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Seed Ticks on Cats

Seed Ticks on Cats

Seed ticks on cats can be quite dangerous as these parasites may cause certain deadly diseases such as lyme disease. Read on to know more about seed ticks and how they can affect your cat.
Parul Solanki
Cats venturing outdoors can pose quite a few problems for a pet owner. I knew of those dangerous heartworms and fleas that posed a risk for a cat's health, but it was only recently that I saw the very ugly, brown multiple-legged creatures latched on to my cat's skin. Ticks are common bloodsucking ectoparasites that affect not only pets but humans as well. Unlike fleas and lice, ticks are not insects. Rather, they belong to the arachnid family. Since they have no wings, they can crawl onto the skin of the animals when they are physically close. They then embed the mouth parts into the skin of the animals and start sucking the blood.

Life Cycle of Seed Ticks
The life cycle of a tick consists of four stages: the egg, the larvae, the nymph, and the adult. It is in the larval stage of their growth that ticks are referred to as seed ticks. Apart from the larval ticks, some smaller types of ticks are also known as seed ticks. The size of a small pinhead, these ticks may resemble small, brown poppy seeds. After 19 to 60 days, the eggs of an adult female tick hatch. The larvae or the seed ticks need an immediate warm-blooded host. After feeding from the host, they turn bluish in color. While some types of ticks remain attached to the host for the rest of their life cycle, others will drop off in three to six days, only to reattach to the same or different host in the nymphal stage.

Are Seed Ticks Dangerous?
The danger of feline seed tick infestation lies in the number of seed ticks that affect cats. Present in a large numbers, seed ticks can transmit a host of feline tick diseases which include:
  • Cytauxzoonosis
  • Haemobartonellosis
  • Lyme Disease
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Tularemia
  • Ehrlichiosis
Most of these diseases cause symptoms such as fever, lameness, difficulty in breathing, stiffness of joints, lethargy, and weight loss. In addition to this, some cats are allergic to seed ticks and may develop an inflammation or a "hot spot". Licking the inflamed, itchy spot usually results in the area getting ulcerated. To avoid these health problems, it is best to remove the seed ticks as soon as possible.

Feline Tick Removal
Unlike an adult tick, larval ticks usually do not have the ability to attach themselves to the host properly. However, the drawback is that these seed ticks are so small they are hardly visible unless present in large numbers. To remove the ticks from the cat, you can take a packaging tape and place it over the affected area. When you lift off the tape, you will find the seed ticks sticking onto it.

The best course of action, when you find seed ticks on cats, is to treat your house and the lawns for tick removal. This is essential as the ticks may wander around and infect a human as well. As for the cats, you need to groom them often and tick-proof them so that there is no re-occurrence. Since most of these seed ticks are passed on from the grasses and bushes, it is best not to let your pet cat roam around, especially in the morning or after the rains, when the grass is wet. This is because ticks are usually attracted by moisture. If you suspect any signs of a feline tick disease, then consult a veterinarian for appropriate treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.