The chances are pretty good that you will have to deal with fleas at some time during your cat’s life. Fleas jump from place to place, from one cat to another and then possibly to you. Fleas usually prefer the hairiest places on a cat, but they can be found anywhere. Indoor only cats as well as outdoor cats get them.
Fleas can get into your house on your shoes, clothing, other pets or anything brought into the house from outside. Preventing an infestation is far easier than getting rid of one.
Flea bites cause itchiness. Your cat will start scratching her body of chewing her tail. She may start grooming more or licking herself repeatedly on the back of her legs, neck and base of her tail. You may begin to see some hair loss. The tiny black specks you find in her fur are flea dirt which is the feces of the flea. It is made of digested blood.
Most cats with fleas show no reaction, but some are allergic to the flea’s saliva and a single bite from a flea can set off a very bad skin reaction. Fleas can also carry tapeworm larvae so cats can become infected by swallowing fleas while grooming themselves.
It is important to remove fleas from your cat’s environment. Frequent vacuuming the carpets and cat’s bedding will reduce the number of flea eggs and adult fleas in your house. Putting a flea collar in the vacuum bag will ensure the fleas won’t survive. Once you have thoroughly vacuumed, including furniture, drapes and cracks and crevices in the floor dispose of the vacuum bag immediately so the swept up fleas don’t continue to mature in the house. The vacuuming will have sucked up the eggs before they can hatch. Once a week or a little more, strip off bedding, sofa covers and any other fabric items your cat has sat on or slept on and wash them in hot water.
Foggers will get rid of fleas inside the house. Get a fogger that is safe for use around cats. Follow the instructions carefully or have a professional do it. Spray your yard with an insecticide. Use the one that is least harmful to pets. You can also hire a professional to take care of it for you. Keep children and pets inside until it dried. Outside areas may require more than one application.
There are various anti-flea products available. Flea shampoos kill fleas on your cat, but do not stop new ones from getting on her. Flea collars and tags will repel fleas, but not kill them. Some cats are allergic to flea collars. Flea powders kill fleas and prevent new infestations, but they are somewhat messy. There are topical treatments that are applied directly to your cat’s skin. These will kill the fleas and continue to act for several weeks. Talk with your vet about which treatment would be best for your cat.
Getting rid of fleas can be difficult, but not impossible. Aim to have a safe and effective program that eliminates fleas from your cat and her environment and also keeps pesticides use to a minimum. It is important to detect signs of flea infestation early and start your control program as soon as possible.
To adopt a cat, visit the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter located at 1296 N. West Street in McAlester. It is open from 10:00 until 5:00 Tuesday through Friday and from 10:00 until 2:00 on Saturday. The phone number is 918-423-7903. The adoption fee for cats is $15 and $20 for a dog. All have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.