For cat owners fleas can become a part of everyday life. All too often cat owners find themselves being bitten by stray fleas on a regular and failing to get an infestation under control despite their best efforts.
The truth is that there are a few tricks to ridding your cat (and your house) of fleas that are poorly understood by many pet owners and pet care advisers alike. Fortunately with just a little basic guidance everyone can adopt these strategies that will virtually guarantee a flea-free house.
So if you’ve been struggling (and failing) to get rid of fleas in your house fear not help is at hand!
Diagnosing a Flea Infestation
There are two common methods by which people will diagnose a flea infestation. For one owners may spot little black dots moving about in their pet’s fur. Alternatively you may find yourself an unfortunate victim of stray fleas causing swollen, red, itchy patches on your skin.
However because of the chemicals and effort involved with eliminating a flea infestation, before you begin the process is pays to make sure that fleas are indeed causing your problems rather than some other pest or parasite.
The most reliable way to check your cat for fleas is to brush him or her over a damp piece of newspaper or kitchen roll. As fleas drink blood to survive, their faeces will normally consist almost entirely of dried blood. As you brush your cat and these faeces fall onto the damp paper they will normally stain it a pale pink or red colour thanks to the dried blood they contain. In this way you can be certain that it is indeed fleas that are leading to your misery.
Treating Your Cat for Fleas
Once you have ascertained that fleas are indeed the problem it is time to treat your cat. A broad range of different treatments may be purchased that claim to beat a flea infection. The most potent of these are “prescription only” and available from your vets though these normally cost far more than the medications bought from a pet shop.
One of the most popular – and reliable – options is to make use of a so-called “spot on” liquid. This is used to dose your cat’s fur, typically placing drops of the fluid in the back of the neck and along your pet’s back.
As with all methods of eliminating fleas however it is essential to fully follow the instructions. Even just a minor deviance from the advice given may see that the remedy is ineffective. Also be aware that very few of these remedies can be used together. Some cat owners try to be “doubly safe” by using, for example, a spot-on liquid and a flea collar. In most cases however this will give your cat a dose of pesticide that is far too high and can cause skin problems in its own right.
Beating Fleas by Treating Your Cats Bedding
Here’s the magic. Many pet owners treat their pet for fleas and then consider that the problem has been eliminated. They are then surprised some weeks later when another infestation breaks out.
The truth is that fleas lay eggs of course. These eggs drop off your infected cat and can sit around in your carpet for months on end, waiting for the right signal to hatch. Removing as many as possible of these dormant flea eggs is therefore essential if you are to break the flea’s lifecycle in your home.
The place your cat spends most of its time in your home is the area where the most flea eggs will have been shed. In most places this will be your pets’ bed, though it may alternatively be on top of a favoured piece of furniture etc.
It is crucial if you are to eliminate fleas from your home that as many of these eggs are removed as possible. Normally the best solution is to thoroughly wash your cat’s bed on a regular basis. Over time you should see far fewer fleas around as more and more of the eggs are destroyed with each successive wash. Some vets even recommend dosing your pet’s bed with an anti-flea medication for good measure.
Removing Flea Eggs from Your Home
While your cat’s bed may be the most common place to find flea eggs, the truth of the matter is that if your cat has had fleas, anywhere your cat is allowed may be prone to flea eggs. That means that thoroughly vacuuming your home on a regular basis – including under any items of furniture where your cat has access – is a very smart move.
Lastly, when you’ve vacuumed your home don’t forget to remove and throw away the bad. The last thing you want to do is to suck up all those eggs and then just have them hatch in your vacuum before climbing back out again.
Remember that most cats will spend long periods of time outside the home, sometimes in contact with other cats in the neighbourhood. As a result it is possible that your cat may pick up fleas from others in the neighbourhood.
Worse, other local cats my actually come into your home, potentially infecting it with fleas. If such a situation keeps on occurring then consider installing a cat flap that requires a “key” to pass through. This access key is then placed onto your cat’s collar, allowing your cat in while keeping others out.
Stick with the process of eliminating fleas and you should find over time that your infestation drops. And should your cat ever before re-infected you’ll be far better prepared next time around.