Fleas are found just about everywhere and have been around through the ages. The temperate climate in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada is an ideal place for fleas. It never gets too cold for them to die off so they are present year round. To understand the best way to rid your pet and your home of fleas, it is important to understand the flea’s life cycle, first.
The Cat Flea That Calls for Treatment
The common flea species that makes itself at home on our furry companions is the ctenocephalides felis, also known as, the cat flea. This flightless, jumping, endlessly breeding pest attacks any warm blooded, furry, living thing to suck its blood. Once this tiny menace moves onto your cat or dog, several different stages of its life cycle, such as eggs, larvae and pupae will be present in your pet’s bedding, your carpet and anywhere else your cat frequents!
Though the flea itself is short-lived in the adult stage, one female can lay thousands of eggs in a very short period of time. This means that one or two fleas can quickly turn into a huge burden for you and your pet. To rid your cat of fleas you must treat for each life stage of the flea on the animal as well as its environment.
The life stages of the cat flea are:
- The first stage is the egg which is laid on the host but can fall off onto a cat’s bedding or your carpet.
- The next stage is when the egg hatches into larvae that live off the adult flea excrement for about a week.
- The 3rd stage is the pupae where the larvae make themselves a cocoon, stay in it a week until hatching out as an adult flea.
- The last stage is the adult flea which is ready to suck the host’s blood and breed all over again
Fleas are a danger to cats because of the diseases they can cause or transmit from parasites that live on, or in them.
- Their blood sucking can make your cat anemic and flea related anemia can kill kittens.
- Many cats can develop flea allergy dermatitis which often manifests itself as overgrooming, intense itchiness, hair loss and scabs particularly on the back or rump
- Fleas are an intermediate host for tapeworms. If your cat ingests any of the fleas by grooming them off, he will likely develop a tapeworm infection.
How to Find Out if Your Cat Needs Flea Treatment
Most cats will overgroom scratch and bite their fur often if fleas are a problem. You may notice that your cat seems jumpy and take off at a run for no apparent reason – fleas may be biting it. However, there are some cats that may have many fleas and not show any obvious sign of discomfort. Often times, cats will actually groom off most of the adult fleas present, leaving “flea dirt” as the clue of an infestation. One of the problems of your cat ingesting fleas is that it can cause a tapeworm infection. Also, even if your cat is grooming off the adult fleas, it does not stop the fleas from biting and it certainly does not stop the life cycle and continuing hatching of any of those within the environment.
Use a comb with tiny, spaced teeth (flea comb) to comb through your cat’s fur. Tap the comb on a piece of white paper and look at the debris that falls off. If it is very small dark specks it is ‘flea dirt’, flea waste. Crush some on a piece of water-dampened paper to see if it is red or reddish brown. When you see red residue remaining it is your pet’s blood and your cat definitely has fleas.
Giving Your Cat the Flea Treatment That Works
If your cat has fleas, there are many things you can do to eliminate the problem. Adult fleas are actually just a small part of the overall issue. Eggs, larvae and pupae are in the environment, as well. Here are some things you can do to rid your cat of fleas:
- First and most importantly, speak to your local veterinarian about which flea treatment product is best for your cat. There are many safe and effective options for your kitty. Keep your cat on a vet-approved flea treatment year-round to eliminate the original problem and prevent another infestation.
- Do not purchase flea products from the pet or grocery store. These products contain pesticides and can be extremely toxic to your cat.
- Do not use flea sprays or shampoos. These are not effective as they do not address the eggs, larvae and pupal stages in the environment and they are not necessary. A safe once a month flea treatment from your veterinarian is your most effective weapon against fleas on your pet and in the environment.
- Vacuum your carpets daily and throw the bags out of the house, right away. This helps reduce the amount of flea eggs that have fallen off your cat and into the surrounding area. Frequent vacuuming will also stimulate eggs to hatch. As long as your pet is on a safe and effective flea treatment, those adult fleas will jump on your cat and be killed by the flea product.
We hope these tips will help your cat (and your home) if you are having a flea problem. Remember, a year-round once a month veterinary approved flea product is the best defense against a flea infestation in the first place. Ask your local veterinarian for the best cat flea treatment for your pet.
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