Cat Fleas. Questions And Answers

Cat fleas are one of the most common cat skin problems.

Nearly all cats that go outside (and even some that stay indoors) get fleas from time to time. It's no reflection on the cleanliness of the home they live in - it's just one of those annoying facts of life.

If left untreated, fleas can be irritating and painful for your cat, as they often cause excessive itching. In bad cases, they can suck out so much blood that they cause feline anemia.

On this page, I've answered some of the most common questions cat owners have about fleas.

Cats And Fleas - Common Questions And Answers

1) How do I know if my cat has fleas?

picture of ginger cat scratching himself

The most common sign is excessive scratching. However, fleas irritate some cats much more than others; some won't scratch much more than normal, whereas others will have an allergic reaction, become really itchy, and may scratch so much that they cause their skin to bleed.

You usually don't see fleas on your cat. If your cat is itching and you think he may have fleas, part his fur so you can see his skin and look for clusters of dark, comma shaped debris along his backbone, especially just above his tail.

If you can't find any, stand him on a large sheet of white paper and vigorously rub his coat, especially round his backbone. Move him off the paper and then look for the comma shaped debris. If you find any, drop a small amount of water on it. If the paper around the debris turns red, this more or less confirms it's flea feces.

2) How do I get rid of the fleas?

Treatment of cat fleas involves treating the cat, and also your home, as flea eggs can end up in Kitty's bed, the carpet, soft furnishings etc.

old tabby cat

There are loads of cat flea treatment methods available on the market, and some are much more effective than others. My advice would be to get one from your vet. It will be more expensive than one from the local pet store, but it will likely also be much more effective. Cats that have had an allergic reaction to the fleas will often need medication (usually a steroid injection) to dampen the allergic response.

Most people treat their home with an environmental spray that's applied to the carpet, furniture, Kitty's bedding etc. Again, you can either get this from your vet or local pet store. You'll need to apply it several times to kill any newly-hatching fleas. The instructions on the spray will tell you the best recommended method of application.

3) How do I stop them coming back?

Once you've got rid of Kitty's fleas, it's wise to protect him from further infestations using a flea prevention treatment. Again, I'd recommend getting one from the vet. There are several available now which just involve putting a drop of liquid onto the back of your cat's neck. This lasts for a few weeks, and is painless for Kitty - much better than a noisy, smelly spray.

Important Note - Kitten Fleas

Kitten fleas are the same as adult cat fleas. However, they can be more dangerous to kittens and you can't use most adult cat flea treatments on young kittens. Click here for important advice on dealing with kitten fleas.

For advice on health insurance for your cat, click here.

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