Whether your cat is strictly indoors or ventures outside, fleas, ticks, and mosquitos are a constant threat to your cat. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to arm your cat against these nuisances and disease-transmitting enemies. The occasional flea found on your cat may not seem like much of a burden. However, if left untreated, a few fleas quickly give rise to more fleas and before long, your cat will be crawling (or jumping!) with them. Fleas are everywhere. Even the cleanest, most pampered cats can get fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are small, wingless insects that are external parasites, living off the blood of mammals and birds. As these animals crawl around your yard, they deposit flea eggs that grow into adult fleas seeking a home. Your cat wandering outside offers the new crop of fleas a safe haven, a source of food (blood), and a good place to raise a family. In addition to these sources, your cat can also pick up fleas from other infested dogs or cats.
How do fleas harm cats?
The scratching caused by fleas can lead to skin damage and secondary infection. Fleas can also pass on diseases such as tapeworm, cat scratch disease, and blood parasites. Getting rid of fleas from your cat and your home can be a major chore in some cases, so it is best to focus on preventing them. Fleas can pose an extra threat to your senior cat because his/she is more likely than adult cats to have a compromised immune system, and they may be more prone to severe problems from fleas. For example, if a skin infection occurs from your cat scratching or biting an area of skin affected by flea bites, it may be more difficult for your cat to fight off the infection. Your senior cat may be more susceptible to anemia, as well.
Why is treating and preventing fleas so important?
You can bring fleas into your home on your clothing, and any people or animals that come into your home can also bring fleas with them. Once fleas find a host, they begin to feed almost immediately. They lay large numbers of eggs, which eventually mature into new fleas that continue the infestation. Adult fleas may remain on your cat, but the eggs and larvae fall off and remain in the environment. Flea larvae are mobile, and they can hide in places such as carpeting, bedding, furniture, and baseboards. Once they mature, they take the first opportunity to jump onto your cat or you and begin to feed, continuing their life cycle
Simple steps for treating fleas in your cat.
Please schedule an appointment at our animal hospital as soon as possible. One of our veterinarians will assess your cat’s overall health and determine the best plan of attack to get rid of the fleas. Your vet will prescribe a medication to break the life cycle of the flea thus killing the fleas. All other pets in the home will need to be treated, as well. Never, ever use a flea product designed for dogs to treat your cat. Flea treatments for dogs can be toxic to cats and can cause serious harm to your senior cat. Vacuum and steam clean carpeting in your home and car. Wash your cat’s carrier and any bedding where your cat may sleep, including your own bedding, in hot water.
Depending on the severity of the infestation a premise spray may be recommended for your home which contains insect regulators to prevent the fleas from infesting the environment. These products can be toxic to animals, so make sure to remove all pets from your home during use. Practice proper hygiene, including washing your hands after petting your cat and cleaning the litter box in order to prevent the transfer of fleas, flea eggs, pupae and tapeworms to humans and animals in your home. If your home is severely infested with fleas, consider hiring a pest exterminator. It is vital to seek the advice of one of our veterinarians before starting your cat on a flea prevention regimen. Not all flea control options may be appropriate for older cats, kittens, or cats with concurrent illness and many carry restrictions regarding age or weight. Some over-the-counter (non-veterinary products) can be harmful and even fatal to your cat.