Blogs by Stacey Chillemi
My Cat’s Got Fleas! How Do I Get rid of them?
6/26/2011 6:44:40 PM
Fleas are probably the most successful creatures on the planet in terms of reproduction. There are over 2,400 species.
Fleas are probably the most successful creatures on the planet in terms of reproduction. There are over 2,400 species. They are difficult to control for a variety of reasons. One female flea will produce 25,000 offspring in one month. An unfed adult can live for several months. The chemicals used to eradicate adult fleas have no effect on the eggs. Fleas are very good at mutating to resist new pesticides.
Fleas are a nuisance to cats! They cause allergic dermatitis, tapeworms, and anemia. Most of the eggs are not laid on the cat but in the cat’s bedding, in the rug, and on the furniture. It is extremely difficult to eradicate them completely. The most you can hope for is to control them and to keep your cat reasonably comfortable during the warm, moist flea season.
The best way to control fleas is to remove them from your cat and your house. Take her to a groomer for the day and have her bathed with a veterinarian-approved flea shampoo. Spraying or dipping her with a residual pesticide has little or no lasting effect and it can be detrimental to her health. While she is out of the house, hire a company that uses a non-toxic product to spray the carpets and the furniture. These companies usually guarantee a flea-free home for one year.
From this point on, it is important for you to vacuum the carpets, the furniture, and the cat is bedding everyday. Place the cut-off end of a flea collar or a moth crystal into your vacuum cleaner bag to kill any vacuumed adult fleas. Vacuum the cat if she will let you! Groom her daily with a flea comb. Do not be surprised if you occasionally find a flea on her. She will bring them in from the outside if she is an indoor-outdoor cat. Remember, you cannot get rid of them, only control them.
Some cats are bothered more by the pesticides than they are by the fleas. Flea collars, sprays, powders, and shampoos are all loaded with pesticides. Beware of insecticide poisoning!
There are many products on the market that claim to get rid of fleas such as:
· Flea collars
· cedar shaving pet beds
· garlic and yeast tablets
· water/light traps
· An ultra-sonic device Research, however, has not shown them to be effective in ridding your cat and house of fleas.
- Anemia: Unchecked infestations of fleas can actually cause anemia from blood loss - sometimes fatal, particularly in kittens. Pale gums are a red flag for anemia in kittens, and their gums should be checked regularly, if your kittens have just survived a flea attack.
- Tapeworms: With kittens, fleas and worms are practically synonymous, and kittens that are invaded by fleas should always be treated for worms.
- Haemobartonellosis: A more serious form of anemia, caused by a microorganism carried by the flea, the h.felis in the case of felines. Haemobartonellosis is diagnosed by laboratory tests and treated with antibiotics, steroids, and in some severe cases, blood transfusions.
The Life of a Flea
The cycles of a flea are very like that of a butterfly, but unlike the beautiful result of those flower-friendly creatures, the adult flea is a menace to all it encounters.
- Eggs: Fleas lay their eggs on the host animal, where the entire cycle may take place. Other eggs fall off into the environment, e.g., your carpeting or kitty's bedding, or your own bed.
- Larvae: The larvae "hatchlings" feed on the feces left by the adult, and continue to develop for about a week.
- Pupae: Like the butterfly, the larvae spin a cocoon for itself, where it continues to evolve into the adult flea - within another week or more the host animal.
· Adult: The emerging adult feeds on its host, mates, and continues the life cycle.
Follow the tips below to prevent cat fleas in your home.
1. Wash all bedding thoroughly. While the bedding is free of coverings, vacuum the mattress, particularly in the crevices, where eggs might hide.
2. Vacuum carpeting daily and dispose of used vacuum bags. I do not recommend placing flea collars in the vacuum bag, as the heat generated by the machine could cause noxious fumes.
3. Steam-clean carpeting. This will kill any remaining eggs the vacuum might have missed.
4. If necessary, use a whole-house insect bomb, which specifically targets fleas. It is critical to remove all food dishes and live animals, including birds during this process. You may consider hiring a professional for this job, but make sure he knows you have cats, and will use a cat-safe product.
5. Hire a professional to treat outdoors areas. Insist on a "cat-friendly" product for this purpose. If you have an outdoor cat, keep him confined inside for the day.
Your first job will be to eliminate as many fleas from your cat by combing and bathing. Once the bulk of the tiny nuisances are gone, you can prevent further flea infestations with the use of a topical flea control product.
- Comb the Cat: Using a flea comb, comb carefully throughout the entire body of the cat. Keep a jar or bowl of diluted bleach nearby, and as you collect fleas on the comb, shake them into the jar. The fleas will die quickly.
- Bathe the Cat: If you and your cat are up to it, a bath will drown most remaining fleas. It is not necessary to use a "flea" shampoo or a "flea dip" for this purpose. Just a mild cat or baby shampoo will do the job handsomely.
They are usually applied to the cat's skin at the back of the neck, and are collected in the hair follicles, from which the product is slowly released. Most topicals are labeled for once-a-month application, although in practice, they may work much longer.
Never use products labeled for dogs on cats. Do not recommend flea dips, sprays, powders, or collars. If you choose to use such products, do your homework and be sure that the ingredients used are safe for cats.
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