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Ask A Vet: Are Bed Bugs A Risk To My Cat Too?

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Bed bugs are parasites infesting an environment. A single adult bed bug can live for 6 to 12 months, feeding on blood every 3 to 4 days. Females lay eggs continuously, and the critters can be found in the United States and Canada.

Bed bugs usually prefer to bite humans, making itchy red bumps, but they can bite domestic pets as well. The bugs emerge at night to feed. Depending on the individual bitten, sometimes the bites do not produce a distinctive lesion, making identification of the source of the bite more difficult. If your cat travels with you, she can very certainly be bitten. If you happen to bring home an infestation, she could be bitten in your home as well.

Bed bugs more commonly infest areas with a more transient population, like motels or dormitories, but they can certainly come home with you on your luggage and travel gear. The risk has become high enough that all hotels are required to provide luggage stands to lift luggage from the floor and slow the spread.

The good news it is that bed bugs carry no diseases transmissible but to humans or pets and there are no long-term health issues related to their bite.

The bad news is that bed bugs seem to have developed a resistance to commonly available insecticide products. It is disgusting to imagine bugs lurking in your bedding, waiting to bite you and your cat and then proceed to lay eggs in your home constantly. Even if your cat is continuously protected by a flea/tick control product, these products are not labeled for control of bed bugs, so depending these as a sole control is a poor idea.

If you travel with your cat (or at all), inspect the bedding for signs of bed bugs. Do not store luggage on the bed or floor. If you buy used furniture, inspect it carefully before bringing it into your home. Don’t worry. Neither you or the cat will suffer any long term physical effects from bed bug bites, but you will probably never forget the yuck factor!

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Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm

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