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What To Do If Your Cat Is Infested With Fleas

How Did My Cat Get Fleas

My Cat Has Fleas, Now What?

One study detailed in Veterinary Parasitology found a flea that could jump 19 inches in one hop, or 160 times its body length. These jumping skills help these nonflying parasites travel easily from the ground to a new host or from host to host. Animals commonly found in your backyard such as raccoons, mice, possums and others more than likely carry fleas and can leave behind fleas or larvae in your yard that can easily enter your home by hitchhiking on you or a dog coming in from outdoors. Fleas can easily jump from pet to pet, no matter the species. Your cat could even simply have attracted a flea by sitting peacefully in front of their favorite screened window.

How Cats Get Fleas

Most cats have thick fur and warm skin, a perfect harboragefor fleas. Also, they are vulnerable sources of nourishing blood that will keepthe flea infestation going.

So how does a cat acquire fleas? There are a variety ofpossible scenarios here, but the following are the most common:

*Exposure to infestedpets If another pet visited your home before the flea infestation, itspossible that your cat acquired it from that other kitty or doggo. Take notethat dog fleas can also infect cats and vice versa. These two flea species alsoattack humans for blood.

*You brought your catoutdoors It can be challenging to identify where you cat got the fleas.However, the outdoor environment is one of the common culprits. Fleas can bedropped on the ground and transferred to your feline.

*Your home has anexisting infestation If you have a new cat and it got infested with fleasafter a week or two, you should consider that your home is the source.Sometimes, fleas just hide on tiny crevices until a food source is available.Take note that an adult flea can survive up to 100 days without feeding.

Take note that these are just some of the possible ways thatyour cat can acquire fleas.

How To Treat Fleas In Your Cats Environment

The treatment and management of fleas can be incredibly frustrating. The perfect flea control plan targets all of the stages in the flea life cycle because the majority of fleas are found off the pet and around the home. This means that treating the indoor environment is also important when fighting a flea infestation. Household or outdoor flea treatment sprays must NEVER be used on animals as they contain toxic ingredients that can cause severe and sometimes fatal side effects.

Before using household flea treatment sprays, all people and pets, including birds, reptiles, insects, and spiders should be removed from the home. Follow all instructions for household flea treatment sprays before using. After waiting the instructed amount of time after use, ventilate the home by opening windows and doors for at least an hour before allowing children or pets back inside.

Vacuum all floors, especially floorboards and under beds/furniture, and upholstered furniture every day for 14 days after your home has been treated. The vibrations from vacuuming attract larvae from within the carpet, and unhatched eggs hatch out and die from the chemical treatment. Remember to throw away or empty the vacuum cleaner bag outside or place the contents of the vacuum cleaner in a plastic bag, tie it up and dispose of it away from your home. Wash any cat beds or blankets in hot water to kill flea eggs and larvae.

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Treat Your Home And Yard

Carpets can be a hot zone for flea activity even after youve battled the invasion. To keep your home and your cat flea-free, youll need to use a three-pronged attack.

  • Vacuum everything. Youll have to vacuum your floors to rid your home of adult fleas, eggs, and larvae. If at all possible, change out your vacuum bag once youve finished. If you have a canister vacuum, empty it into a trash can filled with hot water and dish soap without touching the contents.
  • Once youve vacuumed your floors thoroughly, its time to tackle your home with a steam cleaner. Heat and soap are lethal to fleas, so steam-clean all pet beds, mattresses, and upholstery. You should wash your bedding in hot water, too.
  • Lastly, use an aerosol insecticide designed to kill fleas in places you cant steam-clean or vacuum. Please note that cats and children shouldnt be around the spray until it has dried, and youll probably want to wear gloves while you work.

Getting rid of fleas can be challenging, but it doesnt have to be. Keeping your cat indoors, investing in a spot treatment to prevent fleas from viewing your cat as a movable feast, and acting quickly at the first sign of fleas all help tackle current infestations and prevent future problems. If your cat refuses to stay indoors only, try lining your yard with cedar chips, which help deter fleas. Discovering that your cat has fleas is upsetting, but if you follow our tips, your cat and your home can stay flea-free.

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Risks Of Fleas Oncats

What Do Fleas Look Like? Pictures of Fleas, Eggs, Larvae, Bites

Fleas dont just irritate the skin of your kitty it alsobrings various diseases that will compromise the health of your pets. Hereshow dangerous fleas can be, much so if left untreated.

*Skin irritation

The leading impact of fleas among cats is skin irritation.Since the bites itch, your pet will scratch the affected area continuously,causing wounds and scabs all over.

If this is untreated, the open wounds would be a perfectgateway for a variety of infections.

Usually, cats will develop the so-called Flea AllergyDermatitis . This happens when the cats become hypersensitive to bites.

The flea saliva triggers the immune system to respond to theirritation. What happens here is that the effect of the fleas extends beyondthe bites. Over time, this will lead to widespread infection on the skin.


Also called Bartonella, this is an infection caused by abacteria found in flea feces. If the feces were dropped on the bitten orwounded areas, your cat would likely become infected.

A lot of cats dont exhibit strong clinical symptoms ofBartonella. Usually, this infection will cause heart disease, eye inflammation,mouth and gum disease, and other conditions.

Moreover, cats can be a host to the infection and carry itfor a long time. Theres also a chance that they can transfer it to the feedingfleas and into other cats.


Fleas are notorious for being the carriers of variousdiseases, bacteria, and infection. One of which is tapeworms.


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How To Remove Fleas

Be sure to remove fleas as soon as possible. You will need to use a flea comb on your pet and then place the fleas and eggs in hot soapy water to kill them. Next, its time for a bath. Your veterinarian can recommend the best flea shampoo for your pet.

Remember that fleas can live in your home as well. Youll need to thoroughly vacuum your entire home, including carpets, mattresses, and upholstery and throw away the vacuum bag immediately. Luckily, using the hot cycle on your washing machine will kill any fleas on your blankets, bedding, or plush toys.

Symptoms & Signs Of Fleas In Cats

The most obvious symptom of fleas in cats is scratching and itching more than usual. If you notice your cat suddenly scratching much more, as if theyre in pain or highly irritated, try using a flea comb to look for signs of fleas.

Adult fleas are visible to the naked eye, but theyre fast and can easily hide in your cats fur. They are usually brown or reddish brown in color and have six legs.

Because fleas are so small and quick, you may be able to spot what is known as flea dirt more easily. Flea dirt is the feces of fleas. It may look like tiny grains of pepper or flecks of dirt.

You can find it fairly easily on cats with light colored fur, but it may be more difficult to spot against dark fur. To confirm that its flea dirt and not ordinary dirt, you can run a comb through your cats coat, which should pull some of the dirt off and possibly some adult fleas, as well.

Place the residue on a wet paper towel. Flea dirt will appear to have a rust color as it dissolves because it contains traces of blood, while regular dirt will be black or dark brown.

Flea bites appear, like other insect bites, as small, red lesions. The most common places that flea bites appear are on the groin, hind legs, and the back between the ribs and the tail.

Beyond the irritation that comes from being bitten by fleas, if the infestation is left untreated, some other conditions might also arise. Common secondary conditions caused by fleas include:

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Signs Your Cat Has Fleas

If your cat starts grooming much more than usual, scratching or has itching or loss of hair at the base of their tail, fleas may be the cause, Dr. Bales told The Dodo.

You might also notice your cats more restless than usual, shakes her head often or has scabs appearing on her body.

Surprisingly, you probably wont actually see many fleas on your cat, though since cats are such expert groomers.

Its more likely youll see flea dirt on your cat, which looks like ground coffee beans in her fur.

Keep Your Cat On A Monthly Cat Flea

What to Do with a Flea Infestation | Chewy

Your furry friend depends on you for its safety. Fleas on cats can cause a number of health problems. If left unchecked, they can cause fatal illnesses. You can begin with keeping your cat on a monthly flea-prevention program.

There are different types of such programs available. You choose from sprays, oral solutions, tablets, collars, and topical solutions. Please do not rely on dog flea control programs. They can jeopardize your cats health and cause serious issues.

Whatever monthly cat flea-prevention program you choose should be explicitly marked safe for cats. Oral flea medications can be given to your kitty on a monthly basis. They work on their bodies in a way that the cats blood becomes toxic for fleas- without harming the cat itself.

Next, you have topical solutions like Cheristin. You will need to apply this solution on one spot of your cat. Preferably somewhere your kitty cannot reach up and lick it off. I apply it right behind my cats neck, between the shoulder blades. However hard she tries, she cant take her tongue there

Topical solutions act fast and their effect lasts up to a month. You can also get your furry friend a cat flea prevention collar. Such collars contain a flea preventative in them. These collars can last up to several months.

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How Do Cats Get Fleas

Cats can pick up fleas at kennels, groomers, or outside. “Typically if your cat’s an indoor cat, they’re not going to get fleas,” Dr. de Jong says. “It’s the cat that goes in and out of the house.”

There are many different species of fleas, but cat fleas are you guessed it the most common culprits, according to Purdue Extension Entomology. These pests can jump up about 12 inches high onto an unlucky host, feed, and then lay eggs in the fur. These eggs will also fall off the pet onto the carpet, furniture, or wherever your cat likes to hang out. The eggs then transform into larvae, then pupae, then adults, starting the cycle all over again.

Cat fleas will bite humans too. “Fleas are parasites they’re looking for blood to suck,” says Dr. de Jong. “If they don’t find enough cat hosts, they’ll suck on the owner’s ankles and feet.”

However, the advent of effective flea and tick preventative products has made these infestations much rarer than they used to be. If you’re already using one and think your cat may have fleas, talk to your vet about what and how you’re applying.

Causes Of Flea Infestations In Cats

The life cycle of the cat flea is simple. After feeding on a pet, a female flea hops off, and lays eggs that go on to develop into flea larvae, which then change into pupae, and these go on to develop into young adult fleas. These young adults then hop onto a passing cat and the cycle begins again.

Fleas like an environmental temperature of 21 29C for the life cycle to proceed. For this reason, in warmer, moister weather, the flea life cycle speeds up dramatically. This is why flea problems are more common in summer and in warmer countries.

In contrast, in cold weather, and cooler climates, fleas outside are inactive. Fleas will still be able to breed inside centrally heated homes, where its still be warm enough, but pet cats are less likely to come back carrying fleas after being outside.

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Administer A Flea Medication Specially Created For Cats

After youve removed as many fleas as possible through bathing and combing, youll need to treat your cat for fleas at every life-stage: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. Dryden recommends a long-lasting prescription product that will ensure you get rid of every single one of them. Because flea eggs can lay dormant for weeks, treatment needs to cover several months so that the eggs dont hatch, thus restarting the issue all over again. There are several types of flea medication for cats. Talk to your vet about their recommendations for your pet, since dosing is based on weight, age, and other variables. Its extremely important that you check to make sure your product is labeled for cats and NOT for dogs, since flea treatments for dogs can be toxic when used on cats. Always ask your vet for advice before beginning any type of treatment, especially if your cat is pregnant or nursing.

Heres a breakdown of the basic types of flea treatments for cats:

Spot-On Flea Treatments

  • Advantage: active ingredient imidacloprid
  • Revolution Plus: active ingredients selamectin and sarolaner
  • Bravecto Plus: active ingredients fluralaner and moxidectin

Oral Medications

Sprays, Shampoos, and Powders

Natural Flea Remedies

Tackling Fleas In The Home An Overview

Protect Your Cat and Home from Fleas

Frequent vacuum cleaning will help to reduce, but not eliminate, fleas in a house. Vacuum bags should be immediately and carefully disposed of. Anything heavily infested, such as bedding, should be disposed of. Treatments can then be used to prevent re-infestation in a number of ways:

  • Treat all the household pets with an insecticide to kill the adult fleas on them. Only ever use products specifically licensed for the treatment of cats, as some of the dog products can be highly toxic to cats .
  • Treat the house to eradicate fleas at all other stages of their development. Treatment of the whole house is essential, including soft furnishings, carpet pile, gaps between floorboards and other difficult to reach areas. Vacuum clean first and then use an appropriate flea insecticide to kill the immature stages.
  • Cocoons are very resistant to treatment, and therefore repeated treatments of both animals and the household may be needed to completely eliminate all fleas from a home.
  • Products with insect development inhibitors may be used on pets to help prevent immature fleas from maturing or reproducing. For these to be effective all animals in the household must be treated. Some environmental products also target developing fleas in this way.

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How To Tell If Your Pet Has Fleas

Identifying the signs of a flea infestation is crucial. The veterinarians we spoke to outlined three signs to look out for.

  • Increased itching: Casual scratching or grooming is one thing, but if you notice your pet excessively scratching in a particular area, youll want to inspect further. You can do so by running your fingers or combing through their fur. Flea bites are sharp and painful, and their salivary glands give off a substance that’s irritating or even allergic to cats and dogs, Cooley tells us.
  • Fleas on hair follicles: Adult fleas are reddish-brown and smaller than a grain of rice. Since fleas move fast through your pets hair, it is often easier to spot what is called flea dirt.
  • Presence of flea dirt: Also known as flea feces, flea dirt has been described as brownish-black dirt. If you are unsure whether it is real dirt or flea dirt, run it under water: If it turns red, then its flea dirt and youll have to treat it accordingly.

Otherwise, veterinarians recommended periodically scanning your pets bedding, carpets or other surfaces they hang out in or on for any signs of fleas.

Ways To Get Rid Of Fleas From Your Cat

Monika is owned by two beautiful cats. She loves to write about pets and share pet care tips and advice from her own experience.

Banish those fleas!

Summer is generally a cheerful season when the nice weather and longer days mean more happy playtime for pets. However, someone else is also eager to play: fleas.

Just like we humans have to put up with relentless mosquito attacks in the summertime, our furry friends are in a constant battle with the jumpy little vermin, and neither the cats nor the owners are happy about it.

To help cat lovers everywhere feather out the fleas from their pets, we bring you a list of tricks for getting rid of the nasty little buggers.

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Remove As Many Fleas As You Can From Your Cat

If youre able to see fleas, flea dirt, or flea eggs on your cat, start the treatment process by combing and bathing your cat to get rid of as many as you can . If youre wondering how to get rid of fleas on cats that hate water, youre not alone. This method can be very difficult if your cat doesnt tolerate your attempts at bathtime, so dont force it. A spray bottle can help you drown the fleas without all the fuss: just lightly spray your cat with water, then run a flea comb through the fur. Put any fleas into a solution of water and dish soap so they dont later jump back onto your pet.


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