Felines and fleas: A dose of prevention is key

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(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)

It’s a common belief that indoor cats don’t need protection from parasites, such as fleas. While cats that stay indoors are at lower risk than those who spend the majority of time outside, the potential still exists for infestation. Preventive care is the most important step cat owners can take to help ensure a long and healthy life for their furry friends.

Even indoor cats can pick up fleas from the family dog that may not be displaying signs of an infestation, or from clothing, dirt tracked inside or items carried indoors.

Fleas can be more than an inconvenience; they can actually pose a significant health risk to your cat by passing along things like cat scratch fever and tapeworms. A cat that is allergic to fleas may experience intense itching, similar to a person who has contracted poison ivy. Also, it’s possible that flea bites or self-inflicted scratches may develop into an infection requiring medical attention.

The health risks to your cat can take an emotional and physical toll as you work to eradicate this pesky problem. A persistent flea infestation may require several months of thorough cleaning or even professional extermination, which may force the family to temporarily relocate to a non-toxic environment.

To fend off the preventable problems associated with fleas, get proactive and protect your cat with this advice from Chris Adolph, DVM, MS, DACVM, a board certified parasitologist, veterinary specialist at Zoetis and former veterinary practice owner in Broken Arrow, Okla.

Recognize that flea protection should be year-round. Planning a regular dosage schedule makes it less likely you will forget to administer a dose, and it covers gaps for a late start to winter or an early start to spring, when parasites may become active beyond the traditionally expected timeframes.

Broad-spectrum preventive care is best. With treatments available that offer protection against both internal and external parasites, it’s easy to maximize your cat’s preventative care. A single dose of a topical medication such as Revolution controls five parasites — fleas, heartworms, roundworms (Toxocara cati), hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme) and ear mites (Otodectes cynotis) — for one month. The treatment is FDA-approved and requires no separation from family or other pets after it is administered.

Rely on regular health screenings. Annual veterinarian screenings will help give you peace of mind that your cat is in good health and protected from parasitic infections. In addition to an overall checkup, your veterinarian may screen for intestinal parasites and make recommendations for any adjustments needed in your cat’s care.

Learn more about protecting your cat from common parasites at Revolution4Cats.com.
— Family Features

(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)

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