You see your cat as a companion. Fleas see them as a tasty snack. Whether your cat has been with you for years or just showed up outside your house, fleas have a way of inviting themselves inside, too. As fleas are the number one skin parasite of cats and dogs, you are your pet’s number one champion when it comes to fighting fleas.
How to tell if your cat has fleas
If you’re not sure if your cat is under attack, check for these signs:
- Excessive grooming — making fleas difficult to find
- Red bumps or scabs, specifically along neck and back
- Shaking head
- Restless behavior
- Losing fur
- Brown parasites jumping or crawling in fur
Finding fleas on your cat can be shocking. A clean home and well-cared for cat may still be subject to infestation. Even more shocking? The fleas you see are adults, representing only a small percentage of a flea infestation. The majority is hidden in immature stages, such as eggs or larvae, that you can’t see developing in and around your house.
Treat your cat
Now that you’ve identified what’s bugging your cat, you can begin to address the problem through a variety of options.
- Remove fleas with a flea comb — dip comb in a mixture of dish soap and water to kill fleas on comb
- Bathe your kitten or cat with a specially-formulated flea shampoo
- Treat your cat with a flea spray
- Use a flea preventive year-round
- Inspect and comb weekly to monitor a flea infestation on your cat
Flea preventives help discourage fleas from coming back. Effective flea prevention can be achieved through collars, topical or oral products that can last anywhere from 30 days to 8 months. Choose the prevention method that works best for you and your cat.
Ongoing vigilance combined with flea protection and prevention is the key to success. It may take a few months to help get rid of fleas and break the flea life cycle so don't get discouraged. Even continuing to see a flea or two on your cat from time to time does not mean the products aren't working.
- Check your cat at least weekly with a flea comb and look for signs of itching and scratching
- Set reminders to apply or administer treatment and prevention products according to product labels.
- Consider where and with whom your cat interacts to determine the risk of flea infestation
Treat all your pets
More cats? Family dog? If one pet has fleas, they may all have fleas. Apply preventives to every pet in your home – both indoor and outdoor pets – to help keep an infestation from spreading and reduce the risk of future flea infestations.
Treat your environment
Fleas don’t have set territories and aren’t confined to your cat. Flea eggs roll off your pet and scatter around your home and yard. Adult fleas are only a small portion of a flea infestation, so a few extra steps to treat your home and yard can further help reduce the risk of additional flea infestations.
Fleas are small, but mighty. They can reproduce quickly and easily hop on other house pets or wildlife. Help your cat by keeping a watchful eye for reinfestation and remember to regularly use a flea preventive year-round.