks, so beware of your cat hiding in these areas, Frye says.

Ticks in the Northeast

The most common tick in the northeast is the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick. There’s also the lone star tick, a southern species that has been making its way north, and the American dog tick, also known as a wood tick. Black-legged ticks prefer moist, dark habitats like forested areas. American dog ticks like a sunny field with tall grass. Lone star ticks can be anywhere. If you keep your grass trimmed, which keeps the moisture level down, you’re not likely to have ticks in your lawn.

Since cats are self-groomers with sandpapery tongues, they might be able to remove a tick themselves, unlike a dog.

The peak activity for ticks — which like to congregate in leaf litter — is in the spring, with lots of baby ticks, and the fall with adult ticks. Summertime ticks are less active because of the heat. In New England, cat owners should stay on top of prevention efforts, especially in the fall; black-legged deer ticks are the biggest and most common tick threat in October, according to Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The clinic’s website cautions people not to assume that ticks die after the first frost and don’t bite in the winter.

More recommendations for preventing fleas and ticks on cats:

 Thumbnail: Photography by AlisLuch / Shutterstock.

It’s Flea and Tick Week sponsored by Andis on Stay tuned for more tips on how to keep your cat and household safe from fleas and ticks!

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