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Looking After Your My cat has fleas: what should I do?

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My cat has fleas: what should I do?

Over the last few weeks you’ve noticed that your cat’s constantly grooming itself and it’s started to develop bald patches over the base of its tail.  The presence of small scabby areas all over the body of your cat look unsightly and you think your cat is generally itchy. When you take a closer look, however, you notice that there are creepy crawlies moving amongst the fur. And it hits you – your cat’s got fleas.

It’s also likely that your cat’s showing an allergic reaction to fleabites if there is significant hair loss and lots of crusts present. Getting a veterinary surgeon to examine your cat, just in case your cat needs any anti-inflammatory or antibiotic medication, is essential. 

If you notice that your cat has fleas but without flea allergic dermatitis (the scabby areas caused by an allergic reaction), then its something you can start to tackle on your own if you adopt a systematic and logical approach. 

Firstly, you need to select an effective flea treatment. There’s a wide range of products available on the market and many work in different ways, which can become confusing when searching for an end to your problems. Whichever product you select, make sure it is a veterinary recommended product and that it is the right size for your pet.  Avoid some of the inferior medications available on the high street and through pet shops as they’re often ineffective and toxic in some situations. 

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has produced a list of potentially toxic flea treatments to cats so its worth reading this list before you decide which flea treatment you will choose for your cats.  At Doolittle’s Dispensary, we offer a wide range of flea products, some of which you don’t need a veterinary prescription to purchase and if you have any confusion in selecting the right product just email us: info@doolittlesdispensary.com with details of your pet and we will be able to advise on the best course of action.  

Once you’ve selected the flea treatment, ensure that you apply the product to your cat according to the manufacturers recommendations, leaving the area to dry and avoiding touching the area when wet.  Most products will kill any fleas present within 24 hours. 

Seeing fleas on your cat might just be the tip of the iceberg. 95% of fleas and their immature stages live in the environment i.e. your house. Therefore, even though some flea products kill immature flea stages, it is recommended that you treat the environment as well as the animals.

Start by vacuuming your home thoroughly, paying particular attention to the flooring under your furniture and the nooks and crannies where the fleas often hideout. Even wooden floors harbour fleas so hovering can disturb immature stages and encourage dormant stages to become more active and suspectible to anti-flea treatments. 

Don’t forget your cats’ bedding. Turn up the washing machine to at least 60 degrees and scorch those immature flea stages that might be residing in the bedding. 

After a good vacuuming, get yourself an effective household insecticidal spray. Always read the instructions. Some of these sprays aren’t good for fish or other pets. Spray the entire area where your pets frequent and paying attention to the areas that you’ve vacuumed thoroughly. 

Applying the flea treatment and using the insecticidal household spray is only part one of the mission. A sustained attack on the environmental load of immature flea stages is needed. Some flea products can kill all stages of the flea lifecycle so they do some of the work for you. Regular vacuuming and increasing the humidity and temperature within your home can encourage flea eggs to hatch and increase their susceptibility to the flea products. 

It can take several months to remove the flea infestation from your home and you may continue to see fleas on your cat during that period of time. Sometimes the fleas become more obvious as they become hyperactive before dying. It is imperative that you continue the scheduled flea treatment regime as directed by the product manufacturer. 

Once all fleas have been cleared from the environment and your pets, it is important to prevent this from happening again. Use an effective flea treatment and spray your home with an insecticidal spray every twelve months. Here at Doolittle’s Dispensary we offer preventive health care plans (scroll down for cat plans) that contain flea treatments and worming treatments at affordable prices.  These plans will help stop this type of problem happening in the future and we’ll also remind you when your pets next treatment is due. 

Did you know? Fleas can transmit tapeworms too! It’s therefore very important to worm your pet at least every three months with a wormer than is effective against tapeworms.