While Australia is officially a nation of cat lovers, a concerning number of owners aren’t prioritising parasite protection and helping prevent some common cat diseases.
New research shows 91% of owners consider their cat as a family member.
While 84% say they’re a constant companion, and 77% help them through tough times.
With statistics like this, you’d think we would also be well ahead with preventative care for our beloved felines.
However, the research also reveals a staggering four out of five cat owners are not following best practice guidelines.
This includes simple preventative measures like deworming their cats monthly and using year-round flea control.
This will come as no surprise to cat owners; the survey shows that the stress of medicating cats may be a contributing factor to this undertreatment.
And that stress is for both the cat and the owner!
Nearly half saying they find administering tablets stressful for their cat (46%) and themselves (45%).
The findings coincide with the launch of Australia’s first and only all-in-one parasite protection for cats.
NexGard SPECTRA® Spot-on for Cats protects against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm, lungworm and intestinal worms, including tapeworm, with one simple monthly topical application.
That means that owners only have to go through the preventative process once a month.
Feline expert and veterinarian, Dr Katherine Briscoe says the product’s launch is a breakthrough in parasite control.
“Parasite protection is a critical aspect of preventative healthcare for cats,” she says.
“But, importantly, it’s also crucial for protecting the humans of the house also.
Dr Briscoe says some cat parasites can infect people too, meaning there’s a serious risk of illness to the owners as well.
“The survey results highlight that most cat owners are not doing enough to protect their cats or their families against parasites,” she says.
“This product addresses what cat owners are looking for with seven in 10 (76%) stating all-in-one treatments and ease of application are important when considering parasite control.”
More than 80 percent of pet cats in Australia have some access to the outdoors.
The survey shows seven out of 10 owners let their cats outside for their mental health (76%) and physical (74%) wellbeing.
“Cats and their natural behaviours and instincts place them at high risk of parasites,” Dr Katherine says,.
“In outdoor cats, roaming exposes them to fleas, ticks, intestinal parasite eggs, and larvae shed by other pets and wildlife.
“Grooming behaviour can also result in ingestion of fleas containing flea tapeworm larvae.
“(and) hunting exposes cats to roundworm, lungworm and tapeworms carried by the animals they prey upon.”
Seven in 10 (68%) owners of indoor cats say they stay inside for protection against infectious diseases and parasites.
While outdoor cats are at greater risk of acquiring parasites, their indoor counterparts can’t avoid them entirely.
Indoor cats can still be exposed to parasites a number of ways, like worm eggs brought in on shoes for example.
Other risks are catching parasite-infested pests in the home, or being bitten by a heartworm-infected mosquito.
Dr Katherine says that half of all cat owners who don’t treat their cat say it’s because they’re inside.
“The research highlights this is a commonly held misconception among owners of indoor cats,” she says.
“While the risk of parasites is undoubtedly lower for such cats, it is still there.
“In fact, a study from overseas showed that one in five cats who test positive for intestinal worms were “indoor only”.
“We know how important preventative healthcare is in cats, yet historically compliance with recommendations has been very poor for many cats.
“We need to make things “cat” and “owner” friendly to help overcome this.
“By reducing stress for both cat and owner, the launch of NexGard SPECTRA® Spot-On for Cats will help optimise compliance and will give cat lovers the peace of mind knowing their cat, and their family, are protected against parasites,” she adds.