Whether or not your Bengal is an indoor cat or an outdoor cat, both are susceptible to parasites.
You may be familiar with ticks and fleas – the most common external parasites. However, your Bengal is also vulnerable to much more dangerous internal parasites that affect the gastrointestinal tract.
Now you may be asking yourself, do I really need to know about parasites? Yes! Parasite prevention is incredibly important if you want your Bengal to stay healthy and thriving.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to all the common parasites your Bengal is susceptible to, as well as the ways you can prevent and eliminate them.
What Are Parasites?
When it comes to feline parasites, there are quite a few that can infect your Bengal – both external and internal.
Fleas and ticks are an example of external parasites. These parasites stick to the feline’s skin and fur and if treated, are the parasites that cause the least amount of concern.
Internal parasites infect the feline’s lungs, liver, heart, intestines, and stomach. These parasitic infections can cause much more fatal outcomes such as heartworms and infections in the gastrointestinal tract.
A parasite is an organism that attaches itself to a host – in this case, cats. These parasites can live inside or outside the body, causing many different types of diseases which in turn can be life-threatening. Aside from the ones caused by parasites, Bengal cats are prone to dental diseases too. Learn more about them by clicking on the link.
Your Bengal can pick up these parasites by:
- Eating contaminated food
- Being bit by a mosquito
- Meeting an animal who is already infected
- Drinking dirty water
- Bitten by a tick
- Cleaning their paws after being outside
More often than not, you’ll notice if your Bengal has external parasites since you can actually see them crawling around in their fur. However, some cats may show no signs at all, and it can be especially hard to tell if your Bengal has an internal infection.
What Are The Signs Of a Parasite Infection?
Like many types of infections and diseases in Bengal cats, the symptoms depend on the severity of the infection. In the case of your kitty, they could experience numerous symptoms or none at all.
Parasites such as fleas and ticks can be big enough to be spotted, especially since your Bengal will be scratching and itching much more than usual.
Other parasitic infections can be identified through one or more of these symptoms:
- Red and irritated skin
- Excessive scratching
- Skin lesions
- Hair loss
- Scratching the ears excessively
- Dirty ears
- Eating more than usual yet still losing weight
- Slow heartbeat
What Are External Parasites?
External parasites attach themselves to the cat’s fur, skin, or ears. They come in a few different forms including:
Fleas are the most common type of parasite around, attaching themselves to a whole range of animals such as birds, dogs, cats, and many other mammals.
Fleas feed on cats with their siphon-like mouths, piercing and sucking the blood of their hosts. If you find a flea on your Bengal, chances are it is an adult, since, for 3 out of 4 stages of their life, they live away from their hosts.
Legend has it that fleas will hop off their host, into the environment, and onto a new host, aka your Bengal. However, this is actually incorrect. A flea can only survive for a few days away from a host, so it’d much rather stick to the one it’s already found.
If your house is a suitable environment (warm and humid) it can become a breeding ground for fleas all year round.
If the infestation is caught early and treated accordingly, fleas often result in only irritation and scratching. However, some felines may have a much more serious allergic reaction to fleas, causing dermatitis.
If fleas are left untreated, they can also lead to tapeworms. Since fleas feed on the blood of their hosts, continued blood loss can lead to anemia, which is a huge risk for kittens.
- The Signs
Since fleas are incredibly irritating for your Bengal, you’ll most likely notice them excessively itching and scratching. Other signs include:
- Hair loss
- Red and infected skin
- Black specks in the fur and on the skin
- Chewing and licking
The irritated areas on your Bengal will include the neck, back, abdomen, and the base of the tail.
There are many ways you can protect your Bengal from these pests. A few of them include:
- Spot-on treatments
- Flea collars
Vets usually recommend spot-on treatments as they are more effective than other options. If you’re unsure which product or brand you should purchase, consult your vet to ensure you’re using a safe one.
If you suspect your Bengal cat has fleas, it’s best to consult a vet so they can recommend a treatment. Treating your Bengal for fleas is usually rather straightforward – it’s treating your house that is harder.
Fleas lay eggs that fall off your Bengal. These eggs will hatch inside your home and attach themselves to your Bengal once they become adults.
The fleas you see on your Bengal are only 5% of the problem since the other 95% come in the form of eggs and larvae. Therefore, eliminating the fleas on your Bengal is only half of the problem.
To get rid of the fleas from your home, you should:
- Use a powerful vacuum on your floors, mattresses, carpets, and upholstered furniture. Always dispose of the vacuum back once finished.
- Steam clean pet beds and upholstery.
- Wash all bedding and blankets (including your Bengal cats, as well as their plush toys) in hot water.
- Specialized chemical treatments.
Ticks are similar to fleas in the sense they feed off the blood of their hosts. However, unlike fleas, ticks are considered arachnids instead of insects.
Ticks can be red, brown, tan or black, and swell up to the size of a pea once fully fed. Not only can ticks cause irritation and anemia, but they can also pass on diseases to your Bengal.
Cats mainly catch ticks when they come into another infected animal. If your Bengal is an indoor cat, chances are they’ll catch ticks from you. If you like to go on walks in woodlands or fields, ticks can attach themselves to your clothes. Once in your home, they’ll hop off your clothes and right onto your Bengal.
- The Signs
Since ticks become quite large, you’ll usually be able to spot them sitting in your Bengal cat’s fur. Ticks have similar signs to fleas such as redness, itching, and scratching.
Ticks also carry many diseases, a common one known as ‘Q fever.’ If your Bengal contracts this disease, they may show the following signs:
- High fever
- Seizures (rarely, but it is possible)
Ticks will usually attach themselves to the head and neck of the cat. To check for ticks, part the fur and run your finger along their skin.
The best way to keep ticks away from your Bengal cat is to keep them indoors. Ensure you check your clothes if you’ve been walking through grassy areas so you don’t bring any fleas home.
Other ways to prevent ticks attaching themselves to your Bengal include:
- Spot-on treatments
- Tick collars
- Tick sprays
As tempting as it may be, never pull a tick from your Bengal cat’s skin. Doing so can leave the mouth of the tick still attached, which will cause inflammation and possible infection.
Consult your vet if you see a tick, and they will provide you with a special tool designed to remove them. This will ensure nothing gets left behind. If you’re worried that your Bengal may have contracted a disease due to a tick bite, visit the vet as soon as possible.
A few flea products on the market will also kill ticks, while other products will just protect against them. Always consult your vet before using any type of treatment on your Bengal.
Ear mites are tiny parasites, also referred to as Otodectes cynotis, common in both cats and dogs. These parasites look like white dots, however, it’s very difficult to see them with the naked eye.
Ear mites will get inside your Bengal cat’s ear canal and feed off the skin oils and ear wax. These parasites usually only live for around 2 months, but they can multiply quickly – taking just for days for their eggs to hatch.
Bengal cats of all ages can be affected, although outdoor cats are especially susceptible. Ear mites are transferred from host to host, so if your feline comes into contact with another cat who has ear mites, chances are they’ll get them too.
- The Signs
If your Bengal is suffering from ear mites, you’ll notice them scratching at their ears and shaking their head in an attempt to relieve the itchiness.
The most common symptoms include:
- Shaking their head
- Scratching the ears
- Red and inflamed ears
- Dry and dark discharge from the ear
- Scratch marks on the outer ear
- Scabs and blisters around the affected area
There are quite a few flea treatments out there that also cover ear mites. Ask your vet to recommend you an appropriate antiparasitic treatment.Keeping your Bengal indoors will significantly lower the risk of ear mites.
Depending on the severity of the ear mites, your vet will recommend an appropriate treatment.
Available treatments include:
- Getting their ears cleaned to remove wax buildup
- Spot-on treatments that prevent and treat mites
- Medication to relieve inflammation and itchiness
- Ear drops
The PetArmor Ear Mite Treatment for Cats is one I specifically recommend. It can be used by cats of all ages and can help remove ticks too. Just click the link to get it from Amazon.
Some of these treatments will also work to kill the mites’ eggs, so need to be carried out even after you think the mites have gone. If you have more than one pet in the home, they may also need treating.
Just like fleas, ear mites stick around in your home. Therefore you should also treat your environment to get rid of them and prevent re-infecting your Bengal.
What Are Internal Parasites?
Internal parasites, usually in the form of worms, can be especially life-threatening to kittens. Roundworms can lead to a stunt in growth development and hookworms can cause anemia.
Heartworms can be a threat to cats – transmitted by mosquitoes – that cause damage to the lungs and heart.
Internal parasites include:
If a Bengal kitten becomes infected with roundworms, this parasite can stunt their growth. When their growth is affected, so is their digestive system, resulting in excessive gas formation. Kittens with roundworms will often look pot-bellied.
Roundworms don’t require a host to spread from cat to cat, unlike external parasites. These worms can spread through ingestion of other infected feline feces.
Hookworm is one of the most common intestinal parasites found in cats. The hookworm measures about 2cms long and attaches itself to the small intestine lining. There, it will feed on the blood of it’s host.
Cats can become infected with hookworms when they come in contact with contaminated soil.
Hookworms can cause severe anemia in felines due to their blood-sucking nature. Eczema can also occur as a side effect of hookworm since they can either enter the feline through the mouth or bury their way through the skin.
Tapeworms are unlike other internal parasites in the sense they have to have an intermediate host (such as a bird or a flea) to infect a Bengal. This means an infected cat can’t pass tapeworm onto another cat.
A form of tapeworm, known as Dipylidium caninum, is rather common in cats. This can cause a whole range of problems such as stunting the growth of kittens and affecting digestive systems. A Bengal cat can become infected with this form of tapeworm if they ingest an infected flea.
Taenia is another form of tapeworm that infects adult cats. Taenia doesn’t cause many problems for adult cats if treated in time. This species of tapeworm can be passed from rodents such as rabbits and birds.
Unlike dogs, heartworm is quite uncommon in cats. However, it can happen, especially in certain areas of North America.
A Bengal cat becomes infected by heartworms if they have been bitten by a mosquito. When the mosquito feeds on a cat, it may inject the heartworm larvae into the bloodstream. These larvae will then make their way to the heart.
The symptoms of heartworms can vary, and they may lead to coughing, weight loss, rapid breathing, and vomiting. It is possible for a cat that is infected with heartworms to die suddenly.
Heartworms are much larger than other internal parasites, reaching sizes of 36cm long. They locate themselves in the right ventricle of the heart.
|Roundworms||can spread through ingestion of other feline feces|
|Hookworms||comes from contaminated soil and enters the feline’s|
body through their mouth or skin.
|Tapeworms||passed on from another infected host like a bird or a flea|
|Heartworms||injected into the cat’s bloodstream by a mosquito bite.|
What Are The Symptoms Of Worms In Cats?
If your Bengal is infected with worms, you may notice the following symptoms:
- White segments in the cat’s stool, bedding, or near their anus – they may look like grains of rice, but they are broken pieces of worms.
- Weight loss and a pot-belly stomach.
- Lack of energy
How Can I Prevent Worms In my Bengal cat?
To prevent your Bengal from contracting worms, you must give them worming treatment. Kittens especially should be wormed every two weeks, up to the age of 12 weeks old. They can then be treated every 3 months.
Pregnant felines should also be treated during mating and before giving birth to avoid passing worms to their kittens. Ask your vet to recommend which worming treatment you should give to your Bengal.
Ways in which you can prevent worms include:
- Cleaning your Bengal cat’s litter box daily
- Keep their environment clean
- Give deworming treatment regularly
How Can Worms Be Treated?
Always consult your vet if you’re concerned your Bengal could be infected with worms. There may be a few home remedies out there, but nothing will be better than medicine prescribed by your vet!
The Bottom Line
There are quite a few parasites out there, both internal and external, waiting to pray on your vulnerable Bengal. The best thing you can do for your kitty is ensuring they have their regular treatments of medication, such as flea treatments and deworming treatments.
Always consult your vet if you’re concerned your Bengal may be infected with parasites!