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Cat FLEAS - external parasite   For Cat Flea and Pest Control Products - CLICK HERE

Symptoms:

  • There are many species of fleas. All are minute insects that feed on the blood of mammals. Cat fleas (ctenocephalides felis) are the most common external parasite found on cats. Species of fleas that prefer dog blood or the blood of other mammals, will settle for cat blood when necessary.

  • Although small, fleas can be seen with the human eye. They are brown to black, with wingless, laterally compressed bodies. Adult fleas are extremely powerful jumpers. A human with a flea's jumping ability would be able to leap over a hundred story building in a single bound!

  • Fleas cause cats irritation and discomfort, are the most common cause of feline skin disease, carry tapeworms and can cause anemia. Fleas multiply rapidly, especially in warm, humid weather and will bite humans.

  • If you suspect fleas are troubling your cat, inspect places where your cat sleeps for flea dirt. Flea dirt looks like small dark specks and is actually flea excrement consisting of digested blood. When you add a few drops of water to the specks, the water will turn a reddish brown. Next, comb your cat with a flea comb (very fine toothed comb) particularly around the neck, belly and tail. If you've noticed flea dirt and your cat has been scratching, chances are very good you'll see some of the nasty critters squirming in between the teeth of the comb!

  • Now that you've confirmed a flea invasion, it's time to develop a strategy. Your plan must involve more than just treating your cat since most of flea's life cycle is spent off the cat. It works like this: the fleas develop in four stages: egg, larva, pupa (cocoon) and adult. The adults live on your cat, gorging on blood and laying eggs. The eggs fall off the cat and into your carpet, your bed and into the crevices of your furniture.

  • If conditions are favorable for survival, the eggs hatch and pass into the larva and pupa stage. (Eggs, larvae and pupae represent 95 percent of the flea population in your home and can lie dormant for months.) When they become adults, the fleas jump onto your cat and start the cycle all over again. Since each female flea can lay more than 500 eggs, it only takes a few weeks before both your cat and your home have a serious problem.

  • Even if you don't have fleas now, if you allow your cat to go outside and you live in a flea friendly geographical area, you can be sure a flea battle is in your future. Even indoor cats can get fleas since these determined critters will hitch rides into your home on socks or pant cuffs.

Treatment:

  • Although flea infestations are much easier to control in homes with indoor-only cats, strenuous measures will still need to be taken in order to eliminate the problem. In any case, getting your flea problem under control will require treating your cat, your home and in some cases the outside environment.

  • The first part of the solution starts with your cat. A daily flea combing will capture some of the fleas -- just be careful they don't jump off the comb and back on to the cat. (To kill the flea, drop it into a solution of hot water and dish soap.) You can also give your cat a bath with a flea shampoo formulated for felines (look for a product with synergized pyrethrins or permethrins). Read the directions carefully! Start by shampooing the cat's head, using your fingers to work the shampoo around the cat's chin, neck and ears. Work the soap back from the head, over the body, belly and legs and on to the tip of the tail. Rinse well with warm water and blot your cat dry. Do not let the cat become chilled. Drying should be done in a room that has already been treated for fleas.

  • If you are using a flea collar, remove it before the bath and do not put it back on for 24 hours (to avoid overexposure to insecticides). A new flea collar should be taken out of the package and aired for 24 hours before putting it on the cat to reduce the possibility of skin irritation. Remember when using shampoos, dips, sprays, powders and collars that all of these can be toxic to your cat and must be used with extreme caution. Using more than one product can result in overdosing and possibly poisoning your cat with insecticides.

  • Your home and possibly yard (if you allow your cat outdoors) will also need to be treated. Start by cleaning your house thoroughly. Mop floors and vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture. After vacuuming, remove the bag and throw it away. (Flea collars make an excellent addition to your vacuum cleaner bag because the collar will kill any fleas swept into the bag.) All pet bedding, pet toys and throw rugs must be washed. Don't forget -- this is war!

  • A powder can be purchased at our store to rid your home of fleas. If you want to apply the powder yourself, you will save money and enjoy equal results (providing you are willing to do the work with the brush). Five pounds of powder will cover up to 1,300 square feet and costs about $30.00.

  • If you have hard wood or tile floors, you may want to try an IGR (insect growth regulator) made for application to the hard surfaces of your home. A common IGR for this purpose is methoprene.  See the IGR product to the right of this article.. It comes in a spray bottle for use on window sills and baseboards. Be sure to follow the instructions on labels and make sure that treated surfaces are completely dry before allowing your cat to come in contact with them.

  • If you insist on letting your cat go outdoors, you will also need to treat areas outside your home, including yards, porches and gardens. There are two types of outdoor products. One is a concentrate that is sprayed on with an applicator that attaches to your hose. Another is applied with a spreader followed by a thorough watering. Since these products contain dangerous pesticides, follow directions carefully and make sure treated areas are completely dry before allowing animals or people on the premises. It is important to remember that all substances used to repel and kill fleas can be poisonous if ingested by your cat.

  • Any product that is applied directly to your cat should be made specifically for felines and directions should be followed explicitly. Some cats will still have adverse reactions to flea preparations or will develop a cumulative toxic effect to insecticides that are used repeatedly. Although collars, dips and flea baths may seem to be a more economical way of treating flea infestations, in the long run they are more expensive since treatment must be repeated -- and risks the health of the cat. Discuss options with your veterinarian or breeder and be willing to invest in effective, safe solutions.
















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