As part of their ongoing care, it’s important that you maintain flea treatment for your cat.
Failure to do so puts your cat at risk of developing further health issues, and can also lead to an infestation in your house.
What to look for if you suspect your cat has fleas
The irritant factor for your cat is high. A cat with fleas will possibly be more restless than is normal. It may shake its head a lot. It will probably scratch more than usual, and even chew on various parts of itself, or be licking itself in a way that is different to normal washing.
Fleas themselves can be seen fairly easily – although it can be more difficult to spot them on a cat with a dark coat. Key places to check for fleas are the armpits, around the ears, on the belly, the groin, and the base of the tail. Eggs are less obvious, but even if you don’t see fleas, that’s no guarantee that they don’t have any.
Flea treatment for your cat: the options
The two main options are concentrated topical treatments, and oral medications.
Topical treatments typically come in a small container, and are applied to the cat’s skin – the back of the neck is the most difficult place for the cat to access and lick off! Oral medications usually come in the form of tablets. Some types are fast acting and kill adult fleas. Others kill fleas before they lay eggs and last in the cat's system for around a month, preventing further hatching of eggs.
There are also flea collars, if your cat will wear one.
Issues if your cat is not treated
Treating fleas isn’t just about keeping your cat comfortable, although they’ll be much happier if they’re not constantly irritated and itchy. A flea infestation can lead to other health issues.
Scratching can damage the skin, which can become infected. Cats can get dermatitis from flea saliva, resulting in cracked, crusty and sore skin. They can also contract tapeworm from fleas. Young kittens with flea infestations are at risk of anaemia through blood loss.
Flea infestation in your home
Fleas, if left untreated, won’t just stay on your cat.
They’re likely to jump off the animal and take up residence in soft furnishings, linen, cracks in floorboards and other crevices around your home.
Given that one female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, it only takes a short time before you can have a significant issue in your house. So, what can you do to prevent this?
- Vacuum regularly – and make sure you get into cracks, down the sides of upholstered furniture. Make sure you dispose of the vacuum bag immediately, or wash out the canister with hot soapy water.
- Wash your cat's bedding weekly, on the hot cycle. For further back up, you can put it through a hot cycle in a tumble drier.
- For a more serious infestation, you might want to spray an appropriate insecticide through the house, or use a commercial flea bomb. Read the instructions carefully. All people and pets have to leave the house for the time specified on the packaging. You'll need to air out the house thoroughly on your return.
- If all that fails, you may have to call in the professionals.
Ultimately, prevention is the best cure. Keep flea treatments up-to-date and you’ll be saving your cat from discomfort and potential long-term health issues, as well as saving yourself from a lot of bother.