Fleas are annoying. Fleas are gross. That reddish color “dirt” that you often find in your pets bedding when they have fleas is actually feces from the fleas. They drink blood. Bites itch like crazy. That there is plenty reason enough, but there are more important reasons:
- Because cat fleas wine-and-dine at your cat’s expense, feeding on their blood, young kittens can end up with anemia, overall weakness and could even die.
- Allergic reactions. Your cat may be allergic to flea bites. If that’s the case, a single bite can lead to a skin infection.
- Fleas commonly carry tapeworms. This can be passed onto your cat when then they ingest fleas while grooming themselves. This is why many vets will treat them for tapeworms too if they’re being treated for fleas.
Know What You’re Dealing With
Before you deal with the fleas, you should have a bit of an understanding of them so you can plan the best attack. Adult fleas can live for two years on your cat and in the right environment. When eggs that fleas lay fall off your cat, the larvae still hatch. Then they survive off of the “flea dirt”. They dig in good and make a comfy home in the carpet or bedding or furniture to hide from light and at this point, they’re not easy to kill or get rid of.
They build and live inside a cocoon, growing into a healthy adult flea. When the time is just right, they emerge and hop onto your poor, unsuspecting cat. They can tell when to do this with their natural ability to sense changes in heat, vibration, noise and pressure.
A flea egg will only take 15 days on average to become an adult. But they can remain nested in their cocoon for a whopping two years. That means the flea problem you thought you had under control can suddenly reappear without warning. And that’s why it’s important to not only treat your cat, but to thoroughly treat your home and the entire environment.
Did you know? Female fleas are able to lay an average of 50 eggs per day. Adult fleas can bit hundreds of times per day. That can add up fast! Flea bites on humans can affect different people differently. Some will hardly notice it, while with others, the bite will swell up and become extremely itchy. It’s important to keep the area clean and reduce itch with lotions or even an ice pack. You can also use two parts apple cider vinegar and one part water or boiled lemon peel, but don’t use these if the skin is broken.
Getting Rid of the Fleas
If you’re dealing with a bad infestation, then you’ll probably want to talk to your vet. They’ll recommend the best solution based on different factors. It will likely be in the form of an injection, tablets, liquid you use to treat spots or sprays. You can try products from the store, internet or pet shop, but be very careful about following the directions. Even if they work, they could be deadly if not used properly. You also want to treat any and all animals that live with you – not just the one that you know has a flea problem.
Caution: Never use flea products for dogs on your cat
Next, you want to treat the environment. This means washing everything possible, especially bedding and anywhere they sleep or spend time. Vacuum. Vacuum. And vacuum some more. Every day. Vacuum the floors, vacuum furniture. And after each vacuuming session, get rid of the contents outside and away from your home. Remember that they can hide and remain in their cocoons for a long time and may reappear in waves. Be thorough. Be patient. Stick to it.
Of course, the best thing to do is prevent fleas in the first place with proactive, preventative measures. And don’t let up just because the weather turns cold.