In a perfect world, our cats will be happy and healthy their whole lives. But the truth in caring for living creatures is that they get sick and need a check-up from time to time.
The most significant source of feline fleas is newly emerged fleas from flea pupae in your yard or even the house.
Even though fleas are present in your home, you may not see them. Homes with carpets and central heating are the ideal environments for the year-round growth of fleas. The highest number of flea eggs, larvae, and pupae will be located in areas of the home where your furry friend spends most of its time, such as its beds and furnishings.
The eggs look like tiny white specks the size of dust particles, while the larvae, which are somewhat more prominent, with dark heads and lighter bodies, move deep down in carpets, furniture, or fractures in floors away from the light.
The Life Cycle of Fleas
Eggs: Fleas lay eggs on the host animal, where the whole cycle begins. Other eggs fall into the environment like carpets, your pet's bed, or your bed.
Larva: The larva "hatchlings" consume the feces left by the adult fleas. A larva continues to grow anywhere from a week to 6 to 7 months. They are often in the environment rather than in your pets.
Pupa: Similar to a butterfly, the larvae will make a cocoon for itself, where it continues to develop into the adult flea. It can take a year for a flea to emerge from pupae.
Adult: The emerging adult feeds upon your cat's other fleas and continues the life cycle. This is why flea control is so important.
Common Feline Illness Lugged by Fleas
As if the itch and the sting weren't enough, fleas also transfer other health conditions which can have a more harmful impact on your cat's health.
Some cats develop an allergy to flea infestations. Flea-sensitive cats groom or scratch excessively after being struck by a single flea and usually develop skin infections secondary to this trauma.
Fleas problems can also trigger anemia from blood loss, which can sometimes be deadly, especially in kittens. Pale gums are a possible sign of anemia in kittens and an indicator that immediate vet attention is needed. Other illnesses that fleas can cause are:
Haemobartonellosis (Mycoplasma Haemofelis): Fleas can additionally be vectors for a parasite called Mycoplasma haemofelis. This bacterium can cause fever, anemia, and other severe ailments. Haemobartonellosis is detected by laboratory tests and treated with antibiotics and blood transfusions in some extreme cases.
Tapeworms: Fleas likewise bring a parasite called the tapeworm, commonly found in cats that have been exposed to fleas.
How to Do Away With Fleas on Your Cat
Fleas are not always noticeable on felines; as a matter of fact, cats are notorious for "hiding" that they have fleas. If you ever see fleas on your cat, they usually come as a surprise: small, fast creatures that scoot in your cat's fur. Occasionally it causes a light itch. Other times, it can result in severe hair loss and irritation.
This can be a challenging task and calls for a three-pronged method. Fleas need to be eliminated from:
- Your cat;
- Any other cats and pets that you have at home;
- Your house and the lawn.
Even this method might not yield 100% control because you can not control some resources of fleas such as other people's pets, feral cats in the neighborhood, or other properties surrounding your home.
How Do I Treat My Cat?
Your first work will be to remove fleas from your cat by brushing and bathing. As soon as the mass of the problems is gone, you can protect against other flea invasions by using vet-recommended topical flea control products. Remember: NEVER use dog flea products on a cat. Dogs and cats have different physiology and size, so using dog products may cause other illnesses in cats.
Most cats do not like baths, so do not force your cat as the most crucial step. Bathing your cat with mild hair shampoo or Dawn soap can kill live fleas on it. For this objective, it is NOT required to use a "flea" hair shampoo or a "flea dip." A mild cat or baby hair shampoo will do the job done handsomely. Keep in mind flea baths, and shampoos alone are not nearly enough to do away with a flea problem.
A flea control program is customized based on your cat's lifestyle, other pets in the house, and your family's routine. Your vet is the most influential person to guide you about efficient and flea control products that you can use.
Topical Flea Prevention Products as Suggested by Your Veterinarian
Most topical cat flea control products work by targeting the nerve receptors of the flea. They are typically applied to the cat's skin at the back of the neck, where the product is slowly released. Many topical products are once-a-month applications. To do away with a flea problem, you need to have your feline on flea prevention minimum for 3 to 4 months. However, many veterinarians say that year-round prevention is necessary, especially if the cat has had fleas once.
An instance of some topical flea products is below. Always pick one suggested by your vet and make sure your feline is within the appropriate weight array and that it is NOT the pet dog variation of these items. Adhere to the directions for your age/size of the feline. Some everyday topical flea control products are the following:
Frontline: Its active ingredient is fipronil to eliminate fleas and ticks. This synthetic ingredient might trigger momentary sensitivity in the application area.
Revolution: Its cornerstone ingredient is selamectin, which eliminates fleas, some ticks, and ear mites. It also protects against heartworm. Revolution stays in the bloodstream; therefore must not be used on kittens under six weeks.
I don't see fleas on my cat, but my vet suggested flea control. What's up with that?
Among the most common causes of allergic skin disease in cats is flea allergy dermatitis. If the cat's skin improves with flea control treatment, flea allergic reaction is the cause. To eliminate this probability, your vet may suggest rigorous flea control even though you see no fleas in the cat.
Fleas are more evident if there is already an infestation. It can be tough to see them if they are present in smaller numbers. Fleas move fast! Try looking at a cat's stomach, around the tail base, as well as around the neck.
You may find it hard to see adult fleas, but you can see flea dirt. This is the fecal matter from the flea, which contains partly absorbed blood and good evidence of flea presence. Flea dirt is seen as tiny black specks. The flea dirt dissolves when put on moist, white surfaces (like a wet paper towel), leaving a reddish-brown stain. Cats are very effective groomers, and getting rid of debris from their coats is a breeze. You may find flea dirt in the cat's bed linens even when you cannot find fleas in your cat.
My cat has had treatments, but the infestation persists. Is there a super flea?
There is no proof that fleas have or develop resistance to the insecticide. Once-a-month topical flea preventives contain a sterilizing agent or IGR and the adulticide, an effective flea control product. The apparent treatment failure often arises from an improper application, poor house treatment, or exposure to other infested pets or environments. Consider treatings cars, storage sheds, and any outside sleeping spots. Your cat may be going inside other people's homes. You can solve many of these troubles by using a reliable product with residual effects on the cat and cleaning the house thoroughly.
Eliminating Fleas and Their Eggs From the Home
Eliminating fleas and their eggs from your home should be an ongoing program while the flea removal treatment kills the live fleas in your cat.
- Wash all bed linens extensively. While the bed is free from covers, vacuum the mattress, specifically in the crevices, where eggs might be hiding.
- Vacuum carpets and rugs day-to-day and throw away the used vacuum bags.
- Steam-cleaning carpets will kill all the flea eggs the vacuum cleaner might have missed.
- Generally, you do not need flea or pest control in the home. We suggest working with a specialist and asking them to use cat-friendly items if you do. Flea treatments from the house itself are secondary to cleaning the home well and doing reliable flea prevention consistently throughout the year.
If you have observed that your cat is sick, please call your veterinarian immediately. For health-related questions, constantly consult your vet, as they know your pet's health background and can make the best recommendations for your cat.
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