While cats love to explore the outside, this can often lead to a small tiny little insect sticking on to their coat and irritating their skin for several days and even weeks. These little insects commonly called cat fleas are something that every cat owner should be wary of. No matter how clean your home may be, the moment your cat brings in a flea, an infestation can occur, and you should do all that you can to prevent that from happening.
What is a Cat Flea?
Much like dogs, cats are susceptible to getting fleas on their coat. It is quite common for these pesky parasites to cling on to an animal host. The cat flea is found on both cats and dogs, but most frequently it is found on cats. It is scientifically referred to as ctenocephalides felis.
Flea Life Cycle
When it comes to fleas, they go through four different life cycles as shown below. The overall population of the cat fleas can be broken down into 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupae, and 5 percent adults.
- Egg – An adult female flea produces about 20-30 white ovoid eggs per day, laying them out individually. These eggs are produced at the rate of about one per hour until the mother eventually dies. It is said that in ideal situations, the adult female flea will produce anywhere from 2000-8000 eggs in her entire lifetime. After 2-7 weeks of production, these eggs grow into larvae, its next life stage.
- Larva– The larvae are about 1-2 mm long and is known to avoid light. For this reason, they tend to hide in dark areas, requiring an adequate amount of warmth and moisture. So this probably explains why so many larvae thrive in warm wet areas. During this phase, the larvae feed on organic substances and dried blood.
- Pupa – This is the next phase after the larvae stage and is called the pupal stage. During this period, the unborn flea is wrapped in a cocoon and acquires a sort of coat that camouflages it from the surrounding environment. These fleas often remain in this state for as long as they do to develop, waiting for the presence of a host.
- Adult – When it is about time, the flea emerges from the light and jumps to a new host. It begins to feed on the host’s blood immediately.
One of the reasons why fleas should be treated immediately is their ability to transmit diseases from one host to another. This includes humans. They can transmit other parasites and infections from the cat to a dog to another mammal such as the cat owner. One of the most common instances of such problems is the transmission of Bartonella, murine typhus, apedermatitis. A flea swallowed by a pet or human can also cause tapeworms.
How Do Indoor Cats Get Fleas?
Do not feel bad if your pet has fleas. This is something that can come without anyone ever expecting it. The reason for this is because fleas are surprisingly like ninjas. They can hop great lengths and are sneaky as hell. In fact, a flea can jump 100 times its own height. Therefore, if there is a flea in the home or on another animal, they can make their way to you or your cat with ease.
You may be wondering as to how does your indoor cat ends up getting fleas. Well, this can easily come from a simple stroll outside, where the flea has jumped on to the cat from the bushes, or perhaps when your cat was mingling with another wild feline. They can even hop into your home from the small cracks of a window. It is impossible to know exactly where they came from, but the fact that they can come still remains.
How to Check Your Cat for Fleas
There are plenty of ways to check whether or not your cat has fleas. It is not impossible to know whether or not your poor feline friend is infected. That’s because although fleas are extremely small, they can still be detected. You just need to look for the following signs as shown below.
- Grooming habits – If your cat is sensitive to fleas, then it will not respond to the inhibition quite well. The cat will constantly scratch itself and also groom itself more than what it used to. In order to alleviate the incessant itching and irritation, your cat will constantly groom and clean itself in an attempt to remove the fleas.
- Behavioral changes – When your poor friend is infested with fleas, not only will its grooming habits change, but also the overall behavior will differ. This can be in the form of refusal to go to the rooms where your pet appears more restless. Also, the cat may also growl more than you’re used to and also shake its head a lot.
- Signs of anemia – If your cat is a case of severe flea infestation, then they may suffer from a large amount of blood loss, eventually developing anemia. This will be evident from extreme fatigue, pale gums, and even muscle loss. To briefly explain, anemia is a condition that develops when the blood lacks healthy red blood cells.
Common Symptoms of Fleas on Cats
Besides the points mentioned above, you can also find out whether or not your cat has fleas by looking out for some of the symptoms listed below.
- Scratches around the face that indicate excessive scratching
- Increased hairballs from excessive grooming
- Hair loss from all the excessive itching
- Tapeworms in the stool
- Skin irritation on the back
- Small bumps or crusts around the neck or along the back
How to Search Your Cat for Fleas
While all of the steps taken to assess whether your cat has fleas are valid, at the end of the day, you will never really know until you actually go about trying to search for them on your cat. To do so, there are some proper procedures that you can follow to actually look for fleas on your feline friend.
- Make sure your cat is secure – Place your feline on a pillowcase or light-colored towel (preferably white). This is especially important since you want to see whether or not fleas will come out from their coat.
- Grab a comb and start going through the fur – While paying particular attention to any particles that fall off the coat, brush your cat from head to tail. Make sure to focus on the back of the neck, base of the tail, and inside of the legs as this is where most fleas tend to hide. You can even grab a flea comb for a more effective search. Flea combs are specially made to trap the fleas in its teeth.
- Examine the comb or white sheet – One can’t see fleas jumping off from the coat, because if they could then they’d not search for these tiny little monsters. So make sure to check the white sheet or towel that you placed beneath your cat. Also, check the teeth of the flea comb.
- Wipe the comb along the sheet – If you don’t find any fleas between the comb’s teeth or on the sheet, try to wipe the comb with a towel or a blanket to see whether or not you can see flea feces or dirt. Flea excrement is often red when wet. Some may wonder whether that is just the normal dirt. To examine this, sprinkle water over the specks, and if it is flea dirt, the black specks will turn red-brown
- Patches of hair loss – If you don’t notice any of the above-shown symptoms, try checking whether your cat has bald patches due to hair loss. While there are several reasons that can cause this, one of them is definitely fleas.
Checking the Surrounding Environment
Fleas can be found anywhere and they do not necessarily inhibit in your cat’s fur. As we mentioned above, they can hop into your home from outside through a window and stick themselves to somewhere warm and something moist. So you must keep such areas well checked.
Try checking the places where your cat spends a lot of time. You need to examine every such location, whether it’s the feeding area or the carpet or the rug that they roll on. You need to thoroughly look through it.
Cats love to sleep on top of a lot of places like the window sill, kitchen cabinet, and refrigerator. These are areas that the cat owner hardly checks, and that’s the reason why cats are so susceptible to flea infestation.
Another thing that you can do to check is for fleas around the house or surrounding environment is to wear white socks and walk along the places your pet frequents, in an attempt to pick up some flea dirt. If this doesn’t work, you can also go about setting up a light trap at night. Turn off all the lights, set a small bowl of water with dishwashing soap near a night light, and wait to see if there are any fleas the next day. Fleas tend to jump toward a light.
Treating Your Cat from Fleas
If your cat ends up with fleas, that is unfortunate. In that case, the best thing to do is to act fast. That’s because you need to get rid of them before these pesky fleas multiply. The best way to do that is by following the steps as shown below.
- Use a flea treatment that helps to protect the cat from fleas or other infestation. These products will help to prevent fleas from latching on, regardless of whether they are there or not.
- Medicate them monthly, because that’s better than just expecting it to be gone. Make sure to follow the instructions and give the medication as often as indicated, this may usually be on a monthly basis.
- Apply a flea collar that is comfortable for your pet. This will help to detract the fleas from latching onto the coat. Just keep in mind that some collars work while others don’t.
Taking certain preventive measures beforehand is better than having your cat or home infested with fleas. This way, you can rest assured that any inkling of a flea problem will not arise at all.
- Vacuum regularly – People hardly vacuum their homes, in fact, you’d be surprised to know how little they vacuum their home. Whether it’s due to their busy lifestyle or laziness, people usually leave gaps of one to two weeks between the vacuuming process. However, if you do feel paranoid about a flea infestation, its suggested that you vacuum at least once in every three days.
- Throw away garbage regularly – Warm, dirty, and moist places often attract fleas. So if you do not want any insects gathering around your home, make sure to regularly throw out the garbage.
- Wash bedding with hot water often – Since fleas may be hiding in places where your cat sleeps or rests, make sure to wash it with hot water as often as possible. This will help get rid of fleas.
Our Top 10 Recommended Products
One of the methods we mentioned above was to use a flea treatment product as soon as possible. Yet, the question remains as to what product is good and doesn’t harm the pet. The answer to this question might get confusing, more so because there are plenty of products that one might come across while searching for a flea treatment for your pet. There are a lot of products out there in the market. To guide you through this search, some of the top recommended products are listed below.
We all know that fleas are pesky little insects that neither you nor your pet wants. That’s because fleas continuously bother and leave your beloved feline friend itchy. Therefore, before it becomes an issue, make sure to try and take the right preventative measures in making your home a flea-resistant environment. If by chance they happen to get unlucky and infest your cat, make sure to act fast. Try considering some of the products as shown above to alleviate the issue.