Have you noticed your cat scratching more than usual? There’s a good chance it’s fleas, which means you need to act fast. Although they’re tiny, measuring between 1.5 to 3.2 millimetres, they can wreak absolute havoc on your pet, your home and your family’s health.
So how can you be sure it is, in fact, fleas? And what’s the best way to get rid of them? We’re talking about all things fleas in this article. Ready? One, two flea, let’s go!
How To Tell If Your Cat Has Fleas
Hell hath no fury like a flea infestation, which is why you need to take action as soon as possible. Signs your cat’s space has been invaded by these tiny critters include:
Excessive scratching or biting
If you notice your cat scratching or biting at their skin, especially around the neck, back legs, lower back and tail, there’s a good chance fleas are to blame. Because flea bites are extremely itchy, you might also notice your cat grooming itself more than usual.
Sores or scabs
Not only are flea bites itchy, but some cats are also allergic to their spit. Red sores and scabs on your cat’s skin, along with bald patches, is a common sign of a flea infestation. If left untreated, this can lead to a secondary bacterial infection known as pyoderma.
The problem with spotting a flea infestation in its early stages, other than their size, is the life cycle. The eggs look like tiny grains of salt. Once they are laid, it can be between six to eight weeks before they hatch. This means you might only notice the infestation once they’re moving around.
Another tell-tale sign is flea poo. These dark clumps of ‘dirt’ are partly made up of your pet’s dried blood and can be seen on your cat’s skin and coat.
Prolonged flea infestations can lead to anaemia, which can leave your cat feeling lethargic and listless. If your cat has pale gums, isn’t as active as usual and has lost its appetite, it’s worth checking for fleas.
Let’s face it, any cat worth its weight can be moody, but a cat with fleas is next level grumpy. If your cat is restless, irritable or more agitated than usual, it’s worth a visit to the vet.
If your cat is losing weight, and its coat looks lacklustre, it could very well be because of fleas. It’s worth talking to your vet about the best flea treatment for cats.
How To Get Rid of Fleas
Unfortunately, finding fleas on your cat is only half the battle won. Not only are these tiny terrors fast breeders, but they’re also invasive. And that’s not all. It’s estimated that the fleas you see on your cat only represent 5% of the problem. The other 95% are in your home in the form of eggs, larvae or pupae. Gives you the heebie-jeebies, doesn’t it?
That’s the bad news. The good news is there are effective ways to get rid of fleas and prevent them from coming back. Follow our easy steps to make your home a flea-free zone.
Use a preventative treatment
When it comes to fleas, prevention is definitely better than the cure. Spot-on treatments are especially effective in preventing and getting rid of infestations. They’re quick and easy to use, and only need to be applied every 28 to 30 days. Ask your vet how best to use the treatment, where to apply it, how much needs to be applied, and how regularly.
Other treatments include shampoos, sprays, dusts and collars. Before using a product, check that it’s safe to use on your cat and isn’t harmful to other pets and family members. Ask your vet to recommend the most effective solution for your cat.
Treat your home
Unfortunately, flea infestations aren’t confined to your cat. Chances are highly likely there are flea larvae, pupae and eggs in its bedding, as well as your couches and carpets.
To rid your home of fleas, you need to:
- Vacuum daily – Vacuuming every day will get rid of flea eggs before they have time to hatch. Remember to vacuum everywhere; carpets, cushions, couches, under curtains, as well as in nooks and crannies. And don’t forget to throw the vacuum bag away or wash the dust canister with soapy water. Fleas are feisty and will find a way back into your home if you don’t dispose of them properly.
- Do a thorough clean once a week – fleas can live up to three months, so you’re going to need to be fastidious about cleaning your home. Wash bedding (yours and your pet’s), cushion covers, and any other fabric items your cat has come into contact with once a week.
- Call in the professionals – for more severe infestations, you might want to call in a professional. Flea bombs, foggers and fumigators are all effective in treating fleas around your home, but you need to keep children and pets away.
De-flea all your pets
To get rid of fleas, as well as their eggs, it’s essential for you to de-flea all your pets, even if they’re not showing symptoms. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and hedgehogs, they’re all prone to flea infestations.
Getting Rid of Fleas in Your Garden
Fleas thrive in humid conditions, which means there’s a very good chance they’re in your garden. Here’s how to get rid of them once and for all.
- Check your garden for flea-friendly areas – To get rid of fleas, you need to know where they are. Keep an eye on your pet for a few days to see where it likes lying. These areas can become a hot-spot for fleas. Also, make a note of shady and humid places in your garden as these are ideal hiding (and breeding) spots for fleas.
- Mow the lawn – If you have an infestation in your garden, it’s a good idea to mow the lawn regularly. Fleas like to hide in the long grass. To get rid of them completely, however, it’s crucial that you don’t throw the cuttings on your compost pile.
- Remove debris – Make sure you remove any debris from your garden, including the beds. Twigs and leaves create a shady spot for fleas to live and breed. Exposing as much of your garden to the sun will help get rid of these pests.
- Sprinkle cedar chips around your garden – A good idea is to sprinkle cedar chips under bushes, in flower beds and around your pet’s favourite lounging spot. Because fleas dislike the smell, the chips act as a natural repellent.
Although summer is considered flea season in the UK, they can affect your pet throughout the year. Hopefully, our handy tips will help you stop these pests in their tracks.
Did you find this article useful? Let us know in the comments below.