Fleas are one of the most irritating problems that most cat-parents go through. If you are a cat-parent then fleas are inevitable.
However, if the fleas are left untreated then, it can take a huge shape. So, do not ignore it thinking ‘just a minor irritation’.
You must keep in mind that your kitten or cat can die from severe flea infestation.
It is possible to take care of it and get rid of fleas if noticed at an early stage. If you see these small little beasts on the cat’s back then you should take care of it as soon as possible.
In the early stage, natural or over-the-counter flea treatment is enough for treating fleas. Even if the fleas do not kill your cat, it might suffer from Feline Homotrophic Mycoplasmosis (FHM), anaemia, and plague.
All these diseases can result in death if left untreated. However, cat death from fleas is very rare.
How Do Cats Get Fleas?
Furry animals like cats or dogs pick up fleas at the groomers, kennels or even outside. If your cat spends most of its time inside then it will not get fleas.
But, cats like to go out of the house often and this is when they are more likely to pick fleas.
There are many different types of fleas but cat fleas are most common of all.
The interesting fact about fleas is they can jump to almost 12 inches high onto the host and they gradually feed and lay eggs on its fur.
The heavier the coat the more suitable it is for the cats.
Sometimes these pests fall off onto the house carpet and lay eggs there. These eggs then transform into flea larvae, pupae and finally the adult fleas.
These parasites also bite humans. These flea bites becomes worse if you have a child at home.
You must be wondering how the fleas live and reproduce in the carpet, right?
Well, when they cannot find enough food sources, they suck blood meals from the ankles and feet of the pet owner.
What are the symptoms of fleas on cats?
The fleas are active insects that feed on the blood from the cat. They often jump onto the nearby animals and humans and hide in the fur where they remain hidden and ingest blood as food.
This is quite painful for both the cat owners and the cat. The continuous biting of the fleas causes inflammation and severe itching.
Knowing the symptoms would help you to figure out whether your cat has fleas or not.
The following are the symptoms that your cat probably has fleas:
The continuous scratching at the ears and head
Licking of the underside especially between the hind legs
Biting and chewing themselves
Loss of fur from different areas of the body especially top-back because of itching and scratching
Swallowing and redness
Black particles on skin
The black particles on the skin of the cat are called flea dirt. According to Dr. de Jong, if you get one of these black droppings from the cat and wet it with a drop of warm water, it will immediately turn red.
This is because of the dried blood cells contained in the flea.
For checking the flea infestation, you can use a flea comb for brushing the cat to see if any fleas come with the comb. Sometimes rolling the animal over and blowing on its fur can reveal the hidden fleas or flea dirt as well.
Sometimes, the cat itches its body even if it’s not suffering from fleas. So, itching does not always mean that the cat has fleas. But, it is better to be safe than sorry.
As it poses a major health risk on your cat, you should see a veterinarian for confirming the fleas infesting or other possible causes.
How To Get Rid Of Fleas?
The warm and furry coat along with the nourishing blood of your cat is the dream home of fleas. To protect your pet from these tiny pests you need a flea barrier.
There are different types of protection that you can use to get rid of fleas.
There are many over the counter ointments, sprays, and shampoos available for managing the fleas. You can either buy them online or the vet. But, before using the product, we recommend asking the vet for the dosage of the product.
If you are not going to the vet then, you should read the instructions written on the product. Some of the common brands are:
A flea collar with imidacloprid and flumethrin also works well. The collar will protect your cat from getting fleas.
The Capstar or nitenpyram pill is very effective in killing fleas within 30 minutes. However, this medicine lacks lasting effects.
Another fast-acting chewable tablet is Spinosad or Comfortis. This tablet starts to kill the fleas before they lay eggs. This medicine provides a 30 days long-term solution from fleas and also prevents future hatchings.
What are some home remedies to get rid of fleas?
Seeing your vet is highly recommended. Along with applying for the medicines, you can also try incorporating these home remedies for a quicker and better result.
Give your cata bath:
The best way to handle the fleas in the body of the cats is to use flea shampoo while bathing. You can use Dawn dish detergent although many vets around the world recommend using reputable brand flea shampoo.
Flea shampoo should only be used if you are not using any flea preventive. This is because some of the cats have very sensitive skin reaction and it is better not to mix up two different types of flea medication in the system of your pet.
Flea combs are great to remove flea eggs from the fur of the pet. Most of the brands recommend dipping the comb into soapy hot water each time after combing your pet’s fur.
This will trap the flea in warm water. Always remember to comb in the direction of hair growth. Repeat this procedure at least twice a day for a month. You will see a noticeable change in a short time.
As we mentioned before, the fleas, a lot of the times hiding in the carpets and other places of the home. You surely do not want them back on your cat. Right? In such a case, treating your home becomes a necessity.
Removing fleas from your cat is not enough. According to Dr. de Jong, flea life cycle spent 20% of their lifetime on the host and the rest of their life in the environment.
How to get rid of house fleas?
Getting rid of house fleas is quite similar to taking precautions against bed bugs, moulds, or lice. You may follow the steps given:
- Vacuum the carpets, sofa, floors and other furniture that are around your pet daily.
- Once you are done vacuuming, seal and dispose of the bag immediately. Do not leave it unattended.
- Steam cleaning the carpets, blankets, sofa cover, and bed is the best way to kill any lingering fleas or flea eggs.
- Every two weeks, wash the family and pet bedding with soapy water.
You can contact a professional exterminator for handling the flea situation. You can also apply the available insecticide in your house.
Here, you need to keep in mind that, using a human and pet-friendly insecticide is very important.
You are dealing with the wellness of your pet and family members.
The most effective insecticide for treating the home and yard contains ingredients like dinotefuran, imidacloprid, or permethrin.
These kill adult female fleas and act as wingless insects growth regulator.
While using the insecticides in your home, always read the label and precautions before even opening the tube. It is normal to see adult cat fleas right after treating the home.
In such a case, you should use vacuum cleaner for the place right away & remove vacuum bags to prevent flea eggs from hatching inside. Continue vacuum sometimes is enough to stop the fleas from spreading in the household.
What about the stubborn fleas in Cats?
There are some fleas that stick around no matter what treatment you have used so far. Such a situation needs serious steps.
You need to take out all pets and family members out of the house then, with an expert cover every possible item in the house (carpets especially) with flea spray.
Sprays containing pyriproxyfen or methoprene work the best against the fleas. If you do not want to use chemicals in the house, go for the citrus spray.
Keep everyone including the pets away until the surfaces are dry.
Also, if you have more than one pet, then ensure that it gets flea treatment as well. To deal with the stubborn ones, call the nearest flea expert.
Persistence is the best option when it is about fleas. It is possible to protect your pet and household if measures are taken immediately.