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Health Matters: Fleas
When you own a cat there are a variety of health issues that you should be aware of and known how to prevent and treat. One of the most common issues that can crop up are fleas.
These little parasites are known to cause discomfort to your cat and can be a little embarrassing as an owner, but it is a problem that you can not only look out for but also deal with quickly when those signs arise.
What are fleas?
There are other 2,200 types of fleas recognised and whilst these live on particular animals they all act and look similar.
An adult flea is tiny, wingless and brown. It can vary in size from one-eight of an inch down to the size of a pinhead.
The body of a flea is flat and has strong legs, ideal for propelling them into the air and giving them their most famous feature, their jump.
The mouth of a cat flea is made up of three sections which can pierce the skin and suck out the blood of their host.
How quickly can an infestation happen?
You may think that one or two fleas are not harmful to your cat. But the issue with fleas is that they can very quickly reproduce. Their life cycle lasts around a month (although this does depend on the temperature). During this life cycle the flea goes quickly from egg to larvae to pupa and then adult.
The adult females need to bite their host (or a passing human) in order to reproduce and once full of blood they can lay hundreds or thousands of eggs over the course of several weeks or months and is thought one female can be responsible for 20,000 new adult fleas in just 60 days and shows how an infestation can seem to happen in the blink of an eye.
What are the signs of a fleas living on your cat?
One of the biggest signs that there are fleas taking residence on the fur of your cat will be the cat itching and scratching more than normal. You may also see the dirt of fleas left in places where you cat has been led.
These look like tiny black flecks and can also be found in the fur of your pet.
Another sign that you may have fleas in your home is whether you (or other members of your family) have experienced unexplained bites or welts on the skin.
What problems can fleas cause?
At its most minor, fleas can make your cat feel uncomfortable and itchy. At its worst it can cause deadly diseases for them. The bites that they leave are incredibly itchy and for cats that are hypersensitive they are more likely to scratch the bits and infect the open wound.
It isn’t just the open wound that can cause a problem. Fleas themselves can carry a variety of bacteria and even tapeworms which can even be passed to be people.
Kittens are at a particular risk when it comes to flea infestations. With multiple fleas feeding from them, these small kitties are more likely to suffer with anaemia.
How can I get rid of them?
Knowing that fleas can cause an issue for you and your cat you might want to know how is the best way to get rid of them.
There are a variety of sprays, powders, tablets and spot on treatments that you can use to treat the fleas that are on your cat. But the best way to treat and protect against fleas is to keep on top of the protection against them.
If you find that you have fleas in your home, then it is vital that you treat this too. Spray any bedding or cushions that your cat uses or sleeps on and make sure that you hoover the property as a whole.
Doing this should remove not only the adult fleas but also those that are in other stages of their life cycle too and keep your cat healthy and feeling great!