Fleas may be tiny but they can make your cat miserable! If your feline friend is being tormented by fleas, our PetVet Care Centers veterinary team has some advice on how to get rid of them, along with how to prevent your cat from getting fleas in the future.
Your Cat & Fleas
Fleas are tiny creatures that can cause some huge headaches for pet parents - not to mention real torment for our feline friends. If you've found fleas on your cat, or think that your kitty might have fleas, you're likely frantically searching for the best, safest way to get rid of them. Our PetVet Care Centers member vets are here to help.
What Fleas Are & How They Live
This external parasite relies on a host animal tor their survival - in this case, your cat. Once one of these troublesome critters lands on your kitty, they can quickly make themselves at home and start multiplying at an alarming rate. Some estimates have found that for every adult flea you find on your cat, there can be 100 or more immature fleas hiding in your cat's coat.
In addition, if your pet has fleas, there's a good chance that they are also invading your home, hiding in soft furnishings and carpets.
Signs That Your Cat May Have Fleas
In some cases, you might simply see small brown fleas jumping and moving on your cat's skin or through their fur.
If your cat is allergic to proteins found in flea saliva, they will likely scratch and bite at their skin. You may also see them shake their head repeatedly, groom excessively or become agitated or restless.
Cats with fleas can also develop red scabs or bumps, and bald patches.
To check your cat for fleas, run a fine-toothed metal flea comb through your cat's fur to pick up any eggs or fleas, then immediately dip the comb into hot soapy water to kill any fleas you combed out of your cat's coat. This can be done several times a day.
Not Just an Itchy Nuisance
The itchy bites can lead many cats to scratch and groom themselves excessively until the bites become inflamed, infected, and even more uncomfortable.
While the discomfort your cat feels should be enough of a reason to take action, fleas can also transmit tapeworms to your kitty. Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that can make your cat very uncomfortable and lead to weight loss and perianal itching. Tapeworms can also be transmitted from cats to humans!
How to Check Your Cat for Fleas
If you haven't been able to spot any fleas on your cat you may want to try running a fine-toothed metal flea comb (available at most pet stores) through your cat's fur to pick up any fleas or eggs, then immediately dip the comb in hot soapy water to kill anything you combed out of your cat's coat. This can be done several times a day, and should give you a clear indication of whether your cat has fleas.
If you can't find any sign of fleas but your cat is still itching and scratching it's time to head to the vet. Itchy skin can be a sign of an underlying health condition or allergy that needs to be addressed.
Flea Treatment for Cats
If your cat does have fleas, prompt action is required. The longer the fleas hang around the more quickly they will multiply and the harder it will be to get rid of them!
To rid your cat of fleas while protecting their health contact your vet's office for recommendations on safe and effective flea treatments for cats. Your vet may recommend fast-acting medications, sprays, or drops to address your cat's flea issue.
Consulting your vet not only helps to protect your cat's health while treating fleas, but it may also save you money since many store-bought flea treatments require repeated applications over time to resolve the flea infestation.
While a number of shampoos and topical treatments such as sprays are available in shops for treating cat fleas, many only kill adult fleas present at the time of application with limited lasting effects. This can result in recurring infestations that become increasingly difficult to deal with.
The safety and effectiveness of cat flea collars is hotly contested and you should always speak to your vet before using a flea collar on your cat.
Ridding Your Environment of Fleas
To get rid of your cat's fleas you will also need to get rid of any fleas lurking in your home.
Be sure to treat any other pets in your household to ensure that fleas aren't passed from one pet to another.
Flea eggs nestle in your soft furnishings and rugs and need to be removed as quickly as possible. Vacuum daily to help get flea eggs out of your carpets and upholstery.
Wash any bedding, cushion covers or removable upholstery covers that your cat comes in contact with at least once a week.
Treat rugs and soft furnishings with flea spray. Be sure to follow directions carefully and keep all pets and small children out of the room until the treatment has dried.
In some cases calling in a professional to address your flea infestation will be the quickest and easiest way to deal with your flea infestation.
Preventing Your Cat from Getting Fleas
When it comes to fleas, prevention can be far easier and often cheaper than treating them once they have become a problem. There are a number of very effective flea prevention products on the market. Contact your vet to find out more about protecting your kitty against fleas and other potentially serious parasites.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.