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Vet Vanessa Howie advises on how to prevent your cats from getting fleas, worms and ticks.

Do your cats have problems with parasites? Yesterday’s live Q&A on Facebook was with Cats Protection vet, Vanessa Howie and she was answering questions about fleas and worms. Below is a selection of her answers:

Do you need to treat indoor cats for fleas and worms?

Treatment for both fleas and worms should be based on your cat's lifestyle and risk of contracting them. Chat to your vet about how regularly you should treat your cat. If you have contact with other cats or you have a dog in the house you may find you need to treat your indoor cat for fleas. You may find our guides on fleas and worms useful.


What's the best way to deal with ticks?

There are certain products on the market that you can buy to kill ticks. I would recommend that you talk to your vet about the most effective and safe ones for your cat. You could also get a tick hook which may be useful to remove the ticks that you find on your cat. Ask your vet for a demonstration if you’re not sure how to do it – it's really important to ensure all of the tick's mouthparts are removed to prevent further problems. Our guide on fleas and other parasites provides more information on ticks.

brown cat licking paw

Fleas can be ingested during grooming. Photo by Trish Hamme via flickr / Creative Commons


We treat our cats regularly with flea and tick prevention products but still recently ended up with a flea infestation. Are there any effective treatments you recommend?

It's really important that you treat the environment as well as your cat when treating your cat for fleas. The pupae of the flea are really hardy and can hang around in your house for a long period of time. I'd recommend using a good environmental spray available from your vets and ensure that you treat all other cats and dogs in your household. With any flea treatment you will need to ensure that you treat your cat as regularly as the product recommends as any break in cover can be enough to allow the fleas to cause an infestation. If you are still experiencing problems, talk to your vet about maybe changing flea treatment product.

Have a read of our Fleas and other parasites leaflet (linked to earlier) which has some good information on the flea life cycle and treatment options.


Is there a flea treatment I can get in tablet form?

I have a feral cat so ones that need contact application aren't an option.

Yes there are tablet flea treatments available – I'd recommend you chat to your vet about the best one for your cat.

ginger feral cat

Photo by Beverley Goodwin via flickr / Creative Commons


I recently treated my five-year-old female cat for tapeworm after seeing them on her fur. How long do I have to wait until I treat her again?

It depends to a degree on the treatment that you used initially. I'd chat to your vet about your cat's lifestyle risk of getting worms and therefore how often she should routinely be treated for worms.

Cats can be treated monthly through to once a year depending on their lifestyle and whether or not they are efficient hunters. Check out our leaflet about Fleas and other parasites (scroll up for the link) for more information.


Our most recent rescue cat has scabby skin by his tail.

I treat him for fleas regularly and have never seen any fleas on him. Is the skin reaction a flea bite allergy? What can I do for him? He doesn't seem bothered by it.

From your description, it sounds like it may be a flea allergy, although there are other causes of scabby skin and skin allergies. I would recommend that you get him checked over by your vet. Cats with flea allergies are allergic to flea saliva and it only takes a single flea to bite and cause a reaction. Have a read of our Itchy cats and skin disorders leaflet, you may find it helpful.


Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems consult your vet who will have access to your cat’s medical history and will be able to examine them.

Fancy asking one of our feline experts a cat care question? Don’t miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: Our Neutering Manager Jane Clements will be online on 7 May; Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow will be chatting all things feline behaviour on 21 May; while vet Vanessa Howie will be back on 4 June. Each Q&A takes place on our Facebook page at 2pm for one hour. See you there!

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