The common cat flea thrives in warm, humid settings but can survive in cars, basements, dog houses and similarly protected areas for about a year.
Fleas have 4 life stages – Eggs, Larvae, Pupae, and Adults. Fleas live on blood from mammals.
Indoor only cats still can catch fleas, they can come inside on their owners.
A single flea bite can cause allergic reactions in cats sensitive to the flea’s saliva which can cause itching, hair loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections.
Fleas are carriers of tapeworms and can transmit them to your cat if the cat should ingest one while grooming itself.
Since the flea lives on blood from your cat, it can cause your cat to become anemic. Kittens are especially vulnerable to flea-caused anemia.
Fleas can transmit other bacteria to your cat such as Bartonella (which causes Cat-Scratch disease) and Mycoplasma (which can make your cat sick).
Getting rid of fleas once your cat has them can sometimes be a problem, especially in the hot summer weather. The best way to make sure you have gotten rid of them is to treat your house, treat your yard and treat your cat. Here are some suggestions for getting rid of fleas:
To get rid of fleas in your house – sprinkle Borax on your carpets, let it sit for 20-30 minutes then vacuum it up (make sure your cat is not in the room at the time so they don’t get the borax on their feet). You can also use the Borax on your cat’s carpeted cat trees, just be sure to vacuum them thoroughly before your cat gets on them again. Also be sure to wash any bedding that your cat sleeps on in hot water (you can also add some borax to the wash water).
To treat your yard for fleas – One thing that the Cat Hospital of Tidewater recommends is beneficial nematodes. They are microscopic roundworms that can be applied to your yard and they grow and live in the soil. They attack harmful soil-dwelling insects such as fleas but are not harmful to people, pets and plants. For more information about beneficial nematodes, click here.
Be sure to keep your cat on a monthly flea preventative to keep fleas off of your cat. The Cat Hospital recommends Advantage II. If your cat has an infestation of fleas, the Advantage II is safe enough to put on your cat once a week till the infestation has cleared, then put them back on a once-a-month dose. **This recommendation is just for the Advantage II, we cannot say if other flea preventatives are safe enough to use more than once-a-month.**
For more information about fleas, check out the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
Cats can get heartworms!! It is not a dog-only problem.
Heartworm infection takes place when a mosquito carrying microscopic-size heartworm larvae bites a cat. The larvae enter through the bite wound where they develop in the tissues. The immature worms then enter a blood vessel and are carried to the arteries in the lung where they cause an inflammatory reaction. Most worms die at this stage, causing even more inflammation. The worms that progress to the adult stage may live undetected for a couple of years. But, when the adult worms die, the inflammation can be severe enough to cause death. The respiratory signs associated with these reactions are called Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).
Heartworm disease in cats is known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). Signs of HARD include anorexia, blindness, collapse, convulsions, coughing, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, fainting, lethargy, rapid heart rate, sudden death, vomiting and weight loss.
Since mosquitoes can get inside the house, indoor-only cats can be at risk.
The best way to prevent heartworm disease is to put your cat on a heartworm preventative (the Cat Hospital recommends Advantage Multi). Also be sure to eliminate mosquito breeding areas around your house, such as standing water.
For more information about feline heartworms, check out this article from the Cornell Feline Health Center.
If you have any questions about fleas and heartworms in cats, please call us at 757-466-9151.
A special offer available until December 31, 2015:
Purchase a 6-pack of Advantage II or Advantage Multi and get 2 doses for free!