Whether your cat is a house cat or whether they have access to the outside world, they can easily catch fleas without the relevant preventative measures.
Fleas are the most common parasite that affect cats. Small (2mm), black and very resistant, they feed on cat's blood. Difficult to detect with the naked eye, they live in your cat's fur where they lay their eggs after every meal. A single flea can stay more than 100 days on your cat, feeding on their blood and spreading to other pets and throughout areas of your home.
How to tell if my cat has fleas
It is possible that your cat scratches themselves often because of the itches provoked by the fleas. You can use a fine tooth comb to brush your cat, which will allow you to see the tiny, jumping, black parasites between the teeth of the comb. If you suspect the presence of fleas, you can also look for small black particles nearby, which will likely be their excrement.
The impact of fleas
Certain cats can develop allergies and constant itching to fleas, while others can contract illnesses such as haemobartonellosis (a parasitic disease). In this case, weight loss can occur, as well as excessive licking, particularly under the stomach or flanks.
Red spots can also manifest and provide discomfort to your cat. It is recommended to consult your vet if these persist.
Fleas can also carry Tenia (worm) eggs that can cause digestive issues. So having them treated quickly and efficiently will help to avoid any unwanted illnesses.
How can cats catch fleas?
Generally, cats contaminate each other, although they can contract them if they come into contact with dogs who also have the parasite. Wild animals such as hedgehogs and rabbits can also be carriers.
Fleas are very resistant and reproduce very quickly. If your cat has fleas, it is very likely they will then contaminate your home, particularly the sofas, beds and their own baskets.
Even if your cat doesn't go outside, they can still be contaminated. Fleas can move around and can come into your home where they will happily reproduce on your cat.
Getting rid of fleas
In order to prevent your cat from catching fleas, there are many anti-parasite products available. If your cat already has fleas, it is important to treat them as well as your house.
It's important also to note that many anti-parasitic products contain some nasty chemicals that can be both dangerous to your cat, even to you, especially children. It's important to always read the labels and talk to your vet about the safest options available.
And never give your cat any other flea treatment designed for another animal, especially dog treatments. These often contain permethrin, a potentially lethal chemical to cats.
PETA offers a range of natural and non-toxic suggestions to help avoid a flea infestation.
The use of pipettes is simple and effective. All you need to do is put several drops on the neck of your cat, and the liquid will spread itself over their body.
Anti-parastitic collars work for several months in a limited area. The principal action is around the cat's neck, protecting the cat from fleas. However, the collar doesn't protect the entirety of the cat.
All you need to do is spray your cat with a thin protective layer. If your cat is affected, the product will instantly kill the fleas. Some sprays, however, are easily washed away with water.
This method allows you to easily administer the treatment orally. These are good for if or when your cat already has fleas. The medicine will poison, kill or sterilise the fleas.
Talk to your vet about the relevant preventative measures you can take, or treatment options if your cat has been unlucky and caught the parasite!