Fleas are an unfortunate reality of pet ownership. These nasty little parasites are a huge nuisance and make even the most behaving pet behave like it has become rabid or something. But before we move onto techniques on how to protect yourself and your cat from becoming a host to these nasty pests, let us first understand what they are and how they manage to wreak havoc.
Siphonaptera is the accepted scientific term that is used for fleas. Siphon means Pipe, and Petra means wingless. As the name implies, fleas are wingless parasites that siphon blood from their hosts. They are known to have strong legs, which makes them able to jump from host to host. My observation is that if these little monsters had wings, then the world would have been a lot bleaker than we are used to, so thank God for that.
Fleas are tiny and hard to kill. They being parasites, live on the blood they suck off their host, which causes the itching. Their life expectancy is somewhere around three to four months if they have a host. However, a flea with no host can only expect to survive around a few weeks at best. Hence finding a host is a matter of life and death for them. Fleas are also known to prefer hot weather.
You might have heard the term,” Prevention is better than Cure.” This cannot be more true about fleas. These nasty little buggers are hard to kill and eradicate. They reproduce at the speed of light. A single flea can produce around 2000 eggs in their minuscule lifetime. Hence you mustn’t wait for your cat to get them and start working to prevent them as soon as you bring a cat home.
Now, you have got to know if you still have time for prevention or your cat has already been made a home for these blood siphoning little monsters.
HOW TO CHECK FOR FLEAS:
The first thing you need to do is observe your cat’s fur for any visible movement. If you do see something bouncing there, then you might be too late already as your cat is now an unproud host to an ever-multiplying family of Siphonaptera. Please take out a fine-toothed metal comb and start combing till you see some dead fleas and their eggs. Then soak that thing in detergent (I would prefer hydrochloric acid to dissolve them with the comb fully) for a confirmed kill.
HOW TO PREVENT FLEAS:
Preventing fleas is a lot easier than dealing with them. It is also cheaper to prevent them as once your cat has been made a host, then you will be looking at mounting bills for it. Hence here are a few techniques you can use to prevent fleas.
TAKE YOUR CAT TO YOUR VET:
The first thing you should do when you are sure that you are not dealing with a flea infestation and are going just for prevention is to take your pet to a vet. They will prescribe various preventative measures that can be taken in various forms. These measures will target all the stages of a flea’s life cycle, which can effectively give you the necessary ammunition to save your cat from fleas.
You might be tempted to buy something from off the shelf but let me assure you that these are not as effective as a proper measure.
TAKE THE MEASURES MONTHLY:
The favorite and most ideal timeline a flea might spend their existence in is when the climate is hot, and those are the times you will have to worry most about a flea infestation. However, there is no stopping them in winters as well. So what you want to do is make it a year-round monthly routine to either feed or inject the preventatives so that your cat can stay safe from these bugs.
DO NOT USE PRODUCTS THAT ARE NOT TESTED:
As we suggested earlier, going to your vet is the best chance you have at stopping fleas due to their scientifically proven formulas that work. However, the market is full of items that claim to do the same thing but do not do it very well as they have not gone through the required testing and scientific provability.
CHECKING YOUR CAT REGULARLY FOR FLEAS:
Preventative measures might be most of the battle. However, you still do need to be sure if your cat is flea free. For this, take some time out from your schedule daily with a fine-toothed metal comb and brush away from the head to tail. Be sure to clean your comb as well after every sitting.
DO NOT SKIMP ON THE PREVENTATIVE:
Even if you have given one of your pets a preventative, that still is not a hundred percent guarantee that you won’t be dealing with a lice infestation. If you have any other pets, then extend this prevention regime to them as well. However, do consult your vet on preventatives for every pet.
YOU DO NOT NEED THE FLEA COLLARS:
If you are using strong preventative measures that were given and prescribed to you by your vet, then you do not need other things like flea collars. These collars are not very effective and do more harm than good in the form of skin irritations. Some of these flea collars are also laced with chemicals that are harmful to your cat.
VACUUM CLEAN YOUR PLACE:
Using a vacuum cleaner to clean your home is a very effective preventative measure as the medicine might not be able to hold up if you have fleas lurking around your household—vacuum every nook and cranny but especially the places your cat frequents, twice a week. Do not hold onto the bags as well after you are done. However, you should realize that vacuuming might be a good preventative measure, but it is not a complete elimination protocol.
WASH YOUR CATS BEDDING:
Do you know where it is most likely that there will be fleas? If you said in your cat’s bedding area, then you are right. It would help if you washed your cat’s bedding at least once a week with hot water. This is a huge breeding ground for a lot of fleas.
FLEA ERADICATION PROGRAM:
We said earlier that vacuuming is only a preventative measure. We are now talking about a proper eradication plan. You will need to research and buy insecticide sprays that can kill these nasty little buggers and keep them away from your household for a long time.
You can also call a pest control specialist that will ensure a proper eradication of fleas. You can ask your vet for recommendations, but you should keep asking around as prices vary from provider to provider.
YOUR CAT HAS FLEAS:
You can always keep doing your best with the preventative measure, but some of these buggers have slipped through the cracks and are now living on your cat. Here is what you do to treat your flea-ridden cat.
The first thing you need to do is pick an anti-flea shampoo and bathe your cat in it. Do not be going around mixing different formulas, which can do a lot more harm than good.
You can ask your vet for their prescription of the anti-flea shampoo for your cat.
Next, what you need to do is clean your home thoroughly. Throw away your cat’s bedding and buy a new one as that thing is now a breeding ground for a few generations of fleas.
Use insecticide sprays to fully eradicate the flea menace so that things can go back to normal with your pet. You can also use a fogger.
Fleas are blood-sucking parasites who, if you have not figured from the article itself, then let me tell you, are my most hated insect in the world. These nasty buggers can make your and your cat’s life hell if you do not take some measures to prevent their outbreak. The first thing you want to do is ask your vet to prescribe you some preventative measures to give to your cat. Make a routine of applying these measures. If you have more than one pet, then getting all of them separate prescriptions is needed. You should regularly clean your house and wash your cat’s bedding. It would help if you also considered getting a full eradication plan in the future by ordering pesticides or contacting a pest control agency. If your pet gets fleas, then ask your vet to prescribe a shampoo for your pet. Do not go around mixing and matching.