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How To Get Rid Of Fleas From Your Cats. Photo KnowInsiders

Fleas can cause all sorts of health problems to your cats. Be sure to have some flea-prevention behaviors for yourself and protect your cat from bringing them indoors or from a visiting pet. If you do find fleas, don’t fret, there are many options for you and your cat to regain a flea-free life.

What are fleas?

Fleas are tiny, wingless insects that live on your cat’s body, feeding on blood and laying eggs in your cat’s fur, which then drop off throughout your home. A single flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs in its lifetime, and its full life cycle – from egg to larva to pupa to adult – can take place in a few weeks. Although they don’t live on humans, fleas do bite humans – especially on the ankles and lower legs – and they will also jump on and infest other pets in the household.

How to tell if your cat has fleas

Photo lawnstarter
Photo lawnstarter

There are several common signs that a cat might be suffering from a flea infestation, but it will take some investigating on your part to be sure. Fleas are very small — only about 1/12 – 1/16” long — which means when there’s only a handful of them, they aren’t that easy to spot. Plus, their reddish-brown color may blend in with your cat’s fur. Rather than focusing on spotting fleas visually, be on the lookout for these other common signs that your cat has fleas:

Itchy skin and excessive scratching: Although fleas can grow in numbers quickly, it doesn’t take very many of them to send your cat on a scratching spree. Besides the overall movement of the flea across your pet’s skin, your cat may also be allergic to flea saliva, which turns it into an irritant that causes sensitivity, itchiness, scratching and even small scabbed bumps on their skin.

Excessive biting on fur and legs: Besides scratching, your cat may resort to biting or gnawing at their fur, legs or feet in an effort to gain some relief.

Patchy hair loss, especially near the tail or neck: The saliva from even one flea could cause an allergic reaction that leads to hair loss, not to mention any fur that’s removed by your cat’s own biting or scratching.

Lethargy: A single flea can bite its host hundreds of times a day, sucking blood each time. In severe cases, where there are many fleas biting your pet, this blood loss can lead to anemia. Lethargy is a common symptom of this.

Visual cues: Once the fleas start to multiply, you may begin to see them. Look for light-colored specks in your pet’s coat or on their bedding (these are flea eggs), or black, pepper-like black in their coat or on their bedding (this is flea feces). You could also see the darker insects scurrying around within your pet’s coat.

READ MORE: How to House Train your Cats Effectively?

Why flea bites can be dangerous for cats

Photo mypetandi
Photo mypetandi

Flea bites are painful and itchy for your cat, and they can cause a range of problems, including:

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)

FAD is an allergy to flea saliva that can set off a severe reaction and intense itching from just a few flea bites. If your cat has FAD, their skin may look sore and crusty. They can also lose fur from over-grooming, bringing a higher risk of skin infection.

Anemia

Kittens and elderly cats can become anemic from blood loss if they have a heavy flea infestation and are bitten too many times.

Tapeworm

If your cat swallows fleas infected with tapeworm eggs while grooming, your cat can end up with a tapeworm infection.

Spreading diseases

Cat fleas can also spread disease, including the bacteria Bartonella (which can cause a potentially debilitating disease called ‘bartonellosis’ or ‘cat scratch disease’ in people), Rickettsia (which can cause a disease called rickettsiosis in people) and, more rarely, the serious human disease called typhus.

7 steps to get rid of fleas from your cats

1.Start with the right flea treatment for your cat

Treating your cat is always the first step in beating a flea infestation. And if you use an effective preventative product regularly, you’re unlikely to have a problem in the first place.

There are lots of different flea treatments available. Read on to find out which ones may be best suited to your furry friend and remember, you can always ask your vet for their recommendations.

Flea spot-ons

Spot-on flea treatments are easy to use and they can provide an effective way to remove fleas on your cat and protect them from fleas in the first place.

How spot-on flea treatments work can vary. Advantage for cats is a monthly spot-on which owners simply drop onto the skin on the back of the cat’s neck at the base of the skull. It then releases the active ingredient throughout your cat’s skin to protect their body from nose to tail for up to 28 days. Advantage kills fleas through contact so they don’t have to bite your pet to be killed. 2 This helps prevent cats suffering the irritation of flea bites, and it can provide relief for cats who are affected by flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), a skin allergy caused by flea saliva.

Fleas can cause serious skin disease in cats, so if your cat has patchy fur, sore skin, or seems generally unwell then ask your vet to check them over.

Remember, your cat will only be fully protected from fleas with a regular, consistent flea control programme. It can help to make a note of the date you gave the first dose, so you know when to retreat. Advantage for cats should be used at least every four weeks. You will need to choose the right product for your cat’s age and weight, which you can purchase without prescription from pet stores nationwide as well as from many online pet stores.

2.Clean your pet’s bedding

Photo NY Times
Photo NY Times

You can vacuum your pet’s bedding but it’s better to wash it at the hottest

temperature the material can take to kill fleas, or any flea eggs hiding in there. Tumble- drying on the highest temperature that the fabric can withstand will also help.

Keep your cat indoors if possible. Understandably, you want your feline friend to be able to have fun outside with you or enjoy their natural inclinations but fleas live outside and are just waiting to pounce on the fur of your cat.

Keep the yard well-maintained. Fleas live in grassy lawns and moist brush. They’re not fans of the sun, so try and make sure fleas wouldn’t want to come to your yard. That way your cat is less likely to get fleas while prowling the backyard with you.

3. Wash everything else

Strip all beds, take the covers off cushions and wash and dry them in as hot a temperature as possible. The same applies to your clothes and other laundry, which may have been exposed to your flea problem (it’s usually when you’re faced with nuking your favourite sweater that you really start to hate fleas!).

4. Vacuum, vacuum again and then vacuum a bit more

Photo Getty
Photo Getty

To get rid of cat fleas in the home you need to vacuum all carpets and soft furnishings, like sofas, every other day for at least three weeks. Bad infestations may take longer. Pay attention to cracks in skirting boards, corners of the room and behind beds – areas where the eggs and larvae tend to lurk. You may also find flea dirt (the black specks of flea faeces) here, which may be acting as a food source for juvenile fleas.

5.Spray or fog your home

After your initial vacuuming session, use an anti-flea household spray in every room to kill any adult fleas and larvae the vacuum might have missed. It’s worth taking time to do this thoroughly, treating all the rooms in the house, the car, under the bed and on the sofa.

Follow the instructions on the packaging about dosage and frequency, and make sure you keep your pet and your family away while the product is at work.

You may need to do a top-up treatment to catch any eggs that haven’t hatched yet.

Foggers and flea bombs offer a way to cover a large area of the home at once, but it’s important to be aware that you may need to use a spray to catch areas the fogger hasn’t been able to reach, such as under furniture.

Find out which other flea hotspots you need to be aware of in your home.

6.Use natural ingrdients

Spices

Photo catoverdose
Photo catoverdose

One of the easiest things you can do for a flea-infested cat is to spice up their life with natural ingredients you might find in your kitchen. Because of a natural compound known as carvacrol, oregano oil can be very effective at removing fleas; start by mixing one teaspoon of oregano oil with three teaspoons of olive oil and apply small amounts of the solution to areas where fleas tend to congregate, like your cat’s ears, stomach, tail, and neck. Fleas also don’t particularly care for rosemary; try grinding the leaves into a powder and sprinkling it in the areas where your cat tends to hang out in your home.

If your cat won’t allow you to apply topical treatments to his or her fur, you can try mixing a small amount (less than a teaspoon) of cumin into your cat’s food. The spice will make your cat’s skin become very unappetizing to fleas.

If you don’t have any of these spices on hand, a little bit of table salt can also do the trick, as it helps dehydrate and kill the fleas on your cat. Better yet, it works to kill fleas and flea eggs that may be lurking in your carpet (just sprinkle it on), or when mixed with water, it can be used to treat hard surfaces.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Photo dogtime
Photo dogtime

Another grocery store product that fleas don’t particularly enjoy is apple cider vinegar. While it’s not effective at killing the bugs, apple cider vinegar can cause fleas to jump from your cat’s body so that you can better tackle the issue, making it a great first attack in your personal war against fleas. Try mixing the apple cider vinegar with water in a 2:1 ratio and spraying it onto your cat’s coat. Fleas can be a stubborn bunch, so you may have to undergo a few home treatments of applying the vinegar to your cat’s fur in order to become completely flea-free.

You’ll also want to be sure to vacuum all floors and upholstery (and immediately dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag), wash all bedding in hot water, and consider removing pet food bowls, bird feeders, garbage cans and any other sources of food from your yard so as to not attract wildlife who can re-infect your pet.

Lavender and Chamomile

A gentle way to soothe your pet’s skin—and maybe even help him or her take a little cat nap—lavender is actually a powerful, fast-acting agent against fleas. In fact, some studies have shown that formulas containing diluted lavender were just as effective at killing fleas as commercial chemical sprays. To put lavender to good use in your home, let fresh lavender steep in water overnight before straining the liquid and spraying it onto your cat’s coat (no need to rinse).

Another compound that’s known for soothing the skin, loose chamomile tea can also be used to attack fleas on your feline friend. Simply steep the tea and, after it’s fully cooled, apply the liquid to your cat’s coat. You can repeat both treatments daily for as long as needed.

Flea Medicines

If the flea home remedies aren’t cutting it, you can check with your vet for some heavy-duty flea medication or head to your local pet store for over the counter flea medication. Make sure they’re safe for cats, as mentioned earlier, some flea medicines for dogs are toxic for cats.

There is a wide selection of flea medication for cats, from sprays and collars to oils and pills to hide in the food. Make sure to read if there are any side effects and that it’s appropriate for your cat to take, especially if they’re elderly or have a history of some health issues.

No matter which route you go, home remedies or medication for fleas, always de-flea your home. You never know where the eggs have rolled or where those pests are hiding.

7.Make an Ongoing Plan to Treat and Prevent Fleas on Your Cat

Photo Pets
Photo Pets

Ongoing vigilance combined with flea protection and prevention is the key to disrupting the flea life cycle. It may take a few months to end the infestation, so don’t get discouraged. Even if you continue seeing a flea or two on your cat from time to time, that doesn’t mean the products aren’t working.

To help prevent a flea infestation from returning, follow these steps:

Check your cat at least weekly with a flea comb and look for signs of itching and scratching.

Set reminders to apply or administer treatment and prevention products according to product labels.

Be cognizant of your cat’s interactions with other pets, animals or people to determine the risk of catching fleas.

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