CAT / health & care
How to Get Rid of Cat Fleas and Keep Them Away
Fleas are unwelcome critters that love to make homes on our pets and feed on their blood. In addition to that, these pesky insects can cause many problems for our cats. Anyone with a kitty must understand how fleas show up, how to get rid of them and how to prevent them from coming back in the future. This can save your pet from a ton of discomfort and flea-related issues.
How to Tell If Your Cat Has Fleas
First things first, how can you tell if your cat has fleas? Being able to check your cat for signs of fleas can help you catch them early before they get too bad. Early detection of fleas can prevent your cat from dealing with some of those really tough problems like itchy skin, tapeworms, and anemia that fleas can cause. Common signs of fleas include:
Most pets itch their skin to some degree. The difference between a cat with fleas and a cat without fleas is the amount of time they spend itching and the intensity of their itching. Will your cat not quit scratching or picking at their skin? Then this could be a sign that they have unwanted fleas on their body.
Fleas love our pets because they are a tasty treat to them. They suck on your cat’s blood until their bellies are full. Blood loss and an increase in itching can lead to patchy fur or hair loss around their body.
An easy visual sign of fleas is flea dirt (a euphemism for their feces). Flea dirt looks like tiny peppery flakes on a cat’s fur. If you start to notice these little black specks, it might be a sign that your cat has fleas.
Cats can sometimes have an allergic response to a flea’s saliva called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) which can cause redness and irritation to their skin.
How to Get Rid of Fleas
Talk to Your Vet
If your cat is showing signs of fleas, you should schedule an appointment with your vet. They are the best source of information about getting rid of them. They can evaluate your pet for any flea-related problems and inform you on how to help them get better. Always talk to your vet before giving your pet any cat flea prevention products.
Use Cat Flea Products
There are tons of cat products available to help treat fleas. Some of these products include:
Topical Flea Products
Some cat flea products help kill fleas, and some help repel fleas. Some of these products can help kill fleas on your cat’s body and prevent any more from showing up while you work to get rid of them.
Give Your Cat a Bath
Even though your cats are grooming experts, they need help when it comes to getting rid of fleas. A bath with warm water and cat-safe soaps, like flea shampoos, can help kill and remove fleas from your cat’s body.
Use a Flea Comb
Flea combs are an excellent tool for removing fleas from your cat's fur. If you have a fluffy cat, they can be great from getting fleas out of their undercoat. While this tool is helpful, it won’t remove every single flea.They are also great for detecting fleas on your cat if you are unsure if they have them.
Treat Your Home and Yard
Fleas don’t just stay on pets. They cling anywhere they can until they find their next thing to snack on. This means they hang out in your yard and even around your house if they make their way indoors. Use cat flea yard treatment or cat flea home sprays to get rid of any hiding around. Vacuuming your home regularly can also help get rid of them.
Flea Medications/Medicated Products
There are both prescription and over-the-counter medications that aim to help treat cats with fleas, such as flea topicals, flea chewables, and flea collars. Flea topicals are liquid medications and are applied by hand on the cat's skin where they can’t lick it off. Flea chewables are chewable medications and are given to cats by their owners. A chewable flea treatment typically lasts for as long as the cat is taking the medication. Flea collars work as a flea repellent, so as long as your cat is wearing the collar, fleas will be discouraged from coming nearby. Flea collars commonly provide up to six months of protection before needing to be replaced.
How to Prevent Your Cat From Getting Fleas in The Future
An important thing to remember is that the best way to prepare for flea infestations is to understand the weather and seasonal conditions that support them. Typically, flea infestations happen during wet and warmer seasons and they are less likely to occur during colder months. In warmer climates, they are a year-round issue.
Use Flea Prevention Products
The products that were mentioned earlier such as flea combs, sprays, collars, topicals, and chewables can also be great for flea prevention. They can create a protective barrier around your cat that can either repel fleas or kill any that make their way onto your cat. Never treat your cat with anti-flea products made for dogs; the ingredients are different and can be fatal to cats.
It is important to note that pet parents should never use flea medallions (treated disks that hang off a pet’s regular collar). They can dip into the water dish when your pet drinks, adding chemicals to the water.
Always talk to your vet about using more than one product on your cat at a time. The chemicals in different products don’t always mix and may be harmful to your kitty. Don’t use flea shampoo or other chemical treatments on kittens because the strong ingredients may harm them. Only use products labled safe for kittens based on their age and/or weight.
Talk to Your Veterinarian
Your vet is also the best person to talk to about preventing fleas in the future. They can explain all the best ways to keep your cat safe from fleas.
Keep Your Cat Indoors
Cats are more likely to get fleas if they spend time outdoors. They can pick them up in the yard or from other animals. It is best to keep your cat inside if you really want to protect them from fleas. While there is still a chance they can get them, it is much less likely.
Treat Every Pet in Your Home
If one of your pets gets fleas, then the others are at risk. If fleas can’t survive on one pet, they will find another. Treat every pet in your home, not just those who spend time outside or those who are currently dealing with fleas, to make sure they really stay away.
Keep Your Eye Out For Signs
Continue to check your cats for fleas. Catching them early can save your pet from a ton of discomfort. If you think your cat could have fleas, then contact your vet for help.
Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.