In winter, the weather is not suitable for ticks to exist in the open, so they become dormant. Hence, the chances that they will infect the cats are slim in cold weather.
But in recent times, it has been observed that ticks have infected cats in winter too, and they are adapting to the cold weather.
As the weather starts to cool down and we head into winter, it’s important to remember that our feline friends can still be at risk for tick infestations.
That’s right, even though it’s cold outside, those pesky little buggers can still find a way to latch onto your cat.
So, let’s dive in and explore whether or not cats can get ticks in the winter and what you can do to protect your furry companion.
- Ticks can survive in the winter if the conditions are optimal, such as inside a house where the temperature is not too cold.
- Cats can still get ticks in the winter, even though the risk of tick-borne diseases may be lower during the colder months
- It is important for cat owners to take precautions and regularly check their cats for ticks, even in the winter.
Do Ticks Live In The Winter?
If the conditions are optimal, ticks can survive in winter too. In the outdoors, the weather is not suitable for ticks to survive. Hence, when the temperature drops, they go underground and do not risk coming out.
But let us say, inside a house, the weather is not too cold, and if a tick gets inside, there are chances it may survive and infect your cat.
“Another myth commonly encountered about ticks is that they are only present during certain seasons.
Though ticks are most commonly encountered in spring, summer, and fall, colder temperatures do not guarantee that ticks are not a threat. Under the right circumstances, ticks can survive cold temperatures,”says Dr. Lorie Huston at PetMD.
Even the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory comments that “Ticks can be found on pets during all seasons of the year, not in the spring and summer”
In all, we can say that, ticks do not survive in the cold, but surviving in a season is dependent on the surroundings they are in.
- Research has shown that ticks can still be active in the winter, with a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology finding that ticks can survive and remain active in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Another study published in the Journal of Parasitology found that adult ticks in the northeastern United States were active and able to bite during the winter months, with peak activity occurring in December and January.
Can Cats Get Ticks In The Winter?
Yes, cats can still get ticks in the winter! Even though the risk of tick-borne diseases may be lower during the colder months, it’s still important to take precautions and regularly check your cat for ticks.
Let’s say your cat gets affected during the warmer months, and you get your cat treated, but a few of the ticks are left behind, and they manage to survive and even multiply within a few months.
In winter, the temperature inside the house is high, which makes it optimal for the survival of ticks, so, your cat may get infected even in winter.
According to Ohio State University,
“fleas can easily spend winter months in homes where they to find good animal hosts, and certain ticks can become active when the temperature is as low as 40 degrees”Ohio State University
In the outdoor environment, ticks do not survive in cold weather, so the only way your cat can get affected by them is when it comes into contact with them at the right temperature.
Factors such as snow cover and leaf litter can protect ticks from the cold, allowing them to survive through the winter. Additionally, ticks can also seek out warm and protected environments, such as barns or sheds, to wait out the colder months.
And let me tell you, as a cat owner, it’s important to remember that even though the risk of tick-borne diseases may be lower during the colder months, it’s still crucial to take precautions and regularly check your cat for ticks.
Trust me, you don’t want to have to deal with a tick infestation on your feline during the holiday season.
Interesting Read: Do Cats Get Dandruff In Winter?
Common Misconceptions about Ticks in Winter
|Ticks are only active during the warmer months||Ticks can be active all year round, even in colder temperatures|
|Ticks die off in winter||While tick activity may decrease in winter, ticks can survive in colder temperatures and still pose a threat to cats.|
|Cats are not at risk of tick-borne illness during the winter||Cats can still contract tick-borne illness during the winter if they come into contact with ticks|
|Indoor cats are not at risk||Indoor cats can still be at risk for tick-borne diseases if they come into contact with ticks in their environment.|
|Winter ticks are not as dangerous as summer ticks||Winter ticks can still transmit diseases and cause harm to cats|
|Ticks are only found in wooded areas||Ticks can be found in a variety of environments, including urban and suburban areas.|
Symptoms Of Ticks On Cats During Winter
The symptoms of ticks in pets are the same as they are in the winter. The main symptoms are lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, lameness, stiff joints, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your cat may exhibit one or two symptoms, but not all.
Michelle Matusicky, DVM, MPH Clinical Assistant Professor, and Risa Pesapane, MS, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University, suggests that,
“Watch pets for fever, loss of appetite, stiffness, swollen joints, a lame leg, lethargy, and diarrhea or vomiting”
If your cat is infected by ticks, it can get bobcat fever. This is a fatal disease that is caused by ticks in cats.
If ticks are discovered in the earlier stages of its life, they can be removed from the cat’s body without causing much damage, but if not, they can also be responsible for killing the cat.
Interesting Read: Can I Bathe My Cat In Winter?
Signs of Tick-borne Diseases in Cats
|Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever||Fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and bleeding disorders.|
|Ehrlichiosis||Fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and bleeding disorders.|
|Tularemia||Fever, swollen lymph nodes, and eye infections.|
|Lyme Disease||Fever, swollen joints, and lameness.|
How To Protect Cats From Ticks During Winter?
Some cats are indoor cats, that is, they like to stay indoors, and some are outdoors, and prefer to stay in the open. Some simple steps can help prevent tick infection in your cat.
Ticks are usually found in plants or bushes, so if your cat stays outdoors, you should make sure it stays away from these plants.
In winter, you should keep your cats indoors because of the cold. Staying indoors is the best preventive measure, as it serves two purposes: keeping them warm and safe from ticks
The above measure would mean nothing if the ticks reside indoors. If they have hidden somewhere inside the house, they could infect the cat. As a result, you should inspect your home on a regular basis for such issues and, if present, remove them.
Ticks are easy to miss in their nymph and larva stages, if they are discovered at this stage, they can easily be removed.
Constantly keep checking your cat’s fur and look closely at small places like between the paws, near the legs, etc. If you find the tick in the early stages, it would not even pose any risk to your cat.
Must Read: How Cold Can Cats Survive Outside?
Preventing Ticks in Cats During the Winter
As a cat owner, one of the easiest ways to prevent ticks in the winter is to keep your cat indoors. I know, it can be tough for our feline friends to be cooped up during the colder months, but it’s the safest option.
Another thing I like to do is use tick prevention products and treatments, like a tick collar or topical medication. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, right?
Regular check-ups are also important, even during the winter. Ticks can still cling onto your cat’s fur, and you don’t want to miss out on a tick infestation.
I like to check my cat’s fur every couple of days, especially after they’ve been outside. It only takes a few minutes, and it gives me peace of mind knowing that my cat is tick-free.
|Tick Control Products||Topical tick control products, such as spot-on treatments and sprays, can protect cats from ticks.|
|Tick Collars||Tick collars release a pesticide that repels ticks and can provide protection for cats.|
|Regular Grooming||Brushing and combing your cat regularly can help remove ticks before they have a chance to attach.|
|Keep Cats Indoors||Keeping cats indoors during the winter can reduce their exposure to ticks.|
What To Do If Your Cat Gets Tick During Winter?
If your cat gets ticks in winter, you should first, take the tick out and put it in a container through which it can’t escape. This tick can be used to determine the depth of the problem.
Dr. John Schaefer, interim director of parasitology, and Dr. Amy Glaser, senior research associate, and director of molecular diagnostics, both of Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center, suggest that,
“Remove the tick with a good sharp set of tweezers and protective gloves. There are also various products for tick removal on the market of variable efficacy.
DO NOT attempt to burn or suffocate the tick as this causes the tick to release additional, potentially infectious, saliva into the wound. Observe the feeding site for signs of infection. Keep the tick in an escape-proof container pending further testing”Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center
After getting checked by the vet, if the problem is not too serious, you can use treatments available on the market.
There are treatments that do not involve the use of water; preferably, get those. Cats are already too sensitive to the cold weather and are prone to hypothermia, so bathing in such conditions is not advisable.
According to Dr. Jane Sykes, who serves as director of the Small Animal Clinic in the veterinary hospital at UC Davis, says that
“Cats are susceptible to toxicity from many tick products (permethrin and amitraz), so sometimes cats can get sick if they live with a dog using these products. If you have cats, make sure you use a product that is safe for cats, such as flumethrin or fipronil,”Dr. Jane Sykes
To prevent these in the first place, you should keep a constant check on the cat and introduce regular and thorough grooming practices into your routine to prevent these kinds of intrusions.
If it even happens, and you have a regular grooming schedule, you could find the problem before it escalates beyond repair.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do if cats get ticks in winter?
If you find a tick on your cat, first off, keep the tick in a container to show the vet when you consult them, this could help them determine the infection and treat it properly. You can also use a tick treatment that does not require any water. Cats are not big fans of water, and water could make them vulnerable to hypothermia too.
Can you burn a tick while it is still in the cat’s fur?
No, do not ever burn a tick to get it out of the cat’s fur. Burning the tick can spread the infection even further. When burned, these ticks release secretions that could worsen the wound and even cause an infection.
Pet parents assume that their pet cats cannot get ticks in winter as the temperature is not favorable for them to survive. Warmer places, like inside a house, could be optimal for them to survive.
This could allow them to infect your pets, despite the season. To prevent something like this, you should make sure that you keep grooming your cat and check their fur from time to time.
Ticks are easy to miss in their early stages of life. If your cat feels lethargic, has stiffness in the joints, has a fever, or has a reduced appetite, this could also indicate the presence of ticks.
If your cat is infected it should be immediately taken to the vet and get checked out for it. When cats get infected by ticks, they could get bobcat fever or anemia, which could be fatal.
If you find a tick, you should keep it for observational purposes. It may give better information on the kind of infection the cat would have.
For some people, the idea of storing a tick is irksome, but, it could be helpful for medical purposes. If your cat gets infected what would you do to keep the tick or lose it?
You might also like to read some articles related to winter and your cat:
- Do Cats Need Winter Clothing?
- Can I Walk My Cat In Winter/Snow?
- Do Cats Go Into Heat In The Winter?
- Do Cats Have Kittens In Winter?
- How To Keep A Stray Cat Warm Outside In Winter?
- How To Keep Indoor Cats Warm In Winter?
- How Do Stray Cats Survive Winter?
- Do Cats Get Cold In The Winter?
- Do Cats Get A Winter Coat?
- Do Cats Sleep More in Winter?
- Do Cats Shed More In Winter?
- What To Feed Feral Cats In Winter?
- Do Cats Eat More In The Winter?
- Do Cats Drink Less Water In The Winter?
- How To Keep Cats Warm Without Electricity?