10 Things You Need to Know to Fight Fleas

Indoor Cats Get Fleas Too

This year we’ve noticed a lot of our beloved indoor cats getting fleas! Fleas are sneaky little buggers. They are tiny enough to fit through screens and cracks in your apartment. They also have no problem hitching on to your pant leg or jacket. It’s also possible your dog, or a dog in your building is bringing in fleas after their daily walk.

Beware of Generic Flea Medications

Many of the generic flea medications you may find at Costco, Wal-Mart etc are only EPA approved (Environmental Protection Agency). The EPA’s Office of Pesticides is working to improve safety for pet use, but there continues to be incidents (skin allergies, vomiting, diarrhea and even death) associated with over-the-counter flea medications. We strongly recommend looking for veterinarian and FDA approved products like ADVANTAGE, FRONTLINE, and REVOLUTION.

Remove Fleas from the Cat and the House

The only way to really get rid of fleas is to clean both your house and your cat.

FOR THE FELINE: Using a reputable flea-preventative year round is the most important thing you can do to get rid of fleas on your cat. If your cat is already infested, a bath can help to get rid of flea dirt. Give us a call if you have any questions on which flea preventative to use.

FOR YOUR HOME: We recommend washing bedding and any cloth items that may have been on the floor, if possible make sure to run them through a 30 min dryer cycle. Keep cleaned sheets in a plastic bag until the whole house is cleaned. Vacuum carpets and couches to suck up fleas, eggs and larvae. Mop down tile and wood floors. We also recommend purchasing Siphotrol Premise Spray to get to all the cracks and corners, just make sure to keep your cat out of the room your spraying until it dries.

Fleas Reproduce and Spread Like Crazy

It’s important to handle a flea problem the second you notice it! Fleas multiply at an alarming rate and the fleas you see on your cat represent only 5-10% of the fleas in the environment.

Just Grooming Won’t Help

Most cats are compulsive groomers, but in a case of a flea situation even the roughest tongue won’t do the trick. And while a bath may help clean off fleas momentarily, they’ll be ready to jump right back on the minute your cat gets out of the tub.

Become a Flea Detective

It’s important to treat a flea problem quickly. Here’s best how to spot them:

SCRATCHING: If your kitty is constantly scratching that’s definitely a sign he or she may have fleas

FLEA DIRT: Flea dirt is actually dried blood discarded from the flea. Flea poop essentially. (yeah we went there) It usually looks like black pepper or black dandruff. You can check your kitty’s coat or the couch or blanket your kitty sleeps on.

USE A FLEA COMB: Flea combs are finer than a regular cat brush. You can pick one up at a pet store or bring your kitty in here and we’ll do some investigating. Flea combs are able to finely search the coat for any hiding fleas.

Know the Life Cycle of Fleas

Stage One: FLEA EGGS – These eggs are not sticky, and therefore easily fall off your cat and only your carpet/rug/bedding. Yikes!

Stage Two: FLEA LARVAE – Tiny white worms, 6mm in length. They feed on organic material found on their host or in their environment.

Stage Three: FLEA PUPAE – The environment will dictate when a adult flea hatches from the pupae stage. The larvae can live dormant in this cocoon for a full year, and then hatch during the warmer, moister months. This is why in San Francisco we see flea infestations take over during the summer months. It’s possible the fleas have been in the home for a year, just not ready to hatch.

Stage Four: ADULT FLEA – At this stage the adult flea finds a host and begins feeding and reproducing.

Flea Bites Cause More Than Discomfort.

Flea bites can also cause:

SKIN ALLERGIES – Many cats are allergic to flea bites. Beyond the initial discomfort from the flea bite, some cats may develop a skin allergy.

TAPEWORMS – Tapeworms are intestinal parasites passed to your kitty through flea larvae. When your cat chews or licks at the flea bite area he or she may accidentally swallow the flea. If that flea is a host to a tapeworm egg, that tapeworm once ingested, with hatch and grow in your cats intestines.

ANEMIA – Because fleas feed of off your cat’s blood supply it is possible, if the flea infestation is sever enough, for your cat become anemic. This can seriously weaken your cat and in some serious cases can even lead to death.

Some Flea Medications are Based on Weight

While it may not seem like a big deal, it’s important your cat only receives a flea medication that corresponds with their weight. Most brands have a kitten, small cat (5-8lbs) and large cat (9lbs+). If you’re unsure about your cat’s weight feel free to bring him or her to Nob Hill Cat Clinic for a free weight check!

Yes! It's a Challenge But You Can Rid Your House of Fleas!

It is possible to fully rid your house of fleas. By keeping your house clean and your cat on a monthly preventative (even through the winter months!) is the only way to keep a flea infestation from starting.