Fleas - Spot them, stop them, kill them
Fleas are an inevitable annoyance that can be avoided and you can keep your cat protected with a little effort and vigilance.
You need to keep an eye on your cat, especially in summer when your cat is more likely to socialize with other cats and pick up those little pests! Watch for your cat scratching around her neck more that she usually does. This may be due to collar irritation, (your cat does have a collar – right?), but it’s more likely to be fleas if your cat has worn her collar for a while.
Another thing to watch for is more than normal grooming by your cat on her lower spine. The neck and lower spine are favorite places for fleas to hang out. A total give away is if you feel small bumps on your cat when you stroke her. If you do it’s probably skin irritation caused by the saliva of the flea when it bites. It may also be a tick on your cat that will need to be removed. If you find that it is a tick, take your cat to the vet, don’t try and remove it yourself.
If you’re still not sure if your cat has fleas or not, stand her on a large piece of white paper and run a comb, (flea combs are ideal for this!), through your cat’s hair and then check the paper. If you find small brown dots that turn red when wet then your cat has fleas. This is dried blood that the fleas excrete.
Luckily for us prevention and cure has been made easy for cat owners with modern medicine. Today most flea prevention medications include a flea cure too. The most popular flea medications like Advantage® or Frontline Plus® are topical medications. When used regularly they will not only kill the adult fleas on your cat, they will also protect her from re-infection. Consult your vet for the best treatment for your cat.
If your cat has been infected with fleas it’s a good idea to clean and vacuum the areas where your cat likes to sit and sleep. Wash all of the cat’s bedding in very hot water to kill any fleas and eggs. Vacuum all of the carpets and curtains in the house, as we mentioned earlier fleas like to catch a ride on your clothes too. Finally if you’re really brave and your cat trusts you, give her a bath. Good luck with that?
Fleas can live anywhere from 2 months to 2 years. The eggs lay dormant just waiting for a warm body to pass by so that they can hatch. They are not too particular about what warm body it is, which includes you! It’s reasonably rare that you will be bitten though, fleas are species particular and will usually only bite by mistake.
You can find sprays that will kill and protect your carpets and curtains from fleas and ticks. In the main these are very effective. However if you do use a spray, make sure that you air the room afterwards, the vapors can be pretty toxic. Also make sure you spray the edges and seams of carpets as these areas are hard to vacuum and can be collection points for eggs.
Ideally you should talk to your vet to find out the best flea and tick control for your circumstances and your cat. There are various factors that determine what’s best such as the climate you live in, the time of year, your cat’s habits and activities and how she responds to the various available control methods.
Fleas and ticks are an annoyance and with some common sense and a good control regime they are a problem that can be easily managed and controlled.