In the hot, muggy humid environment of the southeastern United States — including places like Florida, the Carolinas and Georgia — fleas and ticks are less seasonal because of the warmer, steady climate.
These pests can cause consistent problems for cats year-round, says Dr. Richard Gerhold, assistant professor at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Knoxville.
Mostly, the region has the lone star tick, which is identified by unusually long mouthparts, and one or more white spots on the back, and the American dog tick, which has shorter mouthparts and white spots on the back. According to the University of Georgia Extension website, the lone star tick bites large animals like livestock, smaller animals like cats and dogs, deer and humans. The American dog tick prefers dogs but also bites cats, larger animals and humans.
Pets in the southeast may also encounter the black-legged tick or the brown dog tick, the latter of which is tropical in nature and can’t survive outside. If your cat gets a brown dog tick, she probably got it from inside a building where ticks have been — for instance, if you move to a new house, Dr. Gerhold says.
Cats can get a serious disease called cytauxzoonosis felis, carried mainly by the lone star tick. This disease attacks the red blood cells and can make the cat anemic, with very pale to almost white mucous membranes, Dr. Gerhold explains. The best way to spare your cat all parasite suffering is to practice flea and tick prevention.
If your cat goes outside, minimize potential flea and tick problems by keeping your grass cut short to keep humidity low, removing leaf litter, keeping the compost pile covered and not feeding wildlife except for birds, Dr. Gerhold says.
Thumbnail: Photography ©Dixi | Getty Images.
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