Health & Care
A gray cat scratching.

Fleas and Ticks on Cats in the Southwest

What do cat parents in the Southwest — including Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California — have to know about fleas and ticks on their felines?

Kellie B. Gormly  |  Apr 1st 2018


The desert southwest — a special climate we see in places like Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California — is arid and dry. Fleas and ticks may not flourish in this environment as much as they might in humid regions with green grass and forests. But cats in areas like Arizona aren’t immune to irritating flea and tick bites, and pet parents may face the headache of infestations in their houses, says Dr. Brian Serbin, a Phoenix veterinarian at Ingleside Animal Hospital.

Fleas on cats in the Southwest

Orange ginger tabby cat itching. Photography ©foaloce | Thinkstock.

Cats in the Southwest get fleas more than dogs do. Photography ©foaloce | Thinkstock.

Fleas can be worse than just a nuisance. In fact, in 2017, Newsweek reported that officials discovered that fleas in two Arizona counties were carrying the bacteria that causes the bubonic plague.

With the temperate, consistently hot climate in the southwest, there is no flea or tick season really; the pests come year-round. Still, like other regions, the peak time is the spring, summer and fall since winter can have some cold spells and pests aren’t breeding as much. Interestingly, cats in the desert southwest get fleas more often than dogs do, Dr. Serbin explains.

Ticks on cats in the Southwest

The good news for humans and pets in the whole region west of the Mississippi River is that there is little to no Lyme disease, Dr. Serbin says.

The brown dog tick is the most common tick that lives in the desert, and they feed on cats as well as dogs — the most common hosts — and other animals, including humans. Ouch. Remember that these parasites need a host, like your cat, to survive; and, they can pick up the ticks from wildlife like coyotes, Dr. Serbin says. Keeping your cat inside will prevent wildlife contact and most tick encounters.

The prevention and treatment:

Serbin recommends year-round measures, based on your veterinarian’s advice and tailored to your cat.

More recommendations for preventing fleas and ticks on cats:

Thumbnail: Photography by julia-kobzeva / Shutterstock.

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