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Ectoparasites of free-roaming domestic cats in the central United States

Thomas, Jennifer E., Staubus, Lesa, Goolsby, Jaime L., Reichard, Mason V.
Veterinary parasitology 2016 v.228 pp. 17-22
Amblyomma americanum, Cheyletiella, Ctenocephalides felis, Dermacentor variabilis, Felicola subrostratus, Ixodes scapularis, Nosopsyllus fasciatus, Otodectes cynotis, Pulex, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, acaricidal properties, antiparasitic agents, cats, risk, ticks, Midwestern United States
Free-roaming domestic cat (Felis catus) populations serve as a valuable resource for studying ectoparasite prevalence. While they share a similar environment as owned cats, free-roaming cats do not receive routine veterinary care or ectoparasiticide application, giving insight into parasite risks for owned animals. We examined up to 673 infested cats presented to a trap-neuter-return (TNR) clinic in the central United States. Ectoparasite prevalences on cats were as follows: fleas (71.6%), ticks (18.7%), Felicola subrostratus (1.0%), Cheyletiella blakei (0.9%), and Otodectes cynotis (19.3%). Fleas, ticks, and O. cynotis were found in all months sampled. A total of 1117 fleas were recovered from 322 infested cats. The predominate flea recovered from cats was Ctenocephalides felis (97.2%) followed by Pulex spp. (2.8%), Cediopsylla simplex (0.6%), and Nosopsyllus fasciatus (0.6%). A total of 373 ticks were recovered from 126 infested cats. The predominate tick species was Amblyomma americanum (65.9%) followed by Ixodes scapularis (32.5%), Dermacentor variabilis (10.3%), and Rhipicephalus sanguineus (0.8%). Immature tick stages accounted for 54.7% of all ticks found, highlighting an under-appreciated source of tick burden on domestic cats. The results of this study emphasize the importance of year-round use of ectoparasiticides with both insecticidal and acaricidal activity on domestic cats.