Fleas are the most common parasite found on the cat’s skin. They live by feeding on blood. In most cases, they cause only a mild itch. A heavy infestation might cause a severe anemia or even the death of a cat. Fleas also are an intermediate host of the cat tapeworm.

Most noteworthy, the cat flea is a different species than those on dogs. Dog fleas cannot live on cats because they cannot live on feline blood. Quite the opposite is true about the cat species. Cat fleas have adapted to digest both human and canine blood. The only way to distinguish a cat flea from a dog flea species is to view the difference under a microscope.

Some cats experience hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to flea saliva. This produces an intense itching and localized or even generalized skin reaction. Such cats need special attention.

Signs of fleas

Diagnosing flea infestations are simple. Find a flea or the evidence of fleas on your cat. Look for salt and pepper like black and white grains about the size of sand in their coat. Or put your cat on white paper or paper towels and rough up the coat a bit. The black and white grains will fall out onto the paper. Squirt a bit with a spray bottle and you will see reddish-brown puddles form around the grains.

Also look for fleas on your cat’s back and around his tail and hind legs. Fleas especially like to the groin area where it is warm and there is less hair. Itching is most pronounced in these areas.

The adult flea is a small, dark brown insect which is visible with the naked eye. Although the flea has no wings and cannot fly, it has powerful back legs and can jump great distances.

Life Cycle of a flea

The Life Cycle of Fleas.
The Life Cycle of Fleas.

To flourish, fleas need a warm, humid environment. They are most common in summer but can occur all year on pets living indoors. They mate on the skin of the cat where they lay their eggs. The eggs fall off and incubate on furniture, in carpets, cracks and cat bedding. After a few days, the eggs hatch into larvae which feed on any debris available. They then spin a cocoon. Depending on environmental conditions. The larvae can take three weeks to two years to grow into adult fleas.

Treatment

Because a flea will spend most of their life off the cat, treatment of an individual cat is only partly effective. It is most important to eradicate fleas in the environment as well.

There are a variety of products available for killing fleas on the cat. Some are safer than others. Advantage II and Revolution are very good. Confer with your veterinarian for the best choice.

For indoor control, Precor IGR targets the flea in the egg and larval stages of development. As a result, a pre-adult flea cannot produce new infestations of breeding, biting adults. It prevents adult flea emergence for 7 months.

Precor’s molecules move to the places a pre-adult flea lives. Such as the base of carpet fibers and between furniture cushions. In short, the sources of a flea infestation. For control of active flea infestations, this product works best when combined with an adulticide. Suspend SC or Demize EC (both safe for cats when directions are followed) which will help to provide quick knockdown of adult fleas.

Keep in mind that vacuuming, on a daily basis, will remove fleas and their eggs in all stages.

The products mentioned are available in the US and may not be availble in other countries.  If you would like to submit products for other countries please use our contact page.

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