Every cat owner will have to deal with their pet having fleas at some point. It’s not a nice thing to have to sort out, and your cat will certainly be having a worse time over it than you. Therefore, it is important that you get this problem resolved as quickly as possible so that you and your cat can be happy again.
The ugly truth about fleas
The common cat flea (also known as Ctenocephalides Felis) is about 1 to 2 mm long and is black or reddish-brown in appearance. They are very thin insects and can often be hard to find in a cat’s fur.
Female fleas lay their eggs in a cat’s fur roughly 48 hours after mating with a male flea. They lay eggs in batches of 20 to 50 per day over an 8 week period, and each egg takes about two weeks to hatch.
After going through many larval stages, fully developed adult fleas will start to look for a host to extract blood from – in this case they will hop back on to the cat – and they will also reproduce with female fleas. Adult fleas can only live about a week without food (blood) but can survive several years in ideal conditions.
It is important to note that fleas don’t discriminate on what host they use to feed on – fleas that feed on cats will often jump onto humans and feed on their blood too – so this can present a problem for cat owners personally as well as their pets.
The effect on cats
Cats that have large flea infestations could potentially lose a lot of bodily fluid, resulting in dehydration. Some cats may develop an allergy to flea bites, which would cause them to excessively scratch the affected areas and potentially develop a skin disease.
If kittens are infested with fleas, the problem could be potentially fatal or in the least cause anaemia.
How to get rid of cat fleas
If you think that your cat may have fleas, then our handy checklist will help you to diagnose and if required treat your cat.
1. Diagnosis – If your cat is scratching their body a lot, you notice a lot of bite marks on your body, or you see some insects jumping around on your cat, then your cat probably has a flea infestation.
An easy way to check is to use a comb on your cat’s fur whilst holding a piece of white paper underneath it. If you see any tiny, dark objects or insects falling down onto the paper, then your cat definitely has fleas.
2. Treatment – the best thing to do is to visit your vet, as they can advise on the best course of action for treating your cat, including prescribing effective treatment.
Alternatively, you may administer your cat with some cat flea treatment (also available as a shampoo, lotion or spray) from a pet shop. If you have more than one cat, then you should treat all of them regardless of whether the other cats have fleas or not.
3. Prevention – you will need to thoroughly vacuum and clean your home to prevent any new flea infestations from occurring in the future. If your vacuum cleaner uses dust bags, you should dispose of them after each use of it to prevent any flea eggs you may have vacuumed up from hatching.
Wash all cat bedding or blankets, and then use a special aerosol on them and other parts of your home afterwards to help prevent any new infestations.