Your Cat and Ticks
Dr. Fern Slack, UCVC Medical Director
Folks around Boulder have been telling us they are seeing a lot more ticks this year than they’ve seen in previous years. We’ve seen quite a few too over the past few months when we’d seen almost none at all before that. Read on to learn what you need to know about your cat and ticks in Colorado.
TICK-BORNE DISEASES: An Emerging Public Health Problem
Ticks are found all through Colorado, especially at higher elevations. Ticks transmit a long list of infectious diseases when they bite, diseases that can affect multiple species including humans. Some of the most common tick-spread diseases in Colorado are Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and tick-borne relapsing fever, but there is a truly overwhelming list of less common tick-borne diseases as well.
Ticks also can and do spread Lyme disease. The CDC considers Colorado a “low-incidence” state for Lyme disease, however, there were 8 cases of confirmed Lyme disease reported in Colorado in 2019, which is the largest case number in Colorado history. There is probably a lot more Lyme disease around than that number suggests; cases are probably heavily underreported, due to the difficulty of diagnosis, the novelty of Lyme in our state, and the currently limited Lyme education and prevention awareness in Colorado citizens. It is not known how many of these 8 cases were tick-transmitted, but one thing is clear from the CDC data: the incidence of tick-borne disease in the United States more than doubled between 2004 and 2016; and in that time period, 77% of all reported vector-borne diseases were tick-borne. The numbers are probably growing rapidly.
This is such an important emerging human public health problem in Colorado that Colorado Governor Jared Polis designated May 2021 as “Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Disease Awareness Month,” for the 5th year in a row.
YOUR CAT MAY NEED TICK PREVENTION
For those of us with cats who go outside, whether roaming free, confined to a yard, or in a catio, this means that we need to begin thinking about tick prevention. Tick prevention is important to protect our cats, our other pets, and ourselves, too.
Multiple products are available for safe tick prevention for cats. Our favorite is Revolution Plus, a topical product that only needs to be applied once a month. Unlike many other such products, after the application of Revolution Plus, cats do not need to be separated from family members until the product has dried. A simple hand-wash after an application is plenty!
If your cat needs Revolution Plus, or if you have any questions about it please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In cat households where dogs also reside, special care is indicated to prevent dogs from bringing ticks into the house. Tick prevention products for your dog can be obtained from or recommended by your dog’s veterinarian.