Cat scratching himself

Bogged Down with Bugs: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats

Your cat is itching, you check their fur, and what you find are little creatures scurrying about. There is absolutely nothing more disgusting than discovering this in your furry friend. Once you spot fleas, you probably want to wage war, but keep calm. Controlling fleas is relatively easy.

Does Your Cat Have Fleas?

Ctenocephalides felis is the most common type of flea that feeds off of cats, dogs, and humans. The best way to see if your cat has fleas is by using a flea comb. If you see tiny black dots emerge on the comb, then you have fleas. This is what some call ‘flea dirt.’

What the flea dirt really is is the excrement a flea leaves. Gross! When you smash flea dirt onto a damp paper towel it will turn red, and that’s because your cat’s blood is in there. This just gets more and more disgusting.

Fleas Cause Disease

Bogged Down with Bugs: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats

Looking for a good reason to get rid of the fleas? The truth is that fleas can cause diseases in your cat, and they transmit other conditions that have a terrible effect on your cat’s health. If Snowball is itching a lot, then be sure to take note of these:

Anemia

When you don’t control your cat’s fleas, it can lead to anemia from blood loss. This condition can be fatal, especially in kittens. When your cat has pale gums it’s a serious red flag. Get the cat’s gums routinely checked to make sure that all is well.

Tapeworms

Often, where there are fleas, there are also tapeworms. For this reason, it’s incredibly important that you get your kitty checked for worms on a consistent basis.

Haemobartonellosis

Don’t even try to pronounce haemobartonellosis. This is a more serious form of anemia that is caused by a microorganism that the flea carries. This can only be diagnosed in a laboratory, but if your cat shows to be positive, it can be treated with antibiotics and blood transfusions.

Let’s Talk About Fleas

Bogged Down with Bugs: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats

Okay, maybe you don’t want to hear all of this, but it will help you to understand how and why fleas infest your cat. The cycle of a flea’s life is kind of like a butterfly, but much less pretty. In fact, the adult flea is absolutely a menace to society.

  • Eggs: Fleas use animals to lay their eggs. Aren’t they deplorable? The entire cycle of a flea’s life may take place on a host animal. Some eggs fall off into the environment, and that includes your carpet, pet bed, or even your own damn bed. Sorry.
  • Larvae: Hatchlings feed off of the feces left by the adult flea, and then they continue to develop for a week. Again, another reason to detest fleas.
  • Pupae: The flea larvae will spin a cocoon for itself, and this is when it evolves into an adult flea.
  • Adult: Once an adult, the flea will continue the life cycle and produce more fleas. We hate them for doing that.

Getting Rid of Fleas

So now that we know the gruesome details, it’s time to get rid of those fleas. The first thing that you can do is regularly comb and bathe your cat. Once the stupid little suckers are gone, you can prevent further infestation by using a topical product that is designed to control fleas.

Combing

Use a flea comb and carefully comb the cat’s entire body. Keep a jar of bleach handy to empty the fleas into. They will die very quickly and you will smile.

Bathing

Although cats hate baths, it’s necessary. This will help to get rid of the remaining fleas. Use a flea shampoo or flea dip for more success. You can also use a mild baby shampoo to get the job done.

Topical Flea Control Products

Flea control products work by affecting the nerve receptors of the flea, thus killing them. These are applied to the cat’s skin at the back of the neck, where they get into the hair follicles and do their job. The product is slowly released, and therefore it only needs a once-a-month application.

Never use products on cats that are labeled for dogs. Dogs and cats are very different in size and structure, so using the wrong product may be harmful. Some products that aren’t as favorable are sprays, powders, and collars. Make sure that, if you use these products, the ingredients are safe.

When you do use topical products, be sure to read the label to ensure that it’s the right formulation for your cat’s age and size.

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Removing Fleas From Your Home

Cat using a wooden chair to scratch an itch

Now that you have the fleas off of your cat, they still may be lingering in your home. Continue to clean your home properly as you rid your cat of fleas.

  • Wash Bedding: Wash the bedding thoroughly and vacuum the mattress. Eggs like to hide in the crevices.
  • Vacuum Carpeting: Vacuum your carpet daily and be sure to trash the vacuum bag.
  • Steam-Clean the Carpet: When you steam-clean the carpeting, it kills the remaining eggs that the vacuum doesn’t get.
  • House Insect Bomb: You may need to use a whole house insect bomb to target the fleas. During this process, remove all food dishes and live animals. You can hire a professional to do this, but make sure they use a cat-safe product. A professional can treat both the interior and the exterior of your home.

When you follow this flea-control program, you will soon see that fleas are a distant memory. Your cats will thank you, your spouse will thank you, and even the neighbors will thank you. Fleas are no good for anyone.

Killing Fleas Naturally

If you’re looking for a more natural approach to killing fleas, then we have some suggestions that improve the health of your home environment. Although strong products get the job done faster, there are often harmful substances in these products that are no good for your cat, or for you.

Keep Your Cat Inside

Indoor cats are much less likely to get fleas. Limit your cat’s exposure to the outdoors, and remove your shoes before you head indoors. This is a great way of stopping the fleas from getting inside your house. But take note, if you have dogs in your house, this is going to make keeping the fleas at bay even more of a problem.

Vacuuming

We already mentioned that vacuuming is a great way to get the fleas out of your house, but be sure to also vacuum the places where your cat likes to hang out the most. Also, wash the kitty bed and vacuum it thoroughly. Vacuuming is a great way to clear the fleas without using harsh products.

Healthy Wash

Bogged Down with Bugs: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats

A good bath will help to rid your cat of fleas, but sometimes strong shampoos aren’t the best answer. Consider using natural oils such as lavender, cedar, citrus, and eucalyptus. You can even make a diluted solution of apple cider vinegar to help to remove the fleas. Please note that in high concentrations, essential oils can be toxic. For this reason, it’s important to dilute it to 5% before applying any of these products. Also, ask your vet before trying.

De-Flea Your Yard

If you sense that fleas are coming in from the outside, treat your yard to keep them at bay. Clear dust and debris on a regular basis, and even plant fragrant herbs that repel fleas. Good options include fennel and lavender. Food-grade diatomaceous earth can be added to your soil in order to kill flea eggs without using chemicals.

Although getting rid of fleas isn’t so hard, it does take a lot of persistence. No matter what method you choose, when you stay the course, you will find that those fleas will be gone in no time. Talk with your vet about the best method for removing fleas in terms of your particular kind of cat.

Fun Facts About Fleas

Okay, fleas are absolutely disgusting, but we don’t want to leave you on a sad note. Let’s explore some really fun facts about fleas, so that you don’t hate them as much as you do in this moment. Or perhaps, you may hate them even more.

  • Fleas can jump 30,000 times without stopping. Talk about some serious legwork.
  • Fleas can pull 160,000 times their own weight. They may be compact in size, but those little bodies pack a serious punch.
  • Fleas are pretty much blind. Not only that, but they don’t have ears either.
  • The beaver flea is the world’s biggest flea. It can reach up to 11mm in length. Trust us, you don’t want to come in contact with a beaver flea.
  • Fleas hate light, and that’s why you’ll find their larvae in the cracks and crevices of your home.
  • A jumping flea exceeds the acceleration of a space shuttle. In fact, they move 50 times faster!
  • One flea can lay up to 1,500 eggs in its lifetime. Now you can see why it’s nearly impossible to make fleas go extinct, even though that is what we’d prefer.
  • The flea life cycle varies from 14 days to 12 months.
  • Flea circuses originated in England in the 16th century. We bet you were just dying to know that.
  • Female fleas are always larger than male fleas
  • What do you call a group of fleas? A swarm.
  • Fleas can freeze, and then come back to life.

Product data was last updated on 2019-09-15.

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