Getting rid of your cat's fleas: our advice and solutions

Posted on December 17 2018

Getting rid of your cat's fleas: our advice and solutions

Fleas, as small as they are, can quickly turn your cat's life into hell and annoy their world. In order to avoid seeing your daily life turned upside down, you will find in this article some tips to anticipate ... before it's too late!

What are the chips?

The flea ( Ctenocephalides felis ) is the most common cutaneous external parasite in dogs and cats . It is a small wingless insect that is about 2 mm long and laterally flattened. His long legs allow him to jump high and far. Only the adult flea is a parasite and can be observed in the fur of your cat. Other immature stages of development: larvae and nymphs are not parasites and end up in the environment. Your cat can become the host of his little animals when he comes out, he is in contact with other animals or because there are eggs in your home.

Once on your animal, the flea will tend to stay as long as possible to feed as often as possible, breed and spawn. An adult flea lays about 50 eggs a day and for a period of three weeks (about 1,000 eggs / reproductive life chip). Eggs fall quickly into the environment because they do not stick to the hair and they hatch in a few days in good conditions. The larvae will then seek to protect themselves from drought and light and to lodge in your environment(parquet, baseboards, carpets, ...). They feed on adult faeces and organic matter. They are transformed into nymphs that resist in the environment until they can hatch (sometimes only after 6 months).

In general, the chips have a very high mortality rate because they do not survive below 50% moisture and below too cold temperatures and larvae and pupae are killed above 35 ° C . In winter, the parasites survive on their host or in a mild environment: your interior and its surroundings (eg the dog's kennel, ...). Thus we can find fleas all year but their population has a peak in the spring / summer.

What are the symptoms and how to detect fleas on your cat?

There are two clinical presentations of flea infestation:
  • Pullicose simple : due to the irritating, traumatic and inflammatory action of bites . It is a brief and generally not symptomatic attack. Itching is mild to moderate without preferential localization. There are papules at the stitches and many fleas are visible in the hair.
  • DAPP or Allergic Dermatitis with Flea Bites (via insect saliva): related to an immediate or delayed allergic process to different substances present in flea saliva. A low parasite load may be enough to trigger this process. The itching is intense and localized especially on the dorso-lumbar region of the animal with lesions in "Christmas tree" typical: redness, papules, excoriations, crusts, hair loss. The involvement can be complicated by hyperpigmentation, hyperkeratosis or superficial to deep pyoderma. In the cat this attack can spread to the head and neck or even generalize.
  • In humans : the bites are located mainly at the ankles and legs . It is often an attack of "young fleas" recently emerged from their cocoon and hungry, for example in a holiday apartment left empty a time. Ideally insects look for a "hairy" animal host but hunger can make them sting you. The itching will be more or less strong depending on whether the quibbled individual has an allergic phenomenon or not.
To highlight them you can:
  • Caress your cat to turn back hair by spreading well at the base in order to see the skin and with a little luck a flea pass. Nevertheless you must have a keen eye because they move quickly and in case of weak infestation it is easy to miss.
  • Comb your cat with a small comb hoping to trap a chip in his teeth tight or harvest hairs with excrement : small blackish grains similar to small grains of pepper. To determine whether they are flea droppings : place the small grains on an absorbent paper or a white tissue and moisten it. If the grains become reddish on contact with water, they are flea droppings containing digested blood.

How to treat and rid your cat of fleas?

The fight against the disease is based on the treatment of the animal, the treatment of other animals and the treatment of the environment of its last. It aims to satisfy two conditions: kill the fleas present and protect your cat against re-infestations as long as possible.

There are several treatment presentations : shampoos, powders, necklaces, pipettes or tablets . The choice of treatment is based on:
  • effectiveness
  • speed and duration of action
  • utilisation facility
  • the absence of toxicity

the circumstances of the infestation and the need to eliminate other pests or not.
Your veterinarian will be able to adapt the treatment to your cat's specific situation.

In the case of DAPP (Allergic Dermatitis Flea Bites) it will be preferred a treatment that acts very quickly to kill adult fleas to limit bites and thus reduce the symptoms of allergy as quickly as possible. You will be advised to maintain a permanent anti-flea therapy throughout the year, to protect your sensitive companion permanently.

Clean your environment

In general, it is recommended to treat the infected animal and the animals in contact with the environment of the latter.

The latest available treatments are more and more safe to use and highly effective thus avoiding a systematic insecticide treatment of your interior . It is still strongly advised to take advantage of this to clean up the house thoroughly by vacuuming (throw away the bag to eliminate a large part of the eggs and larvae that would be there), washing well your linens (especially those on which your cat is taking a nap) and cleaning the living areas of your animals.

In the most severe cases of infestation, insecticides spray or aerosol can be prescribed for more efficiency.

Finally, since fleas are often carriers of a digestive endoparasitic worm of cats and dogs ( Dipylidium caninum ), an adequate dewormer will probably be put in place simultaneously.

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