How to control and prevent fleas in cats

Fleas are a perennial nuisance for pet lovers! At least 2,000 species of fleas have been identified and catalogued.

In particular, the cat flea (ctenocephalides felis) can cause blood infections (such as anemia), allergies, and skin irritations. Also, fleas carry tapeworm larvae. When cats lick and groom themselves, they may ingest these and develop infestation.

Fleas irritate humans by biting and by setting up house in our homes! The average adult female flea will lay 50 eggs a day. Each flea has a life cycle of about two weeks. Just think how quickly a flea colony can multiply in your furniture, your carpeting, your linens, and other spots!

HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOUR CAT HAS FLEAS?

Fleas are difficult to spot in cats. If your cat seems to be scratching himself, or rubbing his skin on the carpet, furniture, or other items, he may have fleas.

A sure-fire way to spot fleas is this: Brush your cat carefully in a dry bathtub. If you spot specks in the tub, this is likely flea excrement. This is differentiated from regular dirt by its tendency to streak red when moistened. (Flea excrement will contain traces of blood, because the fleas have fed on your pet.)

HOW CAN YOU PREVENT FLEAS ON YOUR PET?

Your veterinarian can prescribe an appropriate preventative for each pet. For cats, flea collars and topical flea deterrents may be effective. Shampoos, powders, and sprays may keep fleas from attaching to your cat.

However, the most effective prevention today is the spot-on treatment. Advantage, Frontline, Program, and Staykil are excellent options. Applying a few drops to the nape of the neck will prevent your cat from licking it off. (This is not an appropriate option for kittens, however, as the mother cat will carry them from this spot. In doing so, she may ingest the formulation.)

After a flea infestation, every furry pet in the household must be treated, or they will simply pass flea infestations back and forth between themselves.

HOW CAN YOU ELIMINATE FLEAS IN YOUR HOME?

To protect your pets and your family, all fleas must be removed from the home. Even a few survivors can quickly reinfest and repopulate!

Vigilant vacuuming is essential. Change the vacuum bags frequently, as fleas may take up residence in there as well!

If you have had an infestation, then your pet’s bedding will need to be replaced. Carpets and upholstery must be cleaned thoroughly. Linens and other soft goods musts be washed in hot water. Hidden spots, such as under floorboards and inside cupboards must be disinfected.

To prevent domestic flea infestations, you will want to keep your cats on flea prevention programs (spot-on or otherwise) and probably enlist the services of a home pest control provider. These service providers visit your home periodically to inspect for pests of all kinds and treat your home accordingly.

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