“Does my cat have fleas?” If you find yourself asking this question, chances are you already have a hunch. You may have noticed changes in the behavior or appearance of your cat. The worst case scenarios of flea infestation have crossed your mind. After all, humans can get fleas from cats and you’d hate the thought of fleas multiplying in your house.
That time of the year
First of all, is it “flea season?” Fleas abound during spring and summertime but did you know that cats can get fleas in winter too? Adult fleas won’t last long in the cold but their eggs and pupae can survive temperature in the 30s. Besides, with central heating in many homes, fleas can simply wait for the right time to jump to your cat or on your clothes while you’re outside.
Once the female flea finds its host, it will take her first bloody meal and lay 50 eggs or so. Where cats live in a temperate environment, they are at risk of catching fleas all year round. Also, if you had an infestation during the warmer months, it is likely that the surviving eggs will mature and continue their reproductive cycle in the cooler months.
Must. Keep. Scratching.
If after checking your climate and the history of flea infestation in your apartment you find out that your cat is a possible carrier of fleas, observe any behavioral changes. Is your cat scratching like a maniac? You would too if you got bitten by nasty blood-sucking fleas that leave their allergy-causing saliva on your skin and leave it itchy and inflamed.
Perhaps your cat is grooming in vain and can’t seem to stop? Notice if your cat is biting, chewing, or licking her coat aggressively in inconspicuous places like its groin, undersides, and base of its tail.
Fluctuations in energy
Fleas drive cats insane. Your cat can suddenly become moody and restless. It may avoid its bedding as well as carpets and rugs. In such case, we’re sorry to say but your cat has already scattered the eggs, pupae, and larvae of the fleas in those places.
If your cat is not frantically scratching, growling, rolling over, and shaking its head, it must be exhausted. Be alert when your cat becomes lethargic, has pale gums, and experiences muscle loss. Rampant and prolonged exposure to fleas can cause flea anemia which can be fatal to sick cats, senior cats, and kittens.
The obvious signs
No, it’s not pepper on your cream-colored couch. It’s likely that those are the fecal droppings of fleas. If you lay your cat on a white towel or rub a paper towel on its fur, flea dirt should be apparent. Your cat’s bedding may also have those black or red spots. Check the carpets too for translucent oblong-shaped flea eggs and black, worm-like larvae.
If you can get your cat to sit still, you can check for skin lesions, scabs, bald spots, hair loss, raised, and inflamed bites. In heavy infestation, it is likely that you will see the jumping fleas too. These can be black or reddish-brown in color. Pale-colored fleas mean they have sucked so much blood already.
Does your cat have the telltale signs of a flea infestation? Before the situation gets any worse, schedule an appointment with your cat’s vet as soon as possible. Lethargic cats should be seen by a vet at the soonest time. Your battle with fleas on your cat and in your home can take weeks or months to conquer. In most cases, flea exterminator services may be necessary.