All you need to know about cat fleas and how to get rid of them
Cats and Fleas
You can prevent fleas becoming a problem by regularly treating both your cat and your home.
Basic facts about cat fleas:
Fleas have four life stages: egg, lava, pupa and finally biting adult.
Fleas feed on the blood of their host – cats, dog, humans, birds and reptiles.
About 95 per cent of flea eggs and larvae live in the environment; your home – on beds, rugs, carpets and sofas – not on your cat.
The female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime.
A flea can live more than 100 days without a blood meal.
Female cat fleas can lay 20 to 50 eggs per day, which hatch in 2 to 5 days.
A flea can live up to one year.
Female cat fleas can lay 20 to 50 eggs per day.
The female flea consumes 15 times her own body weight in blood daily.
A flea can jump up to 8 inches high, or approximately 150 times its own height.
Under ideal conditions, a cat flea can complete its entire lifecycle in just two weeks.
Cat Fleas and your home
Cat fleas like warm and humid environments, so your nice, warm home is ideal.
Adult fleas spend their entire lives on your cat; eating, living, and mating before the female produces eggs.
The eggs fall off into the environment, where they hatch into larvae.
Has my cat got fleas?
Cat fleas love the warm, moist, safe home that is provided in a cats soft, furry coat.
The main way to tell if fleas are making a meal out of your cat is to take note of whether they are scratching or biting their skin and fur.
If you think that your cat has fleas, check the skin around the base of its tail or under the legs for tiny, moving black dots.
Using a flea comb is the easiest way to check for fleas – comb the fur and wipe the comb on a damp piece of kitchen towel; any reddish marks are from the flea dirt.
Preventing Cat Fleas and Treating Your Home
Stop cat fleas from taking over your home or pet by not giving them a chance in the first place.
In your home and garden you can help prevent a cat flea infestation by regularly cleaning out the areas where your pet rests.
Wash all pet bedding on a hot wash.
Treat your cat each month with a product recommended by your vet.
Flea Bite Hypersensitivity in Cats
Flea allergy dermatitis
Some cats may develop an allergy to flea saliva, which causes severe irritation and itchiness.
Fleas regurgitate digestive juices onto the skin of a bite site while they suck blood from their host, and sometimes cats can have serious allergies to this juice.
This allergy is called fleabite allergic dermatitis and can be developed over the course of a cats lifetime.
Cats that are allergic to flea bites (flea allergy dermatitis) can show excessive grooming and scratching from even just a single bite.
Flea bite hypersensitivity or flea allergic dermatitis causes severe itching.
This condition is called pruritis.
As only one or two flea bites a week can cause pruritis, symptoms will often persist even after some form of flea treatment has been applied to your cat.
Most cat owners will first notice frequent and severe itching and scratching, hair loss, and scabs on their cat’s skin.
Fleas or flea dirt may not be easily visible.
Only a few fleas can cause problems to sensitive cats.
Only ever use products made for cats –dog flea treatment can be highly toxic to cats.
Fleas feed on blood, so young kittens, frail or older animals can become weak and even die as a result of blood loss. This is called flea anaemia.
Lethargy, disinterest in food, pale gums and low weight are some of the symptoms.
Flea larvae can become infected with tapeworm eggs. If your cat has fleas you should also make sure he/she is treated for worms.
A bad flea infestation can cause a lot of distress but is easily treated: