Creepy crawlies giving your kitty a bad time? The mere thought of them giving you the wrong kind of feels? Well, you’re not alone.
For as long as we've had cats for pets, fleas and ticks have been the bane of our existence.
Fret not! We’ve broken it down for you. Here’s everything you need to know about how to control and prevent fleas in cats.
What are cat fleas?
The Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is a rather common species of fleas after dog fleas. These critters are known to infest not only cats but are capable of biting humans too.
These extremely small, wingless insects require blood meals from their host to survive. To the naked eye, they appear like tiny, shiny black dots. Beware! They multiply extremely fast as a female flea can lay up to 30 eggs a day.
How do I know if my cat has fleas?
It’s almost impossible to avoid having your cats pick up fleas from their surroundings. Even a quick interaction with another cat would suffice.
This holds true for housebound cats as well. You could bring fleas home on your clothing if you’re the kind of pawrent that cheats on your kitty with other cats! Just kidding.
The commonest symptom of cat fleas is itching. Unlike dogs that often don’t scratch when infested with fleas, cats almost always do, making it easier to identify and treat.
A flea bite releases anticoagulants into your cat’s skin to make its blood easier to suck. Your kitty’s immune system reacts to it (as it's a foreign substance), and an inflammatory response soon ensues. This includes redness, swelling and, of course, itchiness.
Numerous flea bites can cause much discomfort and lead to your kitty being highly irritable and off mood. So pay close attention to them, and you’ll notice something’s off.
What diseases can these fleas cause?
Flea Allergy Dermatitis is a consequence of a lack of treatment and preventative care. It's a skin condition in cats that include redness, bumps, pustules and scabs. When untreated, crusty lesions develop, often leading to fur loss. This is common in strays and even in certain shelters.
A common problem caused by fleas is tapeworms. As cats tend to eat the cat fleas that infest them (to relieve the itchiness), tapeworms begin to develop in their gut.
Flea anaemia is a condition when your kitty loses too many red blood cells from cat flea bites. Symptoms include lethargy, poor feeding and irritability.
How do you get rid of cat fleas?
Start by shampooing and combing your furry companion frequently to remove adult fleas, preventing them from laying eggs.
Shampoo around the neck before shampooing the body, as fleas will immediately migrate to the head if they notice water on the body.
Put your kitty on a white surface like a bed sheet or large towel. Comb gently with a flea comb, and if you come across tiny black dots, they’re fleas! If you’re getting lumps, moisten them with a wet towel. If they turn red, they’re flea droppings (as they mostly contain blood).
Drop the fleas and rinse the comb in a mixture of hot water and washing detergent to instantly kill them.
Most vets agree that when it comes to fleas, prevention is better than cure. Your vet will recommend preventative flea treatment for cats with products that include active ingredients like Fipronil, Geraniol and Selamectin. A flea collar is also a popular preventative tool.
Once already infested, flea medicine for cats includes Nitenpyram and Spinosad. Do consult your vet for the best cat flea treatment that will suit your kitty the best.
Nitenpyram is a pill your cat can take that will kill adult fleas on your cat within 30 minutes. It, unfortunately, doesn’t have any long-lasting effects. On the other hand, Spinosad is a rapid-acting chewable pill that kills fleas before they lay eggs and provides a full month of protection against future hatchings.
When buying cat flea meds online, ensure these products are for cats and NOT for dogs, as they can be quite harmful to your furbaby.
Once you’ve established that fleas are present, you will need to de-flea your home. All surfaces and clothing would need to be disinfected.
As most of these medications are considered preventative treatment, similar to supplements in humans, they are rarely covered by your pet insurance provider.
Do fleas go away on their own?
That’s very unlikely unless the host becomes inhospitable. It’s common knowledge that fleas require a host to survive (and feed off). Once a flea finds a host (your cat in this case), it is not going to leave for the remainder of its life cycle. Adult fleas don’t go out of their way to find a new host.
Left untreated, they multiply rapidly and could leave your furry friend rather ill. Preventative care and quick detection with early intervention is the way to go.
Are ticks & fleas the same thing?
Ticks are parasites that attach themselves to hosts, feed on blood, and transmit diseases directly into your pet.
While fleas also suck blood, they are wingless insects that feed exclusively on blood from a host.
Can people get fleas from cats?
Fleas can bite humans, just as they bite cats, but they won’t stay or live on our bodies. As they are adapted to live on furry hosts, they can’t attach to human skin and are often seen and killed before feeding.
Cat fleas often bite humans on the lower legs, leaving round, red spots with minor itchiness. Some people can develop allergic reactions to cat flea bites. These include excessive itching, localised swelling and secondary infections. These individuals require medical attention and should stay away from infected areas and pets.
Any quick tips to get rid of fleas?
If you suspect you might have fleas at home. Put some soapy water in a saucer and light a candle in the middle. Fleas don’t have good eyesight, so they’ll think the heat is a living host and subsequently drown in the water.
There you go! All you need to know about cat fleas and how you can live a flea-free life with your furry friend.