Protecting Your Cat From Fleas
Fleas are a persnickety insect that can infect not only your pet, causing them unlimited annoyance and irritation - they can also effect your home and all of the belongings within it. A simple flea bath or collar won't do the trick for getting rid of fleas completely, but we can help you determine the best ways for you to annihilate these little buggers off your cat and out of your home for good!
Understanding how a flea works and it's life cycle is a good place to start when analyzing your flea problem. You have to understand how the enemy thinks, right? Well first, did you know that the 'cat flea' (Ctenocephalides felix) is the most widely found flea in the US and infects not only cats but dogs, humans, livestock, other mammals, and birds.
Fleas begin their life journey primarily in damp, moist, and warm climates. They find a warm-blooded host most of the time and use their saliva to soften the skin so they can access the blood more easily. This saliva is what commonly leads to itching, scratching, and allergies in your pet and in ourselves.
Now let's jump ahead to a fully formed, adult flea. Adult fleas have a flat, hairy body that allows them to navigate through pet and human hair. The female flea will lay white, round eggs and can lay up to 50 eggs per day.
Now the eggs on the other hand do not have any device like hair to attach them to the animal they're occupying and a lot of the time, the eggs will simply fall off of your pet. Often when they fall though, they'll land within your home, in the trenches of your rugs or floorboards. Eggs can develop and hatch anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks depending on the environment.
Flea larvae is the next stage after the flea's have developed enough to hatch from their eggs. At this stage, the fleas are semi-transparent and about a quarter of an inch long. During this time they normally don't find a host to attach to, but instead eat the feces of adult fleas and other organic items they find in the area they are. This phase lasts anywhere from 5 to 18+ days. Once the stage is complete, the flea larva wrap themselves in a spun silk cocoon.
Now we're in the final stages of this nasty development and the flea has reached the Paupa stage. Fleas are odd in that their development is very conditional, they can remain in their cocoon for as little as 3 to 5 days or stay within it for an entire year or longer, it simply depends. Multiple factors help provoke the flea from it's cocoon, things like warm temperatures, and high humidity can help urge them out of the safety of their silk vessels.
For most of us - we're not going to know there are fleas around our home and pet until we notice or begin to feel itching, scratching, and irritation. So first things first, I already have fleas so how do I get rid of them? After that we can dig in to how to prevent them once they're finally gone!
1. Flea Shampoo Bath:
Time to get sudzy with your pet. A Shampoo bath is one of the most solid ways to penetrate your pet's coat and really get rid of those frustrating fleas. Now this isn't a full-on treatment and the effects of the flea shampoo may only last a day or two but they should clean off any existing fleas your cat may have.
These are topical creams or oils that you can apply directly on to your pet's skin, normally between the shoulder blades on their back. This can help stop flea larvae growth and usually helps protect your pet from acquiring any further fleas for about a month.
Your pet can receive either a pill or injected medication that will break the life cycle of the flea, making it impossible for the flea larvae to break out of their eggs. Used in combination with regular on-going flea protection, this can be one of the best methods for keep fleas off your pet.
4. Flea Collars:
Flea collars primarily kill adult fleas but can also be effective in preventing egg and larval development too. Collars make it easy for the treatment to be absorbed by your pet's skin into their subcutaneous fat layer making it very effective. You can leave these collars on your pet for a month before swapping them out but the time-line can depend from brand to brand.
These are strong chemical rinses that completely rid your pet of fleas, mites, ticks, and an other parasite that may have attached to them through their skin or coat. Now this only effective on adult fleas, not eggs or larva and it lasts about 2-weeks.
Being a pet-parent is a full time job and it's easy to miss things from time to time, for instance an insanely small bug sifting through your cat's hair. We suggest performing regular flea and tick checks for your pet at least once a week. This way it becomes a part of both of your routines and you both become accustomed to the process. This also helps nip fleas in the bud quickly and ensure your prevention methods are still working!
If you have any more holistic, home remedies, or any other ideas that have worked when it comes to keep your cat flea-free, shoot us an email and let us know! Thanks and good luck out there in your fight against fleas!