One of the largest surveys based on parasite risks has recently been conducted by MSD Animal Health.
Of the 450 cat owners, over half of those surveyed only treated their pets twice or even less than this in the last year, while 46 percent have not treated for fleas within the last three months. Perhaps even more worrying, given the potential human health risks associated with roundworms, only 19 per cent have wormed their cat four times or more in the last year, and 17 per cent don’t use a worm treatment at all.
Roundworm is the most common worm to affect cats, with a recent Irish study (The prevalence of gastrointestinal and cardio-respiratory parasites in stray dogs and cats in Ireland, 2018) showing that 32 percent of stray cats were shedding eggs. As well as causing gastrointestinal and respiratory problems in cats, roundworms can affect humans too, if eggs are accidentally ingested. Children are most at risk, as they may play in areas (sandpits, gardens etc.) where worm eggs are commonly found. The parasite can cause a variety of problems, including damage to the liver, lungs or eyes.
Owners are concerned about ticks, with 27 percent of owners in the Republic of Ireland reporting that they have found a tick on their cat. More owners were very concerned (34.2 per cent) about ticks than other parasites. It’s important to remember that some of the common spot-on products available do not kill ticks, so make sure you ask your vet for a treatment that covers this key parasite risk.
Advances in treatment
All owners know that cats can be difficult to treat! Applying treatments every month, or giving worming tablets, can be challenging even in well behaved cats. Recent advances mean that options are now available which can make life easier for cats and their owners, including longer lasting treatments and combination products which treat many parasites in one.
Trust your vet
The survey showed that vets continue to be the preferred source of information about parasite treatment, with 72 percent of cat owners seeking advice from their vet. Disease risks constantly evolve, and your vet is best placed to give up-to-date advice about the risks for your pet. Vet practices can also offer the latest treatments, so ask your vet about how you can best protect your cat – and your family – against parasites.