Fleas in cats are one of the fastest growing causes of skin conditions in cats worldwide, as well as one of the most frustrating conditions to treat.
For literally millions of owners, this tiny insect is an ever relentless enemy that can be both frustrating as well as very dangerous to some cats.
There is a lot of misconception about fleas, the forms of treatments, as well as how to control fleas. But perhaps the biggest misconception surrounds flea collars for cats.
They are not only virtually useless in controlling fleas; they can also be very dangerous to cats as they can cause allergic reactions that can be more serious than the reaction from flea infestation.
When dealing with fleas in cats, it is very helpful to understand what a flea actually is, what it does to your cat, and the the symptoms to watch for.
It also helps to then how to treat this condition very effectively and not waste money on useless flea collars.
Flea collars can be very effective for a dog, but your cat is not a dog.
Fleas in cats and effectively treating them are better understood if you have a full knowledge of exactly what they are.
Fleas are small round wingless insects that will utilize their mouths to pierce your cats skin and then siphon their blood.
But contrary to a lot of misconception, they do not fly; they are wingless.
Some cats can be bitten by fleas and never show any real symptoms, while other can have reactions that will range from very mild to severe. A severe reaction is referred to as flea allergy dermatitis.
The life cycle of a flea has four stages. They start with hatching eggs than develops into larva, than into pupa, and then they mature into adult fleas.
Fleas will generally infect your cat not by flying, but instead lay their eggs directly on a host; in this case, your cat.
They can also very easily fall off of your cat onto their immediate surroundings such as their bedding, or any part of your yard. Or they may simply lay eggs in these same places.
A female will lay up to several hundred eggs during their lifetime, and the larger the number of fleas that survive the process and then attack your cat, the worse the reactions will be.
The larva itself survives by ingesting the dried blood of your cat, the dander, or any other type of organic matter that may be nearby.
However, it is extremely important to understand that the immediate source of fleas in cats is not your cat itself, but instead the pupa.
Once a flea reaches this stage, they will jump up on your cat from their environment.
Fleas in cats will develop much faster in warm and humid environments, but in this pupae stage they can actually remain dormant for several months.
However, if all the conditions are just right, they can complete their cycle in just a few short weeks.
If you live in an environment that is warm and humid, they can literally survive almost nonstop.
When your cat is first infected with fleas, they will begin to itch, chew, and lick. All three will depend on how many fleas have affected your cat.
If they demonstrate any of these symptoms, you should immediately check your cat for what is referred to as flea dirt.
Flea dirt will closely resemble pepper as it will be very small black specks that will be discharging for your cat’s skin.
However, if your cat is hypersensitive to flea saliva, there will be an entirely new set of symptoms.
The first sign that your cat is hypersensitive will be a small hive that develops on the site of the fleabite.
It may heal, or it will develop into small red bumps that will eventually become crusty.
If this does occur, the next symptoms that you will see are called hot spots, which can be very dangerous.
They are the result of your cat excessively scratching and then chewing until that area become raw, hairless, and weeping serum occurs.
This is is the actual hot spot.
This can also develop into the next set of symptoms which is scaling of the skin that can very easily become infected.
It can also cause pigmentation of the skin or color changes.
In almost every case, these symptoms will occur on your cat’s lower back, the base of their tail, abdomen, flanks, or their neck.
However, if it is severe enough, it may encompass their entire body.
There is one other factor to watch for with fleas in cats. When this flea dirt becomes moist at all, it will no longer look like ground pepper.
It will instead turn reddish brown as it now contains particles of your cats blood.
In the battle of fleas in cats, there are several new treatments that are very effective.
However, it is important to remember that fleas live the vast majority of their life cycle in the environment, not on your cat.
For this reason, the first form of treatment should be their environment.
If your cat becomes infested, the first step in treatment should be flea foggers or sprays.
These should be used at least twice a week for a few weeks initially, and then at least once every two months.
Once sprayed, the fleas biggest enemy is not another chemical, but instead your everyday vacuum cleaner.
When you do vacuum, make extra efforts to include every corner, every crack that you can see, as this is their main fermenting territory.
But there is also one more step that if not taken, may make the entire process fruitless.
Once completed, spread flea power almost in excess and then vacuum that up immediately. Or, discard the bag as soon as you are finished.
This puts the final killer thrust on fleas.
Fleas in cats can be very difficult, time consuming, and expensive in cases where the infestation has become severe, but it can be won.
There are newer forms of drugs called insect growth regulators that help to interrupt the development process by killing the eggs.
They do not kill adult fleas, but they drastically reduce the number of fleas.
They are available in both sprays and collars, but the spray is much more effective.
Spot on and oral treatments zero in directly on the adult flea and work very rapidly. Spot-on is applied directly to your cat’s skin, usually between their shoulders.
This includes the product Frontline, Advantage, and Revolution.
But there is a very new treatment called Capstar that starts to kill fleas with minutes it is so effective. All are these are much more effective and much safer for your cat than flea collars.
Fleas in cats can be very dangerous, especially if the population is intense.
Once they have been spotted, attacking the environment as well as defending your cat’s body will work in even the most severe cases.
But do not waste your money on flea collars, as they are both ineffective and dangerous to your cat.