While everyone else is infuriated with the tick season, the warm weather means that another parasitic pest is upon us: fleas. The increase in temperature makes it more hospitable for eggs to hatch, and adult fleas are more likely to jump at unsuspecting cats.
But unlike ticks, fleas are much more likely to cause pets to become anemic, according to John de Jong, DVM, a veterinarian in the Boston area and the current president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). . "They're just erased and weak and tired that the little vampires have literally sucked their blood," he says.
Fleas can also harbor the larvae of an intestinal parasite. If your pet bites and swallows an infected flea, you can also go down with a tapeworm – it's not good.
This is exactly what you need to know to combat and treat a flea infestation on your cat and at home:
How do cats get fleas?
Cats can pick fleas in kennels, hairdressers or outdoors. "Normally, if your cat is an indoor cat, they will not have fleas," says Dr. de Jong. "It's the cat that enters and leaves the house."
There are many different species of fleas, but cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are, you guessed it, the most common culprits, according to Purdue Extension Entomology. These pests can jump up to 12 inches in height over an unfortunate host, feed and then lay eggs in the fur. These eggs will also fall from the pet on the carpet, furniture or wherever your cat likes to hang out. Then, the eggs are transformed into larvae, then pupae, then adults, beginning the cycle again.
The fleas of cats will also bite humans. "Fleas are parasites, they are looking for blood to suck," says Dr. de Jong. "If they do not find enough cat hosts, they will suck the owner's ankles and feet."
However, the advent of effective preventive products against fleas and ticks has made these infestations much rarer than they used to be. If you are already using one and you think your cat may have fleas, talk to your veterinarian about what and how you are applying.
What are the symptoms of fleas in cats?
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The most common signs of a flea infestation include:
Scratching the head and ears.
Licking the bottom, especially between the hind legs.
Chewing or chewing
Loss of skin, especially on the upper back, from scratching and stinging
Black particles on the skin.
That black particulate matter is called "flea dirt". "That's an educated way of saying flea faeces," says Dr. de Jong. "If you take one of those excrements and wet it with a drop of water, it will turn red, because it is dried blood."
To detect an infestation, you can also use a flea comb and brush your cat to see if any fleas jump. In his hospital, Dr. de Jong will turn the animal and blow on the coat to see if there are fleas or flea excrement.
In any case, different skin parasites, such as Cheyletiella, can make cats scratch and scratch. For that reason, you should still see a veterinarian to confirm a flea infestation and rule out other possible causes.
What is the best flea treatment for cats?
In addition to ruling out other diseases, your veterinarian can administer products that will kill fleas on the animal within a day, says Dr. de Jong.
Then, your veterinarian is likely to recommend using a good preventative against ticks and fleas to keep pests away. These include topical, punctual treatments, such as Frontline and Advantage, or chewable tablets. When other fleas in your home jump over your pet, the product will also cause them to die, helping to reduce the infestation.
What are the home remedies for fleas in cats?
In addition to seeing your veterinarian, you can help your cat with these easy treatments. That is how:
1. Give your cat a flea bath.
You can use the Dawn dish detergent, but Dr. de Jong prefers to use a reputable brand of flea shampoo if he does not yet use a flea preventive. Ask your veterinarian what is best for your pet first. "You do not want to mix two different drugs in your animal's system," he says.
2. Use a flea comb to eliminate fleas and flea eggs.
Most brands recommend submerging the comb in warm, soapy water after each pass to eliminate and trap parasites. Combing in the direction of hair growth. Repeat several times a day for better results.
3. Treat your home.
Obviously, you want to get all the fleas out of your cat and make them as comfortable as possible, but that alone will not stop an infestation. "Fleas spend around 20% on animals and the rest of the time they are in the environment," says Dr. de Jong. "You have to get rid of the whole flea cycle."
How to get rid of fleas in the house?
To get rid of fleas in your environment, you should take precautions similar to those of lice, bed bugs or other pests. Follow these tips from the Environmental Protection Agency:
Vacuum floors, furniture and everything your pet has daily.
Seal and discard the vacuum bag afterwards.
Steam carpets to kill persistent fleas.
Wash all bedding of the pet and family with hot water and soap every two weeks.
You can also apply insecticide according to the manufacturer's instructions or contact a professional exterminator to treat the house and yard. The most effective contain ingredients such as permethrin, imidacloprid or dinotefuran to kill adult fleas and an "insect growth regulator" such as methoprene or pyriproxyfen to stop the development of eggs and larvae, according to the Entomology Department of the University of Kentucky. Always follow the instructions and safety precautions on the label. It is typical to see new adult fleas after treatment, but continuous aspiration can stop the infestation without a second application.
Persistence is key when it comes to fleas, but by taking all the necessary steps, it is possible to stop an infestation and protect your cat from these unpleasant bloodsuckers.
Caroline picard Health editor Caroline is the health editor at GoodHousekeeping.com that covers nutrition, fitness, wellness and other lifestyle news.