Help! My cat has fleas, what can I do? This is not a question you want to be asking, but unfortunately, it is often the case for many cat owners. Fleas can be very common in animals; they can breed rapidly, with it being said that female fleas have the ability to lay over 2,000 eggs in just three months! This means that if your cat has fleas or if you notice the sign of fleas or their eggs, you need to get into action to get rid of them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
What are fleas?
A type of parasite, fleas attach themselves to pets skin and survive by consuming minuscule amounts of their blood. This may sound like something straight out of a dracula movie, but fleas are essentially blood-eating pests. So what do fleas look like? They look like a type of small wingless insect that are usually red-brown close up but often appear as black specks from far away. Although they don’t have wings, they can jump a long way, making it easy for them to latch onto your cat wherever they are.
Where do cat fleas come from?
Cats normally pick up fleas either from generally being outside or from other animals that already have them. Fleas love shady and moist areas, so if your cat is often found in places like these, they can have a high chance of catching them. If they also spend a lot of time around pets that have fleas, around stray cats or in areas that animals such as foxes and rodents live, this can also significantly increase their chances of having fleas themselves.
Signs of fleas in cats
The first, and probably easiest, way to tell if your cat has fleas is to have a look. If there are a lot of them, you may see them without even touching your cat but usually, you will be able to see small black dots on their skin or within their fur. Cat flea bites can also be a big tell-tale sign of fleas on cats; they usually appear as small raised red dots, but if your cat has an allergy, they can appear a lot more red and inflamed. You may also be able to tell if your cat has fleas if they suddenly start itching a lot as the bump can become irritable.
How to get rid of fleas on cats
If you discover your cat has fleas, you need to act fast to get rid of them. Finding out how to treat fleas on cats can be a confusing process, but there are many options you can try before resorting to an expensive visit to the vets. The first thing you need to do is find out where the fleas are and if they are isolated to your cat's skin. Fleas can live in a number of places around the house, with hotspots being your cat's bedding or areas they like to hang out in. You also need to make sure that the fleas you have seen are alone; they can reproduce at a rapid rate and it can be just as much hassle getting rid of flea eggs on cats as it is the adult parasites. This is why cleaning any areas you think they could be lingering and vacuuming the floor thoroughly is of utmost importance to stop them from spreading or coming back.
What are the best flea treatments for cats?
Using a flea comb
Flea combs can be used to brush through your cat's fur, and thanks to their very finely spaced teeth, it makes it easy to trap and remove unwanted fleas. To use a flea comb, simply brush it through your pet's fur, making sure you are very thorough. After every stroke, make sure to take a look at the comb and see if you have dislodged any fleas. If you have, make sure to dispose of them and wash the comb in clean soapy water.
Flea shampoo for cats
Unlike your regular cat shampoo, flea shampoos are specially formulated to kill fleas on contact. They are relatively easy to use as all you need to do is simply wash your cat with them in the same way as you would give them a normal bath. Make sure to use lukewarm water and that you thoroughly massage every part of your cat to get rid of any lingering parasites. Afterwards, you can follow up with a flea comb to make sure no fleas, larvae or eggs have been left behind.
Using a flea spray for cats
A flea spray, as the name suggests, is something that you can spray onto your cat, or items such as their bedding, to kill any fleas in the area. They have cat-safe formulations that are harmless to cats but can be deadly to fleas. These are also great to use as a preventative measure to make sure no fleas return or set up shop in your house.
Cat flea collars
A very popular choice for getting rid of fleas in cats, these collars work by emitting a gas that repels or kills the fleas, but without harming the cat. Traditional flea collars can generally only kill fleas around the neck area, but modern advances mean that new cat flea collars can release a substance that harmlessly dissolves into the fatty layers of the cat's skin to kill fleas all over their body. These may need a vets prescription though, so is a choice that needs to be considered first.
Spot-on flea treatments
These are a type of liquid that is applied to the back of a cat in spots, generally the nape of their neck, between the shoulder blades and down their back. The liquid then harmlessly seeps into the cat's skin and kills any fleas living on their body. These spot-on treatments are usually quick and easy to apply and can be used alongside the other options such as flea shampoos and combs.
If you are unsure which option to choose from, or you want to try something at home first before attempting any of these, you can try a natural flea remedy for cats. These can be great if you spot a flea and want to deal with it straight away but it’s too late to go to the shops or if you’re on a bit of a budget.
One of the most popular natural flea treatment for cats is to make an apple cider vinegar spray. Fleas don’t like the smell of vinegar, and apple cider vinegar can be a great choice for cats as it won’t disturb their internal Ph levels or cause irritation. Simply fill a spray bottle with some apple cider vinegar and carefully spray onto your cat's fur (avoiding their eyes, ears and mouth). You can also try mixing it with a mild cat shampoo and bathing them in it.
Another popular home flea remedy for cats is to create a soapy water flea trap. These pesky parasites aren’t very smart and are attracted to light, so in the evening try placing a shallow dish full of soapy water under a night light. That way, when they hop towards the light source they will get trapped in the dish. Check the homemade trap every morning until your flea problem has been solved.
So what is the best way to get rid of fleas on cats?
This may seem like a simple question, but the answer isn’t so straightforward. It all depends on the cat, the number of fleas, the time you have to deal with it and how bad the problem is. To get rid of fleas on your cat for good, we recommend trying out a number of different techniques until you find one that works for you and your cat. You may find it works best to combine two or more, such as using a spot-on treatment, shampoo and comb in order to be meticulous when it comes to getting rid of your cat fleas. If you think the problem is getting out of hand though, it may be best to visit your vet and get the advice.
The best way to deal with fleas in general though is to take preventative measures to stop your cat from getting them in the first place. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but you can make sure to avoid any known pets that have them, keep them away from flea hot spots and make sure to keep them well groomed and cleaned so any fleas can be spotted immediately and dealt with.