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getting rid of fleas in cats

Flea treatment for cats is an ongoing process. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. The main problem with fleas is that they can live without a host for months.

This means that even the cleanest of homes and the cleanest of cats can soon become hotbeds for infestation. But if you stay vigilant and make an effort to stay on top of things, the occasional case of fleas will never be allowed to break out into a full-on infestation.

How much of a risk do fleas pose?

If a flea problem is allowed to escalate, things can soon become critical – and not just for your cat. All cats are irritated by fleas, but some cats are so hypersensitive to flea saliva that they can suffer an allergic reaction. If left untreated, this can pose some serious health risks. And fleas, don’t forget, are bloodsuckers. If your cat is young or frail, losing too much blood to fleas can be fatal. A flea infection can also act as a gateway to other, more serious infections. For example, it’s possible for flea larvae to become infected with tapeworm eggs, which your cat can easily ingest while grooming. So in no time at all a seemingly-harmless flea infection can develop into a life-threatening tapeworm infection. That’s why regular worming is just as important as routine flea treatment.  

How to tell if your cat has fleas

Sometimes they’re visible. You might see tiny black specks of flea dirt in your cat’s fur, or small scurrying insects. You might also see them on your carpets, your furniture, or even your own body and clothing. But even if you can’t spot any fleas, there’s still a few tell-tale signs to look out for. The most obvious one is scratching. All cats scratch now and then, but if your cat is scratching more than usual, they may have fleas.  Fleas don’t just bite cats, so be wary of any unaccountable insect bites on your skin. If you think your cat has fleas and you want to confirm your suspicions, groom your cat with a fine-tooth comb held over a white surface such as tissue. If your cat has fleas, they’ll drop onto the surface. You can remove any doubt by adding a few drops of water. If the specks turn reddish brown in water, it confirms it is flea dirt made up of your pets blood. Bad news, your cat has fleas. So now it’s time to act!

Flea treatment for cats

There are plenty of flea treatments available, but not all of them will be suitable for your cat. Your vet will be familiar with your cat’s medical history, so ask them to recommend a treatment that’s right for them. Never use a treatment that’s not been recommended by your vet. At best it will be ineffective, at worst it might make your cat feel even worse. But it’s one thing to treat your cat for fleas. The bigger and arguably more important task is to rid your home of fleas. Remember – fleas can live for months without a host, and it’s estimated that 95% of flea eggs, larvae, and pupae live in the environment. So if you treat your cat without addressing the rest of your home, don’t be surprised when the problem returns in a month or two.

How to treat your home for fleas

Hoovering helps – you should regularly vacuum your floors, your furniture, and your skirting boards to eliminate fleas at every stage of their life-cycle. Dispose of your vacuum cleaner’s dust bag when you’re done. Your vet will be able to recommend flea treatments for your home as well as your cats. This will usually be in the form of a sort of spray to apply to the various parts of your home where fleas might lurk. This kind of flea treatment can be mildly toxic for cats. To prevent illness, treat your house one room at a time. After treatment, open the windows, close the door, and make sure your cat can’t enter for at least an hour.

Make a point of regularly washing your bedding, as well as any surfaces your cat sleeps on. Keep on top of things and your flea problem should never spiral out of hand. Talk to your vet about how often you should treat your cat, and make treating your home part of your regular cleaning routine. If you've got any questions about flea treatment for cats, or about any other aspect of cat ownership, feel free to get in touch. Call our 24hr hotline on 01924 465 592.