Cat fleas are irritating for your cat and your household, but whatever you do, they always seem to come back. They are a constant source of irritation and can be dangerous for cats. Not only do they sometimes carry disease and cause anemia, but the constant scratching can leave your cat’s skin raw and open to all kinds of infection. If you do not take measures against cat fleas they will soon infest not only your cat’s coat but your household furnishings and even your beds, biting you, your family and your guests any time that your cat is not around.
Here is our simple 10 step program for identifying and getting rid of these pesky parasites.
1. Be sure that fleas are the problem. Groom your cat with a fine flea comb and check for flea dirt – tiny black dots on the comb which are flea excrement. This contains some particles of the blood they ingested from the cat which you may be able to see if you squish the dirt on a kleenex.
2. Once you have identified cat fleas, continue to comb the cat thoroughly to catch adult fleas. Shake them off the comb into a bowl of hot water or household bleach.
3. You can also drown adult fleas by bathing the cat. You can use a flea shampoo if you wish but any baby shampoo will do the job.
4. Apply a topical cat flea product. This is normally applied to the skin at the back of the cat’s neck and will need reapplying once a month. Alternatively, fit your cat with a flea collar. Do the same for other cats in the household and use a dog flea product for any dogs. (Never use dog flea products on cats or vice versa.)
5. Next you need to clear the house of eggs. First wash all bedding (yours and the cat’s).
6. Vacuum all mattresses, carpets and upholstery thoroughly, paying special attention to cracks and crevices where flea eggs may be hidden.
7. If the infestation was bad, wash carpets or consider having your carpets and upholstery professionally steam cleaned.
8. Consider spraying your sofas and mattresses with anti-flea spray. Be sure to choose something that is safe for cats. Cover fish tanks and keep children and pets away while using the spray, do not use it near food and wash your hands after use.
9. In extreme cases you can buy an insecticide ‘bomb’ that will affect the whole house, or call a professional to treat your house. Again be sure to use cat friendly insecticides, remove other pets and make sure all food and pet food is airtight. You will have to evacuate the house for several hours, but this is a very thorough treatment.
10. Continue vacuuming every day for at least a week after you finish the main treatment to catch any remaining cat fleas or eggs.
Professionals can also treat outside areas but since most cats cannot be confined to a yard, your cat will still be vulnerable to fleas from neighboring yards. The best way to maintain a flea free cat is to apply topical products regularly or have the cat wear a collar that protects against cat fleas.