Cat fleas are by far, the most prevalent domestic flea species around. These fleas are parasites that use your cat’s body as a host and feed on them.
Aside from being a great nuisance, they can make your cat’s life miserable when they leave itchy bites and cause discomfort and pain. A severe infestation can also damage your fur kid’s skin!
If you find fleas on your cat, read on to find out how to treat him in a few simple steps and discover ways you can prevent a flea infestation.
How to Prevent Fleas on Cats
As the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Since fleas are hard to kill and getting rid of them requires a ton of work, prevention is the best medicine.
Here are some ways you can keep your cat flea-free:Wash beddings at least once a week
A clean house plays a big role in preventing the breeding of cat fleas. Any beddings or fabric that your cat touches should be stripped and chucked into the washing machine for a thorough wash at least once a week.Vacuum your house daily
Vacuuming daily may seem excessive but it’s necessary to keep the fleas away. Use a vacuum to clean your floor, furniture, and any crevices within your house. This helps to remove live fleas and prevent them from breeding.
Note: remember to toss your vacuum bags away and wash the vacuum when you’re finished! The fleas can work their way back into your home with the remaining dirt in the vacuum bags.Keep your cat indoors
The outdoors is the perfect place for fleas to breed; these critters thrive in grassy areas with high humidity. As such, keeping your feline friend indoors is your best bet to prevent fleas on your cat.Flea prevention treatment
Thus, this nifty collar functions as a repellent against fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks and lasts for up to 4 months. It also serves as a cute accessory for your cat!
Symptoms of Fleas on Cats: How do I tell that my cat has fleas?
Flea-infested cats often display physical and behavioural changes, indicating that something is wrong.
According to professional pest controller Amber Morris, fleas are hard to spot without a microscope. However, they cause skin irritation so some common symptoms are excessive grooming or hair loss.
Additionally, look out for the following:
- dark spots that move in your cat’s fur
- black specks (flea faeces),
- white particles (flea eggs)
Behavioural ChangesScratching or biting
Flea bites can be very itchy. As a result, your cat may begin to scratch itself or gnaw on its skin to help relieve the itch. Sudden scratching or maniac chewing is a tell-tale sign that your cat is infested with fleas.Excessive grooming
While cats are known to be meticulous groomers, your cat may be grooming excessively to soothe the itchy sensation resulting from flea bites.Avoiding areas
Cats are clever creatures that will avoid flea-prone areas. If your cat starts to steer clear of certain areas in your home, it could be an indication of a flea infestation.
Physical ChangesHair loss
Bald spots can develop as a result of excessive grooming. Finding bald patches on your cat could mean that your cat is infected with fleas.Skin lesions or scabs
Flea bites can induce an allergic reaction in your cat. These bites can cause skin inflammation and the formation of lesions or bumpy scabs.
Cats contract tapeworms when cleaning themselves. Tapeworm larvae are consumed by adult fleas before they get ingested by the cat during grooming.
The disease can be detected by looking out for white segments in your cat’s faeces or locating them near its anus. Unexplained weight loss can also be an indicator of a tapeworm infestation.
Anaemia is a condition caused by a deficiency in red blood cells. It can be due to a large number of fleas feeding on the blood of your cat. If your cat appears to be lethargic, shows signs of muscle loss, or have pale gums, it could be anaemic.
A plague is an infection transmitted by fleas and targets a cat’s lymph nodes. Infected cats experience fevers or have ulcers forming in their mouth. A common symptom is swollen and enlarged areas under your cat’s jaw.
Cats can contract bartonellosis when bitten by an infected flea or when they come into contact with flea faeces. Symptoms of an infected cat may include a fever or swelling around the bitten area.
Lifecycle of a Cat Flea
To eradicate the presence of fleas from your home, it’s important to understand their life cycle. Under optimal conditions, these cat fleas can complete their life cycle within 2 weeks.
Consisting of 4 stages, the life cycle of a cat flea is as follows:Stage 1: Eggs
The life cycle begins when the female lays eggs. A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day! These eggs may be laid on the host animal or fall off into the environment, spreading the infestation.Stage 2: Larvae
After 2 to 5 days, the eggs hatch into larvae and feed on faeces left by the adult flea. They continue to develop for another week or so before turning into pupae.Stage 3: Pupae
The larvae turn into pupae by enclosing themselves in cocoons, waiting for the ideal environmental conditions to hatch. These pupae may lay dormant for extended periods, making them hard to detect.Stage 4: Adult
The pupae then turn into adult fleas after emerging from their cocoons. To survive, these fleas feed on the blood of their host, causing pain and discomfort.
How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats
Bringing your cat to the vet is the first course of action most pet owners take when they discover the existence of cat fleas.
However, you can also use home treatments and flea control products.
Solution 1: Home RemediesLemon spray
Citric acid is one of the most effective flea killers, making a lemon spray the perfect home remedy for fleas.
To create a lemon spray, you’ll need:
- 2 – 3 lemons, chopped
- 3 cups of water
- A spray bottle
- A pot
- Pour water and lemons into a pot
- Bring the water to a boil and remove it from the heat.
- Let lemons steep in the water for 3 hours
- Strain lemons from liquid and transfer to spray bottle
When using, spray the lemon mixture onto your cat’s fur coat, making sure to avoid sensitive areas such as its eyes.
If your cat dislikes water, try dipping a flea comb in the solution and brush the fleas out.Apple cider vinegar spray
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) won’t kill fleas, but it’ll make them jump from your cat’s body. In a 2:1 ratio, mix the ACV with water and transfer the concoction to a spray bottle before use.
Fleas are a resilient bunch, so you might need to spray the mixture onto your cat’s fur coat several times for it to be flea-free.
Solution 2: Flea Control ProductsCat flea collars
Flea collars work by slowly releasing active ingredients throughout your cat’s fur to kill the fleas. This process continues until a replacement collar is required.
When adjusting the collar, ensure that there’s enough space to fit at least 2 fingers under it. If the collar is too long, remove any excess to prevent your cat from chewing on it. You should also watch out for any signs of discomfort or allergic reactions.Spot-on treatment
Spot-on flea treatments can be applied swiftly, providing your cat continued protection against blood-hungry fleas. To use, apply the recommended dosage of liquid directly onto the skin between your cat’s shoulders.
Note that spot-on treatments are not created equally. These treatments are tailored specifically for cats of different sizes; a dosage for a larger cat will not work for a smaller cat. Thus, getting the right treatment for your cat is essential.Flea shampoos
Giving your cat a medicated bath with a cat flea shampoo can help to kill the fleas on its body. These shampoos are specially formulated with flea-busting properties that will leave your furry friend feeling fur-tastic.
Before giving your cat a bath, remember to give its fur coat a good brush. This helps to ensure that there are no tangles in which the fleas can hide.Sprays
Cat flea sprays are an easy and convenient way to safeguard your feline friend from a flea invasion. Simply spritz the product onto your hand and gently rub it around your cat’s body. Refrain from spraying the product directly onto its fur; these products can get into sensitive areas such as its eyes and cause discomfort.Flea Bombs
Flea bombs are insecticide foggers designed to eliminate massive flea infestations. To activate, simply pull the valve on the flea bomb to release the pesticides inside.
Before usage, it is important that you read the instructions carefully and prepare your home for treatment. Preparation can include the removal of eating utensils or the covering of furniture with plastic tarps.
According to Alexander Crawley who specialises in flea extermination, ensure that you seal and turn off your HVAC to prevent spreading the product to unwanted areas.
Due to its potency, such products should be used with extreme caution and never directly on your pet!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can cat fleas spread to humans?
The good news is that cat fleas do not spread to humans. However, while they prefer a furry host, they might not necessarily leave you alone. They can still bite you!
What is the difference between dog fleas and cat fleas?
The physical difference between dog and cat fleas is minuscule and symptoms of infestations are largely similar. The main difference is that cat fleas feed on both dogs and cats while dog fleas can only feed on the former.
Can I treat my cat with dog flea products?
No, you may not!
While it may be tempting to get a universal flea treatment product for your pets, flea treatment is not the same for cats and dogs. Canine formulations can lead to fatal consequences if incorrectly used on your cat.
What are some of your best cat flea prevention tips and solutions? Share them with us in the comments section below!