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Aside from dogs, fleas can also cause torment on your cats. In fact, most of the flea infestation cases we experience in the U.S. are due to the Ctenocephalides felis or cat fleas. If not treated right away, severe flea infestation on cat can wreak havoc on the health of your kitty and your skin will be caught in the crossfire.
To get these freeloaders off your pets’ fur, we discussed here some tips that you can do. But if all else fails, the opinion of a veterinarian is unbeatable.
Fleas on cats
Yes, even your cats can contract fleas. These tiny bloodsuckers will leave itchy bites on the feline’s skin, causing hotspots and open wounds.
Also, fleas are difficult to control once it has erupted into a full-blown infestation. Aside from being bloodsuckers, fleas are also jumpers. They can hurdle up to 7 inches vertically and up to 13 inches horizontally.
With this, the only way to stay on top of an infestation is to keep it at bay all year round.
If ever your cat got infested, you must identify the problem so you can mitigate the flea population fast. Adult fleas are just the tip of the iceberg. Somewhere in your home, nymphs and more adult fleas are harboring.
It always pays to keep a keen eye on your cat’s coat. Also, if you have multiple pets at home, the risk of acquiring a flea infestation escalates.
In this video, Shelley Jovel shows what a severe flea infestation on cat looks like:
How cats get fleas
Most cats have thick fur and warm skin, a perfect harborage for fleas. Also, they are vulnerable sources of nourishing blood that will keep the flea infestation going.
So how does a cat acquire fleas? There are a variety of possible scenarios here, but the following are the most common:
*Exposure to infested pets – If another pet visited your home before the flea infestation, it’s possible that your cat acquired it from that other kitty or doggo. Take note that dog fleas can also infect cats and vice versa. These two flea species also attack humans for blood.
*You brought your cat outdoors – It can be challenging to identify where you cat got the fleas. However, the outdoor environment is one of the common culprits. Fleas can be dropped on the ground and transferred to your feline.
*Your home has an existing infestation – If you have a new cat and it got infested with fleas after a week or two, you should consider that your home is the source. Sometimes, fleas just hide on tiny crevices until a food source is available. Take note that an adult flea can survive up to 100 days without feeding.
Take note that these are just some of the possible ways that your cat can acquire fleas.
How to know if your cats have fleas
It’s quite easy to check if your cat has fleas. These tiny insects will leave visual marks on your pets’ skin. And if the infestation has been lingering for long, it could even be the root of infections and other serious health problems on your kitty.
Here are some of the signs of mild to severe flea infestation on cat:
*Shaking head constantly
*Excessive grooming as an effort to remove the fleas
*Losing fur or developing bald patches
*Scabs and red bumps on the skin, commonly found on the back or neck area
*Crawling or jumping insects with a brownish color
Take note that even a well-groomed cat that has been taken care of properly can have fleas. Some owners will also find it shocking when they discover that their pets are hosts to fleas.
You should know that what you’ll see on your cat’s coat is just a small population of the pest. There are a larger egg and nymph population within your house that’s brewing a larger infestation.
Fleas lay up to 50 eggs a day. Just imagine how massive the infestation will be in a matter of weeks.
Risks of fleas on cats
Fleas don’t just irritate the skin of your kitty; it also brings various diseases that will compromise the health of your pets. Here’s how dangerous fleas can be, much so if left untreated.
The leading impact of fleas among cats is skin irritation. Since the bites itch, your pet will scratch the affected area continuously, causing wounds and scabs all over.
If this is untreated, the open wounds would be a perfect gateway for a variety of infections.
Usually, cats will develop the so-called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). This happens when the cats become hypersensitive to bites.
The flea saliva triggers the immune system to respond to the irritation. What happens here is that the effect of the fleas extends beyond the bites. Over time, this will lead to widespread infection on the skin.
Also called Bartonella, this is an infection caused by a bacteria found in flea feces. If the feces were dropped on the bitten or wounded areas, your cat would likely become infected.
A lot of cats don’t exhibit strong clinical symptoms of Bartonella. Usually, this infection will cause heart disease, eye inflammation, mouth and gum disease, and other conditions.
Moreover, cats can be a host to the infection and carry it for a long time. There’s also a chance that they can transfer it to the feeding fleas and into other cats.
Fleas are notorious for being the carriers of various diseases, bacteria, and infection. One of which is tapeworms.
These parasitic worms are actually inside the fleas’ body. When your cat grooms itself and swallows the infested flea, the kitty will have the tapeworm.
The tapeworms will cling to the intestinal walls of your cat and will steal nutrients from your pet’s body.
One way to confirm if your cat has been infected with tapeworms is to check its bottom. Most of the time, cats will have rice grain-like matter near their anus. It’s actually packets of tapeworms that have exited the body. It’s also a sign that there’s more inside the body of your cat.
Since fleas suck blood, anemia will ensue if the infestation isn’t controlled. This is more prevalent to kittens due to their smaller bodies.
If you notice that your cat becomes weak, lethargic, and breathing laboriously, you should bring it to the vet right away. Extreme anemia can lead to death if the not treated right away.
The threat of cat fleas to humans
Aside from the risk fleas bring to your cat’s health, it can also pose a danger to you as the cat owner.
First of all, both dog and cat fleas bite humans for blood. This happens more prominently if the cat was removed from the house, say your pet got confined in the vet clinic.
Here’s what you should watch out for:
Take note that the fleas that infested your cat can transfer the same infections to you through biting. Aside from that, the red bites will itch and make your skin swollen.
Usually, flea bites are located around the ankle and lower leg. It’s rare for fleas to bite on the upper areas of the body as bed bugs do.
Those with a hypersensitive immune system may have allergic reactions on the flea saliva. In worst cases, the individual may experience the difficulty of breathing, fever, and dizziness after the bites. Still, this is very rare and will likely happen if the bites are too many.
Since human bodies are way larger than cats, there are no reported cases of anemia due to fleas. Still, humans may acquire tapeworm if they happen to ingest an infected flea in any way.
Treating severe flea infestation on cat
Once you confirm that your cat has fleas, you should seek treatment right away. There are various options, depending on the scale of the infestation. Here’s what you can do:
Giving your cat regular baths will not just prevent an infestation. It will also allow you to discover the presence of fleas right away.
Always use a cat shampoo since any soap or detergent usually kill fleas. Also, we recommend that you bathe the kitty on the tub to prevent the fleas from jumping away.
After bathing the feline, use a wide-toothed comb to brush its fur. Take your time in this part and make sure that you check for scabs or tiny insects crawling around.
Also, even if you’re not bathing your cat, make sure that you brush its fur from head to tail a few times a day.
If you see fleas, dip the comb in soap dish water to kill the insects.
If your cats already have scabs and flea bites, you can apply topical remedies to ease the itch and to prevent further infections. Take note that this should be duly prescribed by a veterinarian, especially if your cat has an underlying condition.
Here are some of the common topical remedies for cats with fleas:
*Combination of Imidacloprid and Flumethrin
Sometimes, vets will recommend pairing topical remedies with oral medicines to ease the flea bites. The usual prescription here is nitenpyram. It’s a pill that you cat can eat and will start killing the fleas within 30 minutes once they fed on the feline. However, the effects of this pill don’t last long.
Another option is spinosad. Unlike nitenpyram, this one has a longer effect that can last for up to a month. Your cat will be protected from the fleas within this timeline.
At the end of the month, you should consult the vet first if it’s safe to administer another pill to your kitty.
After treating your cat, make sure that you also check your other furry pets. The fleas may transfer to them if you don’t watch out.
How to protect your cat from fleas
To prevent severe flea infestation on cat, you can make use of the following tips:
*Keep the kitty indoors
Fleas thrive outdoors and live indoors. Since cats are mostly indoor pets, it’s best to keep them tucked inside your home.
Take note that cats that roam outdoors have a higher chance of acquiring fleas. If it’s impossible to contain the kitty outdoors, make sure that you have a flea protection plan in place. You can make use of a flea collar to ward off the pests.
*Always keep the area clean
Vacuuming and cleaning your home reduces the risk of fleas harboring inside. Try to get into hidden crevices to suck out any hiding fleas, nymphs, and eggs.
If you notice tiny insects inside the vacuum bag, dispose of it with a sealed opening.
*Wash your cat’s bed regularly
Take note that fleas stay within the areas where your cats love to lay down. It’s best to get a washable cat bedding so you can toss it to the washing machine.
Make sure that you wash it at the highest temperature possible. Also, place the bedding in the dryer for up to 30 minutes, depending on the type of fabric used.
If you notice fleas on the bedding, place it inside a sealed bag before bringing it to your laundry area. This will prevent a fall-out on your living room and other areas of the house.
*Treat all your pets when one gets infested
If one of your furry pets acquired fleas, you should treat the whole pack. Fleas can transfer fast, so you have to be proactive at all times.
When to visit the vet
Sometimes, fleas can be treated using home remedies. However, if your cat is starting to develop bald patches, you should bring it to the vet right away.
The vet will prescribe the right medications for the cat. This is important, especially if your pet has a sensitive condition.
A severe flea infestation on cat should be treated right away. If you can’t handle it on your own, it’s always best to seek the help of a veterinarian and a flea expert.
What do you think of our tips here? Let us know!