Where do fleas hide?
Fleas hop onto your cat to feed on his/her blood; they then lay their eggs, which can be up to 50 a day. The eggs are not very sticky, so they quickly fall off your pet. The fleas and their eggs can be found in a number of flea friendly locations, such as:
- The Car
- The animals' own bedding
- Vacuum cleaners
These areas should be treated, when treating your cat for fleas.
The fleas life cycle
The life cycle of a common flea can last as little as three weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity of their surroundings. It is little wonder that with the introduction of fitted carpets and central heating to a lot of homes, the flea problem has increased over the years. However, it is important to note that fleas can also live in wooden floor boards so always be alert for the presence of fleas, even if you don't have carpet flooring.
For more information, please contact the Veterinary Surgery for advice.
The Egg Stage
A female flea lays as many as 50 eggs per day, they quickly fall off your cat and hatch in two to five days. A female flea lays around 2,000 eggs in his lifetime.
The Laval Stage
After hatching, the larvae head toward dark places around your home and feed on "flea dirt" - Excrement of the partially digested blood of your cat. The larvae grow; moult twice, the spin cocoons, where they grow into pupae.
The Pupa Stage
The length of this stage averages 8 to 9 days. Depending on weather conditions, population explosions typically occur five to six weeks after the weather starts to warm up.
The Adult Stage
The adults emerge from their cocoons when they detect heat, vibrations and exhaled carbon dioxide indicating that there is a host nearby. Once they hop onto a host, the adults mate and begin the life cycle all over again. The entire life cycle can be as short as three to four weeks.
Identifying flea infestation - The warning signs:
Black specks on your cat or his/her bedding could be flea dirt. Which are the faeces of partially digested blood from you cat, excreted by the adult fleas. They can often be found around the neck area and the base of the cats tail.
There are two easy ways to check for flea dirt:
Using a metal flea comb, available form the Veterinary Practice. Run the comb over your cat, making sure the comb reaches the cats skin through the coat. If there are black specks on the comb they may be flea dirt.
Place a white paper towel beneath your cat and rub your hands across the fur. If black specks appear on the towel, they may be flea dirt.
With both of these methods, to confirm if the specks are flea dirt. Place the specks on a white piece of paper, sprinkle a few drops of water on the specks and if after a couple of minutes a reddish, brown stain is seen in the water. It will indicate that the dirt contains, partially digested blood from your cat. This is flea dirt.
Your cat may exhibit nervous or annoyed behaviour coupled with excessive scratching and or grooming, your cat may even start to bite himself, which not only confirms the presence of fleas, but also may indicate that the presence of fleas may be affecting your cats health. (See ailments below)
Fleas may affect your cat in the following ways:
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
When a flea bites your cat, it deposits a small amount of saliva into the skin. Your cat can develop FAD in reaction to this saliva, which causes severe itching. The condition can cause excessive, scratching, biting, redness, soreness and even hair loss and scabby regions especially over the cats, neck, back, and the base of the tail. You and your family may also suffer from flea bites.
This may occur in young, older or ill cats if too many fleas suck their blood. The symptoms of anaemia include pale gums, weakness and lethargy in your pet.
Treatment and prevention
There are many flea treatments sold today, but not all of them can be effective or appropriate for your cat, and although it may appear to be cheaper, you may end up spending more in the long run. Today however, products sold by Veterinary Practices to treat flea infestation are extremely effective and safe, (if the manufacturers instructions are followed). There are a number of presentations available including: Sprays, spot-on's or oral treatments.
Consult the Veterinary Practice with regard to the best treatment for your cat.
Only 5% of the flea population will be on your cat, so separate environmental treatment of wherever your cat has been is also vital in preventing re-infestation.
Other preventative methods, include:
Vacuuming frequently, wherever your cat has been, especially around any carpeted area of the home, in your car and in around your cats bedding and your bedding, if he sleeps with you. This will help to clean up as many immature fleas (eggs, larvae and pupae) as possible. Also treating your vacuum cleaner's nozzle, dispose frequently of the bag or treat inside the cleaner with environmental treatments.
Washing your cats bedding, blanket and other washable items frequently in the hottest water cycle available.