Parasites – Fleas

The most common type of flea is the cat flea ​(Ctenocephalides felis​), although fleas from other spices may be found on cats occasionally. The best way to establish the presence of fleas is to comb the cat with a fine-toothed comb. If you do this over a white surface such as a large piece of… Read more »

The most common type of flea is the cat flea ​(Ctenocephalides felis​), although fleas from other spices may be found on cats occasionally. The best way to establish the presence of fleas is to comb the cat with a fine-toothed comb. If you do this over a white surface such as a large piece of white paper, any fleas or flea dirts (flea excrement consisting of digested blood) will be deposited onto the surface. If there is any debris (for example small black specs), place this on some damp cotton wool – if these are flea dirt, they will slowly dissolve leaving red-brown blood marks.This demonstrates the presence of fleas even if adults cannot be found.

Flea Life Cycle

 

Adult →Egg→Larvae→Pupae→Adult

The adult fleas will find a host on which to feed. This will be a blood meal from you or your cat. The female will start laying eggs soon after the first meal and will lay several thousand in her lifetime. The eggs are around 0.5mm in size and will take up to a week to develop to the larvae stage. Larvae look similar to maggots and will seek out dark crevices in which to develop into the pupae stage. The pupae will remain in this stage until the conditions are right to hatch, this can vary between 1 week and 1 years. It is not affected by household sprays.

 

Treatments

The flea life cycle needs to be broken before treatment is complete. The most effective treatments are a combination of treating the cat directly with a spot on or tablet and also treating the house. Many treatments that are available over the counter will be ineffective.

NEVER use a flea product on a cat that has been formulated for use on a dog – some of these contain permethrin, or related compounds, that can kill cats. Care should be taken to ensure that cats never have contact with these products, including contact with a recently treated dog as even this can lead to sufficient exposure to cause toxicity and death in cats.