Fleas are one of the most common pests we see on our cats and can be difficult to get rid of. Prevention is always easier than treatment since it takes at least 3 months of continuous treatment to get control of a flea issue in your home. Ticks have been increasing annually in their prevalence. Ticks are more common in cats that go outside, however, fleas can be on cats that are indoors or out.
How do I know if my cat has fleas?
Thankfully, these parasites are easily identified by the naked eye. You can generally see fleas on your cat. Fleas can move very quickly and can jump very high so can be easy to miss. Often what you will see is the digested blood (flea dirt) the flea passes in your cat’s hair coat. The best way to find this is by using a flea comb or putting them on a white towel and rubbing them all over. The flea dirt will likely fall off on the white towel and if you place some water on it, it will change to a red or rust colour indicating the presence of the blood whereas normal dirt just stays brown or black in colour.
Do fleas harm cats?
Fleas can harm cats in a few ways. They are irritating and itchy. Some cats can have intense allergic reactions to fleas causing them to pull out their fur or damage their skin resulting in scabs over their body. Once a flea has come into your home, it begins laying eggs and an infestation can quickly develop. Fleas can also be a source of intestinal parasites for cats. While they are grooming and biting at themselves, sometimes they inadvertently eat a flea. This can result in a tapeworm infection. There are also some blood parasites that can be transmitted by fleas and in very severe infestations, the fleas can cause blood loss that can be life-threatening. This is very rare and generally only seen in really small kittens with very large numbers of fleas.
Why is treating and preventing fleas so important?
Due to the potential harm that fleas can cause listed above, prevention is always better than treatment. Also, since it takes at least 3 months to completely rid your home of fleas once they are established, prevention is always better than treatment.
What are some simple steps for treating fleas in your senior cat?
Flea medications have improved dramatically in recent years. Products are safer and easier to use than ever. We no longer have to use sprays, mousses and baths on a regular basis. Products range from topicals that can be applied once a month or once every 12 weeks, an injection that can be given every 6 months or a monthly tablet. Some of these products also cover additional parasites like ticks or intestinal parasites. Feel free to discuss with one of our team members which products are best for your cat.