It used to be that fleas were more of a seasonal problem, however now we all mostly live in central heated homes, fleas can be an issue all year round. They can live in carpets and soft furnishings for a long time, even without an animal to feed off, so they are the toughest pest around!
Fleas are a lot more common than you might think, and if your cat does have them, don’t be embarrassed. It doesn’t mean that your house is dirty or that your pet is neglected. There are many treatments that will easily clear your pet and home of this nuisance.
Signs that your cat has fleas:
• Excessive grooming and/or scratching
• You may see the dark insects on your pet
• Signs of flea dirt on their skin and on their bedding (or, more likely, wherever they deign to sleep!)
• Do you and your family have any unaccounted for bites?
You can buy flea treatments direct from your vet or from a reputable retailer. Swell Pets have a range of flea collars and treatments to help. It’s a good idea to treat your pet once a month to keep fleas at bay.
Excessive flea infestations can cause health problems as they feed on blood, leaving animals, especially kittens or more frail pets, weak and lethargic. Flea larvae can also contain tapeworm eggs, so if your pet ingests this whilst grooming, he can become very ill. Regular worming is vital too.
It’s important to only use flea treatments intended for cats, as treatments intended for dogs can be toxic and even lethal to cats.
Be warned! Cats seem to have an inherent instinct that tells them you are planning something. You will find yourself adopting an oddly casual manner as you open the packaging.
When you have a safe, comfortable hold of your pet, part the hair just above his shoulder blades. This is the best place, as he can’t lick off the treatment easily. Apply the medicine to his skin, some cats are fine with this, however many are none too pleased and will struggle to escape. Try to ensure all of the dose is administered for the full effect.
It’s a good idea to keep him in until the treatment has fully dried and in case of any (rare) reactions. The treatment works by killing any fleas your cat has and any that land on him thereafter. You can use a flea comb too to remove any dead fleas and eggs.
Use another home treatment to clear carpets. These are available at most supermarkets or online retailers. Many are sprinkled on like carpet freshener and vacuumed off after an hour or so. Also, wash any bedding or cushions, on the highest temperature for the fabric, to rid it of any eggs or fleas.
It’s worth treating your carpets regularly to rid it of any fleas or eggs that may remain. Regular vacuuming of sofas and carpets, especially around skirting boards is also really helpful. Empty the canister or change the vacuum cleaner bag too, as fleas are the hardiest species and will continue to live in there!
If the problem is getting out of hand, see your vet for advice. Specialist companies can treat your home for a fee. This will mean you have to remove all people and pets while it takes effect, usually a few hours. Your local council should have more information.