If you’re a cat parent, you recognize that fleas are a common problem – especially if your cat goes outside. Fleas are external parasites that feed on blood, and they can make your cat itchy, uncomfortable, and even sick. Fleas can cause flea allergy dermatitis, anemia, and transmit diseases such as Bartonella.
The first step to treating fleas on your feline is to ensure that your home and your cat’s environment are also free from fleas. There are many ways to deal with fleas, from prevention to treatment.
Identifying Fleas on Your Cat
The symptoms of fleas on your cat may be subtle at first. However, it quickly progresses. You may notice fleas on your cat’s skin, and he or she may scratch, bite, or lick at the affected areas. In many cases, feline fur hides the effects of a flea infestation, so knowing what to look for will help you identify the issue early. Signs of flea infestation include:
- Presence of tiny, black, dot-sized bugs on your cat’s skin.
- Excessive licking, scratching, or grooming.
- Small bumps or scabs on your feline’s skin.
- Flea dirt (which looks like tiny black or white specks) on your cat’s skin or bed.
Treating Fleas on Your Pet
Once you have identified the presence of fleas on your feline, you can proceed to treat the unwanted guests. Here are some tips for treating fleas on your furry friend:
Use flea medication specifically made for cats.
The first step in treating fleas on your cat is to use appropriate flea medication. Never use dog flea medication as it can cause severe reactions to your feline. Look for a product labeled for use in cats, and ensure that it will treat all stages of fleas: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. Contact your veterinarian before using any flea medication if your cat is currently taking any medication, especially if it is a preventive medication for heartworms.
Use flea combs on your feline.
Flea combs are specialized combs made for removing fleas from your feline’s skin. Use the comb to comb through your feline’s fur, focusing on areas such as the neck and tail, where fleas tend to congregate. Dip the comb in soapy water to kill the fleas, and repeat the process frequently.
Clean your home and your cat’s environment.
Thoroughly clean your cat’s bedding and other places your cat frequently rests. Use hot water to wash your cat’s bedding and dry using high heat since fleas can survive through cold washing temperatures. If your cat has a place to sleep like a bed or crate, wash these with the same hot water, soap and then rinse them thoroughly. Wash and dry kitty toys, clothes, etc. Ensure you also vacuum your house or apartment, and follow up by using a flea treatment spray on your furnishings, carpets, and floors.
Preventing Fleas on Your Cat
Preventative measures are the best way to avoid flea infestations, and some quality tips for prevention are:
Regular care and check-ups with a veterinarian.
Keeping your feline vaccinated, dewormed, and healthy can go a long way in preventing flea infestations or illnesses that manifest through fleas. Regular vet check-ups also ensure the vet can provide you with the most up-to-date recommendations and products for flea prevention and treatment.
Flea medication for prevention.
In addition to treating active flea infestations, preventative flea medications help to keep fleas off your feline’s skin. These flea preventatives work in different ways, such as keeping flea life cycle “interrupted” components and stopping blood feeding, respectively. Some are over the counter, but it’s a good idea to check with your vet to determine what preventive measure would work best for your furry friend.
Regular bathing and brushing of your feline.
Bath your feline every few weeks or regularly as recommended by the vet to keep bugs away while also keeping your pet clean and healthy. Brushing removes dirt and dander while also allowing you to check for fleas on your feline’s coat. Diligence in brushing ensures you can catch unwanted visitors before they settle in.
Fleas are pesky parasites that love to cause problems. Knowing how to identify and treat fleas on your furry friend is critical to maintaining your pet’s health and your own sanity. Regular preventive care by a vet, such as vaccination and deworming, and use of flea medication can help keep fleas at bay. A clean environment, such as frequently washing beddings, vacuuming and using flea treatment sprays, keeping your surroundings tidy, is also essential in combating flea infestations. With these tips, you can enjoy a flea-free feline at any time of the year.
Common questions and answers
- Q: Do flea collars work on cats?
- A: Yes, flea collars are an effective means of flea prevention for cats. However, ensure you buy a flea collar specifically made for cats and not a dog flea collar as they can be toxic for cats. Also, follow the instructions strictly.
- Q: Can humans get fleas from cats?
- A: Fleas often don’t bite humans, but it’s possible for humans to get fleas from their pets. If a flea-ridden cat has been sitting on an upholstered couch or bed, then the fleas may jump onto the next warm-blooded creature (you). Fleas bites are uncomfortable and can cause welts in humans, but fleas do not carry human diseases.
- Q: Can I use flea medication on a kitten?
- A: It depends on the age of the kitten. Some types of flea medication are suited for kittens as young as six weeks. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best flea medication, treatment method and schedule for your kitten.