How to protect your cat from fleas

Fleas are small (about 2mm long), but extremely mighty. If your cat catches fleas, it can cause a host of different side effects and a lot of discomfort for your feline friend.

Any cat owner knows that cats are curious and mischievous, and it’s almost impossible to stop them from running around the streets and gardens of our neighbourhoods finding interesting ways to occupy their time. 

There are many species of flea, but the most common type found in household felines is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis).

While we can’t stop them coming into contact with fleas, there are plenty of ways to prevent cats from catching fleas – without wrapping them in bubble wrap and keeping them indoors!

How do cats catch fleas?

From hatching on and jumping from one animal to another, to picking up fleas from infested carpets, there are plenty of situations that can give rise to your cat getting fleas.

Fleas may pass between cats or other animals, and fleas larvae can survive in soft furnishings – especially carpets – and warm weather. It can be difficult to get to the root of the source given that cats are often out and about and most likely to get fleas from outside the home, but the trick is to get rid of fleas from your cat as soon as possible.

If your cat has fleas, the bites can be quite uncomfortable and itchy. A number of additional issues can also present themselves should your feline friend catch fleas.

  • Young or frail cats can become weak or, in severe cases, die from the loss of blood caused by feeding fleas
  • Flea larvae can become infected and pass on tapeworms to animals, so be sure to treat your cat with worm treatments if they catch fleas to avoid additional problems 
  • Some animals may have an allergic reaction if they are hypersensitive to flea saliva. 

Signs your cat might have fleas

It’s not uncommon for pet owners to be unaware that their animals have fleas – they can be difficult to spot! There are few things you should look out for that could mean they’ve got them, including:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Dark specs in the fur 
  • Little insects running around on the skin or fur
  • Redness and irritation
  • Hair loss, sore patches and baldness.

If your cat displays any of these, it’s worth grooming your cat with a fine-tooth comb over a white surface – perhaps a piece of paper or unused towel – to catch any fleas or droppings. 

A good trick to check for fleas where the insects don’t fall from fur but droppings do, is to add a drop or two of water to the droppings. If they turn reddish-brown, it’s likely your pet has fleas. 

If you’re still unsure, speak to your vet for more advice. 

The best cat flea treatments

Prevention is always the best way to avoid a flea infestation for your cat. Of course, it’s not always possible to 100% prevent your cat from getting fleas. 

There are a variety of cat flea treatments you can use to protect your cat, including internal, external and household treatments. These work in different ways by interrupting different stages of the fleas’ life cycle and can be broadly classified as:

  • Treatments that inhibit developmental stages and/or kill the flea on the host:
    • Spot-On
    • Oral tablets
    • Flea Collars
    • Shampoos
    • Injections
  • Treatments that inhibit developmental stages and/or kill any fleas in the environment
    • Sprays
    • Carpet flea powder

Phil’s top tip:

  • Groom your cat regularly, even if they have short hair, to keep their fur clean and prevent matting. You’ll also spot fleas much quicker.

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