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My Cat Has Fleas | Treatment and Prevention

Picture of cat on a blanket

When it comes to external parasites, both fleas and ticks are a nuisance, and also rather dangerous. While ticks are less common in cats, especially indoor ones, fleas can make their presence known and cause physical discomfort rather often, and they can even transmit several diseases.

On top of everything, both of these external parasites can be dangerous to humans. Cat fleas are particularly versatile, so they will take advantage of any potential host they might be able to feed upon. If you do not treat your cat for fleas, your home might become infested, and getting rid of a whole adult and egg population can be a challenge, to say the least.

In this article, we’ll discuss what you can do to treat your cat if he or she has fleas, and also the measures you can take to prevent this issue from happening in the future.

Why are fleas dangerous?

There are two main reasons why fleas can pose a threat to your cat’s health. It goes without saying that they feed on your pet’s blood, and if your cat is unlucky enough to be the host of several or even a whole family of fleas, the animal will develop anemia with time. Anemia can be dangerous especially if your cat is older and has a host of other medical conditions for which he or she receives treatment, for example. The last thing you want to do is to let the fleas affect your pet’s immune system even more.

The other problem, however, is the fact that many fleas can transmit tapeworm. Cats can easily ingest a flea when they groom. These pesky little buggers can also transmit Haemobartonella, which is a blood parasite. So, basically, your cat can become sick both on the outside and on the inside.

Treatment

Depending on the severity of the infestation, you have to treat both your cat and the environment where you and the animal reside. The issue with this is that many home and yard flea treatments can be toxic for pets, so what you’d actually have to do is remove yourself and the animal from the house for one to two days and then air out every room as best as possible. The floors have to be cleaned, too.

There are a variety of flea treatments available on the market today. The first piece of advice we can give you is to go and talk to your vet to find out about the most suitable one for your specific pet. Why would it be a good idea to do this?

There are several forms you can choose from, but the most important thing to keep in mind here is that you have to select one that is effective, but also perfectly safe for the animal. For instance, if you have a kitten younger than 2-3 months of age, your vet might recommend a shampoo (which might not even contain a substance for killing fleas) or a flea comb, because the animal’s age, weight, immune system, and overall resistance to flea killers might not be the same as those of a full-sized adult cat. Obviously, getting rid of the fleas from your cat’s living environment can be a true challenge in this case, because you only have the option of using natural alternatives, and these rarely have the same effect as harsh flea killers.

Then there are topical solutions (spot-on treatments), as well as flea collars. Flea collars made for kittens usually contain natural extracts simply because they don’t have to be toxic to the animal whatsoever. Those for adults are effective, but the problem with them is that they don’t usually kill the fleas per se, but they do repel them.

Therefore, the optimal solution you could choose would be to apply a spot-on treatment and then several days after, collar your pet with a flea collar. Most of these products have a repellency of about 30 days, so if you find a good one, it might be a good idea to get several flea collars in bulk so that you change them every month.

There’s also medicine you can choose, but you need to make sure that your cat’s health is on par before giving her any pills or liquids. Capstar and Comfortis are two flea medicines that are popular, but as with any other drugs made for solving this problem, they can be more or less toxic, and they are unsafe to give to kittens. Besides, they don’t provide a long-lasting effect, so you still have to use a flea repellent like a collar.

What about internal parasites?

Even if you use a flea repellent, the likelihood of your cat being bitten by a flea while he or she is taking a stroll outside is very high, and so is the chance of the animal ingesting one flea. That is why worming your cat regularly is necessary, but above all else, you have to take your cat in for preventive physical examinations at least every six to twelve months.

Cats are more exposed to internal parasites when they are young, so it would be better if you took the animal to the vet three or even four times during the first year of life.

Prevention

One important mention that we must make when it comes to preventing fleas is that indoor-only cats aren’t immune to getting them, so you need to take preventive measures even in their case. You can get the fleas inside your home via your clothes or if you have a home where several pets live (including dogs), the animals can basically re-infest each other time and again.

Keep your home as clean as possible. Vacuum your carpets and wash the bedding where your cats sleep, and also change your sheets and clean them regularly, too, especially if your cats love to cuddle in bed with you in the evening. You can talk to your vet about flea killers for your house and yard, so that you can choose one that is safe for pets and kids, too.

You can also pre-treat your carpets with Borax and leave the powder to sit for an hour or so, vacuum it up well and then dispose of the vacuum bag. Don’t ever let your cats sit on the rugs before you’ve completely gotten rid of the Borax by vacuuming them.

If you had to treat your cat for fleas, we would advise you to leave him or her on an effective and safe flea preventive treatment all year long.

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