They’re little vampires who like to hide in your pet’s fur, and feast on their blood. You know them; they’re minuscule and cause a lot of painful itching to your kitty cat. Don’t worry though, cat fleas are the most common flea species in the world; you can find them anywhere, not only on cats and dogs.
They might be a bit hard to get rid of, but it’s certainly possible, and with current products, it became way easier. So, what is the lifecycle of a flea? How can I tell if my cat has fleas? And, what is the best way to get rid of fleas on cats?
How to help get rid of fleas on your cat
The secret life of fleas!
A flea’s entire lifespan is around two weeks and can go up to a year in encouraging conditions. And, just like the beautiful transformation of a butterfly, a flea goes through many phases in her life before reaching adulthood, except that the result isn’t that beautiful, it’s more likely to represent a threat for everyone around it!
A flea has four distinguished stages in her lifecycle:
- Eggs: Fleas produce their eggs on the host animal whether it’s a cat or a dog, and spend their entire life there. An adult flea lays approximately 20 to 50 eggs per day. They just like warm and humid places! Some can hold on to the fur, some might fall off into the environment around, could be your sofa, your carpet or even your nice lovely warm bed.
- Larvae: these eggs hatch into larvae within 2 to 5 days, and then they feed on adult organic debris for over a week in order to develop.
- Pupae: the larvae will eat until it spins a cocoon around it, and eventually transform into pupae; a free independent adult! This transformation requires a protected warm place with at least 75% humidity, where the flea pupae can hatch properly. If these conditions weren’t available the young flea pupae can sleep for weeks or even months until the environmental conditions contribute to the correct hatchling process.
- Adult: The developing adult starts feeding on its host (your pet), or mates, and repeats the lifecycle all over again. This is why flea treatment for cats is mandatory. And if you’re still asking yourself “Do fleas lay eggs on cats?” you should know that the answer is…yes! Cats’ fur is the perfect environment for a female flea to produce her eggs.
How Can I Tell If My Cat Has Fleas?
In general, the most known flea that feeds off of your pets and humans as well is called Ctenocephalides felis. When you suspect the presence of fleas on your cat’s fur, bring a comb and start brushing her hair, and watch the tiny dots that appear on the comb. It’s commonly called “flea dirt” but in reality, it’s the fleas’ excrement. If you smash one of them using preferably a wet paper towel, you’ll notice that the flea dirt turned into red. This color is what’s remaining from your cat’s blood, and obvious proof of fleas’ presence.
What are signs of fleas in cats?
In general, excessive scratching and biting are the most obvious signs of fleas’ presence. In extreme cases, you can also notice a pale gum which indicates severe anemia.
Diseases generally carried by cat fleas:
When it comes to delivery cat fleas are experts, except they only transmit toxic diseases. The itching and the stinging are just the beginning of a long painful journey for both humans and cats.
Here are the most common diseases carried by cat fleas:
- Anemia: Due to the abandon blood loss caused by cat fleas, cats, especially kittens, run the risk of getting anemia. Sometimes it could even be fatal for their lives. If your kitten just survived a flea attack, her gum should be routinely checked, and if she has pale gums then it’s a flagrant sign of anemia, and she should be treated STAT!
- Tapeworms: Fleas and worms represent the same threat for your kitten; if she had a flea attack then she should be treated for worms too, to avoid any future complications.
- Haemobartonellosis: It’s a severe form of anemia caused by a microorganism carried by cat fleas. It’s a condition that is diagnosed through laboratory tests and treated with antibiotics, steroids, and even blood transfusions.
- Rickettsiosis: It’s an infection that can attain humans too. Some of its clinical symptoms include headaches, chills, fever, vomiting, and rash, for both humans and cats.
How to get rid of fleas on cats?
Fleas like the warm, moist furry coat of your little kitty cat. Once your kitty starts biting or scratching excessively a part of his little body, know that fleas are most likely feeding off of his blood.
According to William Miller Jr., VMD, and professor of dermatology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, fleas don’t really bit, they regurgitate digestive juices onto the skin so they can suck your cat’s blood. In some cases, your cat, just like a lot of pets, can have an allergy called fleabite allergic dermatitis.
This allergy could be developed over pets or humans’ lifetime. Because of fleabite allergic dermatitis, your kitty can experiment excessive grooming and scratching from just a single bite. It could also cause extreme itching, hair loss, reddening of the skin, and secondary inflammations, for up to five days.
If you have doubts that your cat could be having a flea attack, follow the instructions below for an efficient cat flea removal:
- Comb the Cat: Use a comb to carefully brush the entire cat’s body. Keep a jar or a container of dilute bleach next to you, and once you collect fleas on your comb, shake them into the jar. The fleas will die quickly this way.
- Give your kitty a bath: a nice bath afterward will eliminate the remaining fleas on your pet’s fur; you don’t need any shampoo for cats with fleas for that, just use the regular one and that will do the job.
- Use flea products: If you see that your cat still keeps scratching and biting his body, try using flea products. After consulting your vet, you can use either flea tablets or topically (externally) applied flea products.
How to get rid of fleas on my cat’s face?
If you notice fleas on your cat’s face it’s more likely that they have them everywhere. Make sure you start the steps mentioned before to prevent them from growing their family and even getting to you.
How many fleas on a cat is considered an infestation?
Cat fleas aren’t to be taken lightly. Once you notice the first signs of cat fleas’ presence, you need to start your treatment STAT.
External flea control products:
The majority of topical cat flea removal products are affecting fleas’ nerve receptors. They are often applied to the back of the cat’s neck and are absorbed by hair follicles, from which they are later released. Generally, these products are meant to be applied once a month, but in reality, their effects last longer.
It’s important to recall that what works for dogs doesn’t necessarily work for cats. Avoid using dog’s product on cats; they could even be harmful to them. On the other hand, before buying any cat flea control product make sure all the used ingredients are safe for you and your kitty.
Here are a few products you can use on a cat with fleas:
- Advantage: Its main ingredient is imidacloprid. It’s a safe product that doesn’t kill ticks and is generally for kitten and cats over six weeks of age.
- Frontline: It’s proven its efficiency for killing both fleas and ticks. Its active ingredient is fipronil, which might trigger a temporary sensitivity in the area of application.
- Revolution: It kills not only ticks and worms but also ear mites and protects against heartworm. Its main component is Selamectin, which is what kills fleas on cats. it‘s forbidden for kittens under 6 weeks of age, and it’s proven to stay in the bloodstream for a little while, also it might cause some allergic reactions for some cats.
Will cat fleas die on their own?
Unless your cat goes through a car wash at a high temperature to the point that her fur burns, there’s nothing that can make fleas die on their own without any treatment. On the contrary, if you wait for fleas to die, they will only produce more eggs to maintain the family name for future flea generations, and thrive there, hallelujah!
Protect Your Cat and Home from Fleas:
Your next step after taking care of cat fleas on your pet is cleaning up your home from any remaining eggs. While the treatment is killing the adult living fleas, you need to follow these steps to get rid of any eggs left in your area:
- Wash meticulously all the sheets. Then vacuum the beds, especially between the splits and gaps where eggs might hide.
- Vacuum all carpets on a daily basis, and get rid of the vacuum bag.
- Avoid placing flea collars in the vacuum bag, as with heat it could cause toxic fumes.
- Steam-clean your carpets regularly; it will kill the remaining eggs.
- In extreme cases, if you can’t get rid of fleas on cats, use a whole-house bomb targeting fleas. It’s important to remove all food dishes and living animal including birds during this process. You can get the help of a professional for this matter, just make sure he’s or she’s aware that you have cats in the household.
- Hire a professional in order to treat outdoor areas. It’s important that he or she uses cat-friendly products. If you have an outdoor kitty, keep him inside for the day.
It’s important to follow these steps for a total cat flea removal from your house, and also in your kitty’s little body, you can use the best shampoo for cats with fleas, if you don’t clean your house, you’ll always have them on your kitty. Furthermore, of course, the most effective method is to adopt a prevention policy, regular checkups and vet visits are mandatory, and also you should keep examining your kitty’s fur once in a while in order to prevent any future cat flea invasion.
Can indoor cats get fleas?
Indoor cats can undoubtedly get fleas. If you have fleas in the area, and your cat happens to walk by them, it’s more likely that they hold on to her and thrive on her fur.
How did my indoor cat get fleas?
Fleas don’t give a heads up before they show up …. guess what! They just do! You can have the cleanest house and the cleanest indoor kitty, your indoor cat can still have fleas. As mentioned before it could be anything that brought the eggs home from the outside world, a passing stray cat, dog, mice or even shoes, it could be anything the eggs held on to.
Some people wonder “How do my indoor cats keep getting fleas?”, well this could be due to a lot of reasons, the main one is the lake of hygiene in the house, you can have your kitty treated as much as you want, if you don’t clean the environment around, eggs can still be present there, waiting for your cat to cross by, so they can hold on to her and find the favorable conditions to hatch properly.
Cat fleas and kittens: a deadly duo!
If your kitten has fleas, don’t use any medications on her. Cat flea protection products are labeled according to age, weight, health condition and a lot of other criteria. If you use any treatment on her, without respecting the medication’s guidelines, it could be deadly for her. Also, avoid using natural and homeopathic remedies either, as they could be even more harmful to her.
Kitten over four weeks old can be treated with medications like Capstar (prescribed for kittens over 8 months) if they meet the minimum weight requirement. However, whatever the treatment is, you’ll need to treat the mother as well as your house and yard.
Bear in mind, that before starting any treatment, you should first consult your vet. As your kitty might have a health condition that can be worsened by some cat fleas’ medications.
In case you suspect your kitty to have fleas, without hesitation consult your vet in order to get good flea treatment for cats.
For health-related matters, your vet is mandatory, as she knows your kitty’s condition, her health history as well, which makes her well placed to make the best health-related decisions for your kitty.