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Just Cats Veterinary Clinic
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The most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea. Occasionally, rabbit and hedgehog fleas may be found on cats. Using modern treatments it is now virtually possible to eliminate fleas on cats.
While many cats live with fleas and show minimal signs of infestation, control is advisable because:
During grooming cats eat fleas in their coat, making them difficult to find. An itchy cat, or insect bites on human ankles, may be the only signs of infestation. The best way to demonstrate the presence of fleas is to place the cat on a sheet of white paper and comb it meticulously. A fine-
The adult flea lives permanently on its animal host. Within two days the female starts to produce eggs at a rate of 50 a day. The eggs fall off the cat's coat into the environment together with 'flea dirt', which provides food for the hatching larvae. Eggs and larvae may be found anywhere the cat has been, but are particularly concentrated in places where the cat sleeps. The larvae move away from light and penetrate deep into carpet and soft furnishing. The flea can emerge and attach to the host in seconds. However, if no host is present the flea can lie waiting in the cocoon for up to two years. In the right conditions the whole cycle can be completed in 15 days. Centrally heated homes with fitted carpets provide ideal conditions for all year round development of fleas. One adult flea can leave hundreds of eggs, larvae and pre-
Killing adult fleas
A wide range of products is available to kill adult fleas on the cat. These vary in their formulation, speed, efficacy, duration of action, ease of use and cost. For an animal allergic to flea bites, where the aim is to prevent any bites, an agent which kills fleas rapidly should be chosen.
Removing fleas in the environment
Frequent vacuuming can help to reduce, but not eliminate, environmental infestation. Vacuum bags should be disposed of to prevent collected immature flea stages continuing to develop in the house. Anything that is heavily infested, such as pet bedding, should be disposed of.
Treatments can be used to prevent re-
To be effective all treatment guidelines should be followed. For some treatments there may be a lag of weeks to months in which fleas in the environment continue to develop.
Once the adult fleas have been removed from all the animals in the house and the environmental stages have been eliminated, treatment can be reappraised. In a completely indoor household where none of the pets go out, no further treatment may be necessary. However, where pets go outside further treatment will be needed, probably in the form of a single agent. This could be residual treatment that kills adult fleas on the animals or one that provides environmental control by interrupting the flea's life cycle. An on-