In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog sponsored by Elanco, Ellen M. Carozza, LVT (TheCATLVT) reviews how we need to consider lifestyle and life stage for our feline friends when it comes to preventative medicine. Please note the opinions in this blog are the expressed opinion of the author and not directly endorsed by VETgirl.
By Ellen M. Carozza, LVT (TheCATLVT)
Considering lifestyle and life stage for our feline friends when it comes to fleas and ticks: A new cat on the block
In veterinary medicine, we know how hard it is to get our feline friends in for their yearly examinations and preventative care as cats have the continued reputation of being labeled as the “low maintenance, low cost and self-sufficient pet,” as they are masters at masking disease. However, those of us who work with cats on the clinical level know how false that statement is, especially in a medical crisis. When asked, many cat owners find simply bringing their cat to the vet an extremely stressful event which leads to fewer wellness visits over the years than we would like to see. Which is why providing preventative medicine is even more important for our feline patients.
Regardless of their popularity as pets, indoor cats are continually viewed as “little risk for disease” as they do not go outside, which makes educating those clients a bit more of a challenge as you have to explain in greater detail how being boxed up in a home does not necessarily mean “healthier” as well as dealing with the very broad definition of what a client defines an “indoor cat” as. If the cat has access to fresh outdoor air, including a screened window or porch or even the newly popular “catios”; that is not an indoor cat. Yet, clients still categorize them as so because their cats are not wandering the neighborhood.
Most clients will admit fully their cat can be difficult to medicate, which make choosing the right product for clients and their cat a challenge as you do have to take into the account of the client’s needs ensuring their cat is going to get their monthly preventative and not give up after one negative interaction between the cat and owner. Cats are masterful at manipulating their pet parent’s emotions, and after a negative experience they can convince their human never again shall they attempt such an un-dignifying experiment again. Our clients want to care for their cat, they simply lack the confidence in themselves and the product to follow through with the care you’ve prescribed for them.
Currently, topical flea and tick preventatives along with collars dominate the veterinary market with too many choices available that boast incredible safety margins. Yet, all a client needs is one bad experience with a product we recommend and it can stop them from providing future flea and tick prevention as they tend to lump all topical medications into one category. Despite the brand we’ve recommended, it hurt their wallet and their cat physically, therefore these types of preventatives are bad. However, there aren’t many options out there for long term flea and tick prevention other than topicals or collars for cats. How does a clinician recover a client from a negative experience with a medication meant to keep their cat healthy? Antibiotics, pain control and dewormers for cats have multiple forms to meet a variety of needs — why not flea and tick control?
With the various feline lifestyles recognized in veterinary medicine, not all of those cats get to benefit from flea and tick prevention as a clinic tends to focus mostly on the indoor cat. With more clients fostering cats and kittens from shelters and rescues; some even caring for outdoor cat colonies. As veterinary professionals, we need to focus on all lifestyles of cats. This not only keeps our client’s indoor cats safer, but the clients as well from being exposed to fleas and ticks. We need better options for the cats we see and don’t see in practice. Options that may recover the reluctant client to put their cat back on a long term flea and tick preventative without the negative response from the cat.
Options Are Everything…
Recently, Elanco launched a new oral form of flea and tick preventative called Credelio Cat (lotilaner) (2), with the main ingredient being lotilaner; a member of the isoxazoline class. Isoxazolines are potent inhibitors of the gamma-aminobutyric acid-gated chloride channels, resulting in rapid death of fleas and ticks after oral administration (3). The highly potent and unique nature of lotilaner allowed for the creation of an effective oral flea and tick treatment for cats but in a small, easy-to-administer chewable tablet. Credelio Cat is extra purified having the Inactive parts (enantiomer) removed which lessens strain on cat’s system resulting in better efficacy with the same dose of the drug and with less potential for side effects (4).
With oral medications in general, the fight for client and patient compliance can be even more difficult due to concerns of palatability, size, and absorption rates along with the possibility of esophageal strictures. One of the most common complaints I see in the feline-only practice I reside in is how clients continually perceive that it is going to be difficult to pill their cat. Even mentioning the word “pill” makes many clients wilt regardless of the tactics we can provide them for success. While we take medicating our feline patients for granted as we have this technique down in practice, it’s not that easy for many of our clients who want to maintain an emotionally intimate relationship with their pet. Why not create a preventative that addresses all of the concerns while giving an option other than a topical for long term, highly effective flea control?
Credelio CAT is specifically designed and developed for the feline species by paying close attention to feline physiology and behavior. Size, smell and long lasting were the three key areas of focus to create a mini tablet that increased the ease of administration as >99% of cats were effectively dosed at home during a large field study. Elanco put the needs of cats first, focusing on the final product when it came to taste and smell. Anatomically, cats do not have a lot of taste buds, but they do have seven(7) bitter receptors that make medicating cats more difficult, so why not have the cats pick what they prefer helping create a more successful product? After testing, the combination of aromatic vanilla and savory yeast were the most appealing flavors to cats.
Currently, Credelio CAT is the only oral flea and tick preventative on the market labeled for a month-long prevention. In market research, nearly 80% of cat owners would utilize an oral, pleasant flavored mini tablet if available for use, making oral medication a new option for these patients. With cats and medication, size does matter to the client for them to consider the feat successful. Because it’s a tasty flavored chewable, owners can use it as bonding or treat like experience. It is recommended to give Credelio CAT to be given with a small meal or treats as that helps increase the bioavailability of lotilaner to 100%. You can expect to start seeing results as little as six (6) hours with peak blood concentrations that are reached within four (4) hours and a half-life of over four (4) weeks. Within twenty-four (24) hours, expect 100% efficacy from the product.
Credelio® CAT (lotilaner) gives you, the clinician, another effective option for cats and owners who may not prefer topicals or collars. Nearly 75% of cat owners would like to try new methods of flea control and 88% would try Credlio CAT when informed about the product and the ways it can enhance the human-animal bond when medicating their cat and not as it being interpreted as a negative experience (5).
While all preventatives can come with side effects, studies have shown Lotilaner has a wide margin of safety making this a safe and effective form of flea and tick prevention. One must weigh the risks vs. benefits for the various feline lifestyles by helping prevent parasitic zoonosis. It is not recommended to administer Credelio CAT to kittens less than eight (8) weeks of age or less than two (2) pounds. It is important to have a discussion with your client on what options work for them and their pet
As a veterinary professional I am excited to see the latest option for an oral flea and tick prevention in cats that focuses on the various feline lifestyles, catering to the specific feline senses and helping enhance the human-animal bond again on the market.
4. Toutain C, Seewald W, Jung M. The intravenous and oral pharmacokinetics of lotilaner in dogs. Parasite Vector. 2017;10:522
5. Elanco Animal Health. Data on File.