Even if you’re extremely cautious and your kitten is an indoor pet, there’s a chance your cat might still get fleas. They cause your cat to itch and scratch, and get onto your clothes and into your house. Here are some tips on preventing, recognizing, and treating fleas.
The best way to deal with fleas is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Keep your grass mowed and bushes and plants trimmed and neat. Avoid contact with wildlife like raccoons, opossums, or feral cats that might be carrying fleas and other parasitic insects. Fix fences or sheds that might let them in or your pets out. Keeping your cat indoors will prevent them from coming into contact with other animals.
Keeping the inside of your house clean makes it less inviting to pests, including fleas. Flea eggs and larvae often live in carpets and rugs so vacuum them regularly and wash them at least every few months.
Flea control products, topical repellents, and oral medications can help prevent your pet from having a full-on infestation. Topical products kill off adult fleas and prevent eggs and larvae from growing. You need to be consistent with flea prevention treatment. Just one missed dose could mean a massive flea problem. Bathe and comb your pet regularly to remove any bugs that may have found their way into your furry friend’s fur.
Fleas thrive in warmer weather, so pay extra close attention and take extra precautions in the spring and summer.
Despite your best efforts, your pet may still be exposed to fleas. Since your cat can’t tell you that he’s experiencing a problem, it’s up to you to pay attention and recognize the signs that he has fleas. The first and most obvious sign is excessive itching and scratching. This goes beyond normal pet itches. It’s a more obsessive scratching, licking, and chewing. Your cat may have a very sudden urge to scratch one particular spot where he’s getting bitten.
In cats, head shaking and itching their ears could be a sign that they have fleas on their heads. They may also groom themselves more than usual in order to get rid of the insects.
You’ll have to physically check your cat’s coat to ensure that he really does have fleas. This is much easier if your cat is a lighter color. Fleas are black or brown, tiny, and move very fast, so it can be tough to see them with the naked human eye. Armpits, belly, and the groin are common places for fleas to live, so check for redness or skin lesions there. Running a special flea comb across your cat’s fur makes it easier to find insects that might be hiding.
If you find that your cat does have fleas, there are a number of steps you’ll have to take to get rid of them. Wash your cat with a flea shampoo to kill adult insects living in his fur. After doing this, you’ll still need to remove eggs and larvae. Certain oral medications prevent flea eggs from hatching and stop larvae from growing up, so they eventually die and cannot lay more eggs. You may need some extra help from a vet if the infestation is particularly bad.
You’ll also need to keep your home sparkling clean to make sure that there aren’t any leftover eggs hiding. Wash all linens and towels, and run recently worn clothes through the washer and dryer for good measure. Clean fabric, furniture, and vacuum, wash and treat any carpets and throw rugs. Be sure to get the hard to reach places that might be a haven for bugs.