Fleas in cats
A disgusting insect, with flat sides and long legs, blood-sucking and incredibly bouncy – can you imagine that? Fleas are ubiquitous parasites that can live without food for several months and propagate extremely rapidly. Fleas in cats – is a real problem, because their painful bites can be dangerous to pets. How can you help your pet get rid of these parasites forever?
Why are fleas so dangerous?
Besides anxiety caused by flea-bites, fleas can cause many other troubles including:
- Allergies to flea saliva and feces;
- Bacterial and fungous dermatitis on the irritated skin;
- Chronic otitis caused by decomposition of flea feces;
- Inflammations of nose and eye mucous membranes because of bites and scratching;
- Helminthic invasion;
- In newborn kittens fleas (if there are plenty of them) may cause anemia in just a few days. Kittens weaken and lose appetite, their body temperature decreases. Without treatment the litter will die;
- Feline infectious anemia caused by mycoplasmas which get into the cat’s blood together with flea saliva. Without treatment the animal can die;
- Tularemia, caused by the Francisella tularensis bacterium. Bacteria get into the blood through the skin areas damaged by flea bites, settling and propagating in the blood cells, tissues of internal organs and lymph nodes. Without treatment it will lead to general intoxication, fever and death.
It is unwise to ignore these blood-sucking parasites, considering that small insects bring no serious harm. It’s easy to imagine how a flea looks like: this bouncy little parasite is almost black, with long legs and flat body. But it’s not that easy to find an adult insect. Fleas are extremely mobile and easily frightened, and in any dangerous situation they hide in the cat’s coat or bounce away from the victim. It is much easier to see the traces of their stay: dark particles similar to pepper – droplets of dried blood and feces, and small particles resembling grains of sand – their eggs. Inspect the areas around the neck, waist, and ears blowing on the coat or combing it to be able to see the skin.
There are lots of flea types that parasitize on different animal species and humans. Nevertheless, the remedy against cat fleas is effective against any type of fleas.
How to get rid of fleas?
Fleas don’t have to stick to cats all the time like biting lice, for example. These parasites can live in the cracks of the floor, in the room corners or other secluded places behind wardrobes and other furniture. Female fleas drop their eggs chaotically, without attaching them to the hair. In two weeks whitish worms hatch from these eggs, pupate and turn into mature insects. The parasite leaves the cocoon only when there is an animal nearby. Therefore, since it is necessary to get rid of fleas forever and not for a short period of time, it is important to carefully clean the room with special medications. If you don’t do that, fleas will appear again and again.
First of all you should thoroughly vacuum the floors, focusing on hard-to-reach places. Cat litter should be boiled or heavily sprayed with insecticide. Flooring and walls up to the height of at least half a meter should be treated with poison.
Selecting the medication for processing apartments you should carefully read the instructions. The drug should be safe not only for people, but for pets also.
The next step is getting rid of insects settled in your pet’s coat. If there are lots of them you should bathe the animal with a special shampoo. It is a soft solution that doesn’t kill but paralyzes the fleas, so after washing, you need to comb off the immobilized parasites using a fine toothed comb. You can do this right in the bathroom and wash the fleas in the sewer. While bathing the cat be sure that the shampoo didn’t get in the eyes of your pet, and take care the cat didn’t lick it. In three to five days (specified in the annotations to the shampoo) you need to use a preventive medication against fleas to get rid of the parasites left.
In case only one flea in noticed in the pet’s coat the owner can skip the washing stage and immediately use the preventive medication: collar, drops or spray against fleas.
What medication to choose?
Choosing the right “tool” in struggle against fleas you should consider the age and the general condition of the pet. Cheap drugs always contain chemicals that are dangerous for cat health. For example, permethrin, which is extremely toxic to cats, can be found among the ingredients of many cheap medications against fleas. A poisoned cat can survive only due to timely treatment in a vet clinic (stomach wash, droppers, and maintenance therapy). Among three hundred poisoned pets about one hundred dies.
However, great price isn’t an indicator of quality. For example, some flea collars (like «Beaphar») may contain diazinon – an organophosphorus pesticide registered long ago in 1953. Diazinon is neurotoxic; it irritates the respiratory system, skin and mucous membranes of eyes. Many poisons don’t act immediately but accumulate in the organism. Carefully read the information on the label – before using the medication you should be familiar with the safety precautions.
Antiparasitic shampoo against fleas in cats is a soft tool, designed for destructing a small number of insects. Such shampoos can be divided in two groups according to their composition: natural ones and those containing chemicals. The latter are suitable for mature animals only. Method of application: apply to the wet coat, foam and wait as specified in the instruction. After that wash the shampoo off. The drawback of using shampoos is that it’s impossible to wash it off completely – it means the cat would definitely swallow it. Many shampoos may cause dermatitis. However, natural shampoo “Doctor Zoo” is the most harmless remedy against fleas in kittens, starting from three weeks of age. They usually contain only natural repellents: essential oils and plant extracts.
Most owners prefer using drops when fighting with fleas in their pets. They are simple in use: just open the blister, squeeze the contents on the cat’s skin in the withers area. As a rule, the drug destroys most species of blood-sucking parasites and repels them for 30 days, after which you need to repeat the procedure. The most common drawback: in case the drops contain low-quality components they may get in the bloodstream and accumulate in the body tissues. “Stronghold” drops can be used for kittens older than 6 weeks, and “Frontline” – from 8 weeks.
Spray is evenly applied to the cat’s coat. You should apply the medication in a well-ventilated room. Sprays are effective, but they are more suitable for dogs, as cats are trying to lick all the foreign liquids from their coat, and it can lead to poisoning. In addition, using a spray it is easy to exceed the dosage or to occasionally let the drug get in the cat's eyes.
The main advantage of the collar is that it works for several months. However, this is not the safest anti-parasitic agent, as the cat is literally inhaling the poison 24 h. Even the highest quality collar against fleas is unsafe for kittens because they are very sensitive to toxic substances. If you keep several pets, you shouldn’t use collars, because other cats can get seriously poisoned chewing or swallowing a part of the collar.
What to do if a newborn kitten got fleas?
Blood-sucking parasites are especially dangerous for newborn kittens. Bites annoy kids: kittens become restless, sleep and eat poorly and gradually weaken. If the flea infects a nursing kitten – the baby can die: a simple helminthic invasion leads to death from intoxication and obstruction in just a couple of weeks! The situation is complicated by the fact that there are no safe drugs for treating fleas in newborn kittens. Since ordinary methods don’t work, you should choose a roundabout way:
- change the cat’s bed and the cat house, and throw away the old ones;
- vacuum the room thoroughly;
- apply the drops against fleas to the mother-cat withers.
You shouldn’t use a collar for the mother-cat nursing kittens. Kids are playful and curious, and definitely will try to bite or to lick the collar that will certainly lead to serious poisoning.
Drops should have an umbrella effect to kill fleas in the room and not only on the animal. The medication should be safe for kittens and shouldn’t penetrate into the milk. We recommend “Stronghold” as it is safe for nursing cats and effectively terminates mature fleas and their worms in the apartment.
A few words about the “Frontline” spray, which is positioned on the market as the safest medication against fleas in kittens. Read the information in the table below and keep in mind that cat-mothers are constantly “washing” their kittens licking them.
|Information from the manufacturer||Facts|
|A product of new generation||Fipronil was synthesized 26 years ago. It is an old drug that has many modern analogues.|
|Non-toxic||Symptoms of poisoning with fipronil: excess salivation, aggression, tremor, convulsions.|
|Safe for humans and animals||Fipronil hazard class – 2nd. Information on the package: keep away from children. No eating, smoking or drinking during the use of this drug. After use thoroughly wash your hand with soap.|
|Can be used for kittens up from 2 days old||Veterinarians don’t recommended using fipronil for treating kittens under two months.|
“Frontline” medication containing fipronil as the main component really works. It is an effective means of flea treatment and prevention, but it is dangerous for newborn kittens, chronically sick animals, weak and/or aging pets, pregnant and nursing cats.
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