Fleas. We hate them and so do our cats. If you notice that your cat has been scratching and biting itself all over its body, it might be due to a flea infestation.
Just the mention of fleas is enough to make most people start scratching themselves. And the worse thing is, we humans are also vulnerable to fleas and can get bitten by these darn bloodsuckers.
Thankfully, there are now many effective methods of getting rid of fleas on your cat. The one thing that every cat owner should have to combat fleas is the cat flea comb.
Don’t Diss The Cat Flea Comb
The flea comb works on cats and it works very well. The finely spaced teeth of a flea comb allow you to effectively remove fleas of different life cycles from your cat’s fur. This includes adult fleas, flea eggs and even flea dirt (feces). Use the cat flea comb first before moving on to other products.
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are very tiny insects or should I say parasites. They are in fact so tiny that it can be difficult to spot them with the naked eye at times. 0.039 to 0.13 inches to be exact. Fleas only feast on the blood of animals, birds and humans.
Female fleas can feed up to 15x times their body weight in a single day. That is like eating 100 Big Macs daily for a human.
Being so small, how do fleas get themselves onto our cats?
They have an amazing vertical leap of 8 inches which is enough to propel them off the ground and onto your cat. They can also jump from one host to another if there’s an opportunity.
How to Spot A Flea Infestation On your Cat?
With fleas being so darn tiny, they can be difficult to spot on your cat if you aren’t vigilant enough. However, there are some signs that you can look out for to confirm this.
The most obvious signs will be an itching and scratching cat. Not just your usual cat scratch but one that can go on for hours causing blisters, cuts and lesions on your cat’s body. This can be on any part of your cat’ body, from its ears to the tail.
Another way to spot fleas is when you see tiny black dots moving and jumping around on your cat’s fur. You can also see flea dirt which is actually the feces. They are small and dark crusted bits on your cat’s fur. It can be harder to spot on cats’ with darker fur.
Fleas like to set up camp in areas there are difficult for the cat to reach like its tummy, back and tail base. If you see your cat biting these areas, make sure to check for fleas.
Dangers Of A Flea Infestation
On top of all the compulsive scratching and biting that your cat will have to endure which can damage its skin, kittens are at risk of flea bite anemia. This is when young kittens that have a severe flea infestation lose too much blood to the fleas and becomes anemic.
Without proper treatment, the kitten can go into shock and die.
How To Choose A Good Flea Comb?
There are not that many variations when it comes to flea combs but there are a few things to note before buying a good quality flea comb.
The most important feature would be the space between the comb teeth. As mentioned, fleas are really tiny hence buying a flea comb that doesn’t do a good job in removing the fleas from your cat is a waste of time and money.
Next would be the material of the teeth. It usually comes in plastic or metal with metal definitely being more durable. However, some cats might not like metal teeth as it is too hard on their skin. Comfort is also important for your cat as getting rid of the fleas takes many brushes with the comb.
Lastly, get a flea comb with a comfortable handle as a badly designed handle will tire your grip after a while.
How To Use A Flea Comb Properly?
There’s more to using a flea comb than just ‘combing’ your cat. Some preparation is required before you start.
- Don’t use a flea comb on your cat if its fur is wet or after a shower. This makes removing the fleas more difficult. Make sure that your cat is completely dry.
- It is best to comb your cat outdoors like on your patio or yard. If this is not possible, indoors is fine too but make sure to properly clean up after.
- Use a pair of gloves.
- Prepare a deep bucket that is half-filled with warm water. Squeeze in a few drops of dish soap.
- Start combing from your cat’s ears and all the way down to the tail.
- You should start to see the fleas stuck in the comb teeth.
- Manually remove them from the fine teeth and into the bucket of soapy water.
- Start brushing your cat again till there’s very little or no fleas stuck on the comb.
- Once done, let the trapped fleas sit in the soapy water for 20 minutes before pouring it away.
A few things to note.
When choosing a dish soap to add to the water, make sure it is one that is non-toxic to cats and gentle on their skin. Some dish soaps contain harsh ingredients that can further irritate your cat’s skin that is already inflamed from the flea bites.
If you have brought your cat to the vet, they can also prescribe a flea shampoo or solution that you can add to the water instead.
Use a pail that is deep enough to prevent the fleas from jumping out and back onto your cat. Otherwise, you will be tucked in an endless vicious cycle.
It will probably take a few sessions of brushing your cat to totally get rid of the fleas so make sure to do it for a couple of days.
Where Should I Brush My Cat For Fleas?
Not only should you be focusing on your cats head, back and tail area. You will also need to comb its stomach, legs and armpit areas.
Leave no fur patch unturned is the golden rule.
How Does The Soapy Solution Kill Adult Fleas?
A mixture of water and dish soap isn’t some miracle concoction that kills adult fleas and flea larvae. Fleas are able to float on water. And by adding dish soap to the water, that helps reduce the surface tension of the water which causes the fleas to sink and drown.
The ingredients in dish soap allow water to also effectively penetrate the outer shell of the fleas and enter their respiratory system.
How To Prevent Flea Infestations On Your Cat?
Prevention is definitely better than cure and there are a few ways that you can help keep these pesky parasites off your cat.
Keep Your Home Flea Free
Fleas can also live in your homes like the garage or artic. If you notice a flea problem at home, make sure to prevent your cats or pets from going near that area. Use a flea spray to kill off the flea infestation.
In the event that you are not successful, it might be necessary to bring in a professional pest exterminator to deal with the problem.
Keep Cat Indoors
Cats that are allowed to roam outdoors have a much higher chance of catching fleas from other places and animals that they come in contact with. The best thing that cat owners can do is to keep their cats indoors.
Proper Flea Control For Your Dogs
If you have dogs at home, it is important that you have proper flea control and prevention measures in place for them.
Dogs are more prone to catch fleas as they are outdoors more when going for walks or playing with other dogs at the park. They can pass the fleas to your indoor cats when they interact at home. Flea transmission between dogs and cats in multi-pets homes is very common.
Giving your dog its regular flea medication and flea bath is a good way to prevent a full-blown flea infestation from happening at home.
Electric Flea Comb For Cats
The electric flea comb is basically a more supped up version of your normal flea comb. It works exactly the same way but there is one special thing about the electric comb.
It passes an electric current while you comb your cat that can stun and kill the fleas. The manufacturers claim that the current is too low to do any harm to your cat but strong enough to shock the living daylights of those fleas.
I personally have not used an electric flea comb on my cat. It might be worth a try if you aren’t having much luck with the conventional combs.
Other Types Of Flea Treatments For Cats
Using a flea comb isn’t the only way to get rid of fleas. Another popular method is to use flea medication from brands like Revolution and Frontline.
You just have to apply the solution between the shoulder blades of your cat or dog and let it get absorbed into the blood. The fleas who are busy sucking up your cat’s blood will also ingest the solution which will kill them.
There are a number of pet owners who are concerned about the toxicity of such medications. Fleas are hard to kill therefore the ingredients used in these solutions have to be strong and harsh to be effective. This can have many side effects on your pets, especially kittens and puppies.
There are also products like flea spray, flea shampoos and flea collars that are commercially sold at pet stores. My advice is to not just buy them off the counter without first consulting your vet just to be on the safe side.
A Flea infestation is more than just physical trauma. It is also a very stressful period for your cat who can’t have any reprieve from the constant itching. Don’t forget that fleas can also feed on humans. Make sure to always check your pets for any signs of fleas and immediately proceed to get rid of them.