Does My Cat Have Fleas?

Fleas are no fun. That is especially true if they start infesting your home. Cats can get fleas just like dogs despite their constant grooming. The secret to controlling fleas is to get a jump start on them the moment your pet has them. 

Our boy Coco 4
Our boy Coco 4

Does my cat have fleas? There are some sure-tell signs that your feline friend is becoming a transport and feeding ground for fleas. Signs include scratching and chewing places on their body, dark specs when you comb them, fleas or the dark specs on their bedding or other places they lay, and raw spots on your pet from allergies.

Fleas Can Be Hard to Spot

A cat owner may not notice fleas right away because the cat’s fur is so thick or maybe long and fleas are so small. These insects burrow into an animal’s skin so which makes them harder to find. Scratching is a strong indicator there are fleas.

Even so, you need to check your cat once a month even if you have them on flea protection. There are a couple of ways to do that. Use a flea comb to gently run through your cat’s fur. Shake fur onto a damp white tissue. 

Fleas will show up as tiny dark specs, called “flea dirt.” These are flea feces. The presence of feces means there are fleas. 

A full inspection of your cat will be needed if you find flea dirt. You will need to back-pet your cat’s fur to get a look at the skin. Look for red, bloody areas or places where there is a lot of flea dirt. 

Two places where fleas frequently hide are the animal’s “armpits,” the inside where the legs join the body, and the groin. Both places are warm and don’t get a lot of visibility. Also, look in your cat’s ears. Fleas also seem to lead to mites. 

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Fleas are Dangerous

Fleas are more than just annoying pests. They can hurt a cat medically. The most common problem is allergies. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) leads to hair loss around the tail, inner thighs, and belly along with crusty skin. It can also lead to skin infections. 

Your cat can also develop anemia from all the flea bites and swallowing fleas can lead to tapeworms in your cat. A tapeworm infection causes intestinal issues and abdominal pain. Fleas are also linked to Bartonella, which is called cat-scratch disease when people get it. 

Are Fleas In Your Home?

You will need to check your cat’s favorite areas to see if fleas have spread. Those who sleep with their cat will need to remove all bedding, wash it and check the mattress. 

Just because fleas aren’t landing on you doesn’t mean they aren’t in your home. Fleas are attracted to your pet so they may not try to move to you or other family members. However, it can be trouble for the whole family when they start multiplying as they will need extra food supplies. 

You can check your house by setting a “light trap.” Mix a small bowl of water with dishwashing soap and put it near a nightlight on the floor before turning in for the night. Fleas are attracted to light and end up in the bowl. That will tell you what your infestation situation is. 

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How to Rid Your Cat of Fleas?

The first order of business is to get your cat clear of fleas. Comb your cat thoroughly and then bath it with a topical flea control product for cats. Vet experts warn to never use a dog flea product in a cat bath because it will make your kitty extremely sick. 

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You can use Dawn soap or Johnson’s Baby Shampoo as both will kill fleas. 

Cats need a topical flea prevention product to keep them protected. These work by damaging the flea’s nerve receptors and are easily applied to the back of the neck. Topicals are usually given once a month and it will take three or four months to get a flea problem under control. 

Most vets recommend year-round protection. You can ask your vet which one is best for your cat. Doses are given according to size so it’s important to discuss your options. 

Those with multiple pets will also need to get all of them on flea protection even if you don’t suspect they have fleas. One animal with fleas can easily lead to a full-blown infestation. 

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Rid Your Home of Fleas

You will also need to take some extra time to clean your home to prevent fleas from hatching. Wash all animal bedding in a hot wash cycle. Clean and mop floors and wipe down areas where your cat perches or naps. You should vacuum and even steam clean your carpets. 

Vacuum crevices in mattresses and couches as fleas love to hide in seams.

Those with flea issues in the home will need to go to serious battle tactics like spraying chemicals to kill them on furniture and flea bombs to kill adults, larvae, and eggs. Be sure to follow directions and keep all family members and pets out of the home when you use these products.

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FAQs

How long do fleas live?

Fleas live more than a year with the first year mostly spent as larvae. Larvae then will develop a cocoon where it eventually comes out as an adult flea. Time from egg to adult can happen in a few weeks or it could take up to a year. 

How many eggs can a flea lay?

A flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs during its life.

Can an indoor cat get fleas?

Yes, cats restricted to indoors can get fleas from being around other animals or any person who also has pets. They can also pick up a flea if they happen to go outside for any length of time, even if they are in a protected cat house. 

What kills fleas instantly?

It may surprise people to know that dish soap can kill fleas immediately while still being gentle for your cat. The soap, even when diluted in water, destroys the exoskeleton on the flea and kills them with a few minutes. 

Do fleas live in cat litter?

Yes, fleas love places like a cat litter box because it is a more humid environment. That makes it important to clean it regularly and completely change the litter once a week.

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