Categories: Infection

Protecting cats from Triple E

Early warning: My research on this indicates a danger for cats. The byword is that caution is required when spraying insect repellant around the home. It can harm cats.

Mosquito on cat’s ear flap. Each image in the public domain.

Triple E is in the news because people in America are dying from it (EEE – Eastern equine encephalitis). A third of humans exposed to it die from this brain infecting disease. The disease has been detected in New York. There have been multiple cases in New Jersey and Connecticut apparently.

“We don’t want people to be alarmed but rather informed,” said Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken.

My first thoughts are how to protect domestic cats from the disease as well. As it happens the same techniques protect both cats and humans and they are pretty straightforward because this viral disease is carried by mosquitos.

As there is no cure and no vaccination for Triple E, you have to prevent it. Humans are more vulnerable to mosquito bites because they are not covered by dense fur but cats are still vulnerable on their ears and noses where fur is sparse.

It is mainly present in the northeastern United States in wooded and swampy areas during late spring and early autumn (fall). It is also present in America’s southern states during winter.

America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide information on the most effective way to prevent infection from Triple E and as stated it is about preventing mosquito bites.

I’ll refer you to the CDC webpage for the fine detail (please click on this link). In the round, preventing mosquito bites means employing an EPA-registered insect repellant which are said to be safe and effective. There is a very useful interactive tool on the EPA website which helps the user to select the right insect repellant (click this to go to the page and scroll down). Warning: check with a good veterinarian as well because these chemicals are dangerous. You cannot be careful enough in using these products in regard to protecting cats and dogs. Don’t take shortcuts or become frustrated and impatient.

For instance, I am told that DEET and other insect repellants for humans should not be applied to cats or dogs. This is so vital. Once again: please be extremely cautious and seek professional advice on the correct insect repellant for domestic cats.

Also an insect repellant for dogs is toxic to cats. It is K9 Advantix II® by Bayer Animal Health. Don’t use it on cats.

The benefits outweigh the risk in using them provided they are used per instructions. They need to be used with respect and care which means always understanding and following the instructions.

Other preventative steps include (1) wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants (trousers) and (2) taking steps to prevent the presence of mosquitos inside the home.

This might mean checking that the insect screens are in good condition and wearing clothes treated with permethrin. I would use extreme caution if this method is employed. Advocates of keeping cats inside the home at all times will cite Triple E as another reason why it is a wise choice.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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