Does your cat have fleas?
Intense itching and irritation, especially in areas such as the base of the tail or head, your cat is not very excited about playing, spends more time lying down, seems to be weak and depressed. Are these symptoms seems common to you? They are all caused by those little tiny parasites, the fleas. The best way to check if a cat has fleas is to pass an anti-flea brush, those that have fine bristles. See carefully if the comb has picked up some nits, larvae or a flea (they are very small so you have to look good).
Fleas are the most common external parasite of both, dog and sometimes also people, the adult ones feed on blood, consuming up to 15 times their body weight in blood per day! The infestation starts when you take your pet outside, or it goes by itself, like with cats that are used to go outside to check the environment. Those little parasites have the ability to jump up to about 6 inches, the adult ones, of course, that's why they can easily get a ride to inside your house and then begin the feast! Your furry friends can acquire fleas from groomers, kennels, so you must be very careful when it's time to choose one of these. After they feed, the feces will show up on your friend fur like dark pepper-like specs, the mating and egg laying starts within 24 hours, they can lay till, 40-50 per day, that’s why infestations seem to appear from nothing.
The fleas spend the most time on dogs or cats, not on carpets and furniture, that's why you need to treat the pet first. But the eggs and feces are usually in carpets, furniture, cushions or other places that your pet usually spends time, after those eggs hatch, the larvae use the feces as food, transform into a cocoon till they are fully grown (1-3 week) and ready to start the cycle again. Those cocoons are very resistible, they can resist to insecticides and unfavorable conditions, that's why the flea infestation can go back after you treat it, that’s is why is always indicated that you treat the perimeters along with your pet. Provided all pets remain treated, the infestation will be driven to extinction as developing fleas in the home environment emerge, jump on pets, and are killed because of the medicine. With severe infestations, eradication may take several weeks but can be accelerated by concurrent treatment of the premises.
The best way to avoid future household infestations is to maintain pets on a preventive treatment regimen of products like the ones we are going to mention below. The treatment against fleas used to be long and hard, with multiple comebacks, both the pet and the premises should be treated. Now the industry has more advanced and effective products, they are commercialized as oral medication, topic "spot-on" solutions, sprays, collars, and shampoos. The reason these products are so effective is that they kill adult fleas quickly, within 24 hours of jumping on the animal. Moreover, the high level of potency is retained until the next dose is administered. As a result, adult fleas are no longer able to reproduce and deposit eggs into the home environment. Because the products kill biting fleas quickly, pets are less likely to experience itching, irritation, and flea allergy dermatitis. You need to be careful when choosing, some flea products can't be used on cats, while others are not approved for puppies and kittens. If you have an incident flea problem that keeps coming back, it's good to change the product, because the parasites use to develop resistance against products, this way, products that have worked before may not work the next time. This is an important one: Never treat your pet with the same products that you are treating carpets, furniture, or the yard, they can be harmful.
So let’s go for the solutions:
Topical Solutions (Spot-on)
This form of treatment involves applying a few drops of material along the pets’ back or between the shoulder blades. Popular spot-on products approved for use on both dogs and cats include Frontline®/Frontline Plus, Advantage® II, Revolution®, and Vectra®. Applied monthly, each controls adult fleas as well as flea eggs.
Other popular and effective flea medications are administered orally, usually as a chewable tablet. The products work systemically, killing fleas, and in some cases ticks, within hours of ingestion. Examples include Comfortis® and Trifexis® given monthly, and the highly effective group of products known as isoxazolines ― Simparica™ and NexGard® administered monthly and Bravecto® every 3 months. Chewable forms of Bravecto, NexGard, and Simparica are labeled for dogs only. Bravecto® also is sold as a topical solution for both dogs and cats.
Antiparasitic collars: Are made of plastic and contain insecticides that repel fleas and kill them if they have been lodged in the animal's body. Its duration can reach approximately 3 months, and when this time comes you should change it for a new collar because its effectiveness disappears. It is the alternative to pipettes although the first ones last much longer and do not disturb the feline.
These types of anti-flea shampoo helps to eliminate cat fleas. It is not recommended that they are used as a preventive method since to protect the animal would have to give him a bath every two days, something that does not match the nature of the cats.
If you choose to give your cat an anti-flea bath, here are some things you should know. First one, cat's don't really need to bath, the grooming sweep away all the dirt and loose hair, besides that it helps to maintain its health. But in some cases like fleas infestation, here are some tips for a calm bath:
How to give a cat a flea Bath:
- Warm water
- Anti-flea Shampoo
While bathing your pet be sure to rub the back and tail, since most fleas will be entwined there. If possible, let the shampoo works for about 5-10 minutes. Remember to avoid to wet the ears and head. Then rinse the cat very well and dry it well with a white towel. This is the best part for them, so do it with a lot of affection. Finally, get rid of the uncomfortable fleas of your little one by running a comb all over your body. Once your pet is secure, you need to treat the Premises...
Treatment of Premises
Remove all toys, clothing, and stored items from floors, under beds, and in closets. This step is essential so that all areas will be accessible for treatment.
Remove pet food and water dishes, cover any fish tanks, and disconnect their aerators.
Wash pet bedding.
Vacuuming removes many of the eggs, larvae, and pupae developing within the home. Vacuuming also stimulates fleas to emerge sooner from their insecticide-resistant cocoons, thus hastening their exposure to treatments.
By raising the carpet nap, vacuuming improves the insecticide penetration down to the base of the carpet fibers where developing fleas live. Vacuum thoroughly, especially areas where pets rest or sleep. Don't forget to vacuum along edges of rooms and beneath furniture, cushions, beds, and throw rugs. After vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag in a garbage bag and discard it in an outdoor trash container.
Always read and follow instructions on the container. Many different products are available for home flea treatment. The most effective ones contain ingredients such as permethrin, imidacloprid, or dinotefuran that are lethal to the biting adult stage, and an “insect growth regulator” (e.g., methoprene, pyriproxyfen) that halts development of flea eggs and larvae. Householders will need to consult the “active ingredients” panel on the product label to determine if these are present. Popular consumer brands containing such ingredients include Raid Flea Killer Plus® and Ortho® Home Defense. Professional versions sold online include Precor 2000® Plus Premise Spray, PT Alpine® Flea Insecticide, PT Ultracide® Flea Insecticide, and Nyguard® Plus Flea and Tick Premise Spray. Most householders will find aerosols more convenient to use than liquids. Carpets and other surfaces treated with aerosols also tend to dry more quickly.
The application should be thorough and include all likely areas of flea development. Carpets, throw rugs, under and behind beds and furniture, and beneath sofa cushions on which pets sleep should all be treated. Pay particular attention to where pets spend much of their time since this is where most of the eggs, larvae, and pupae will be concentrated. For example, if the family cat sleeps on a chair or hides under a bed, these areas should be treated as well. Hardwood, tile and concrete floors generally do not need to be treated but should be vacuumed. People and pets should remain off treated surfaces until the spray has dried. This may take a few hours depending on the carpet type, ventilation, and method of application (aerosols tending to dry faster than liquids).
Even after treatment, expect to see some fleas for a few weeks or longer. These are often newly emerged adults, which have not yet succumbed to the insecticide. Instead of retreating immediately, continue to vacuum. As mentioned earlier, vacuuming stimulates insecticide-resistant flea pupae/cocoons to hatch, bringing emerging adults into contact with the treatment sooner. If adult fleas continue to be seen beyond 4 weeks, retreatment of the premises and/or pets may be necessary. Homeowners not wanting to treat premises themselves can enlist the services of a professional pest control firm.
A form of treatment NOT recommended for fleas involves using total-release insect foggers, sometimes referred to as “bug bombs”. While insecticide foggers require little effort to use, they are seldom effective against fleas or other household pests. This is partly because the ingredients are released upwards into the air and often do not reach into hidden areas of flea development. Besides their lack of effectiveness, the ingredients in total-release insect foggers may be flammable when dispensed near an open flame. (For more on these non-recommended products, see University of Kentucky Entomology Entfact-643, Limitations of Home Insect Foggers.)
Flea traps utilizing light and a glue board can be useful in capturing adult fleas and monitoring the status of treatment. The traps will not eliminate an infestation unless used in combination with other methods. One of the most effective flea traps on the market uses an alternating on-off (green) light to simulate the shadow of a passing animal. Research has shown that fleas respond to green light more than other wavelengths. The device, myFleaTrap®, can be purchased online.
Treatment of Yard
Most flea problems can be eliminated by treating the pet and if needed the interior of the home. If pets spend most of their time outdoors, it may also be useful to treat the yard. Similar to indoor treatments, outdoor treatments should focus on areas where pets rest, sleep and run, e.g., doghouse and kennel areas, along fences, under decks, and next to the foundation. It is seldom necessary to treat the entire yard, or areas exposed to the full sun since these areas are less preferred for flea development. Insecticide formulations containing an insect growth-regulating ingredient such as pyriproxyfen (Archer® Insect Growth Regulator, NyGuard® IGR Concentrate) prevent hatching/development of flea eggs and larvae for several months. Diluted in water, the insecticides can be applied with a hose-end or pump-up sprayer. Such treatments can also help prevent/suppress fleas in commercial kennels and animal shelters.
Always read and follow label directions and the advice of your veterinarian.