My Cat Has Fleas!
For such tiny insects, cat fleas can inflict a horrendous amount of physical and emotional distress upon you and upon your feline. Just when you think you've got an infestation under control, a whole new generation rises up ready to feed.
Cats usually get fleas when they go outdoors, but even indoor cats can be vulnerable. All it takes is a flea hitching a ride on the owner's Reeboks. The cat rubs its head against the shoe in greeting…and there you are, dealing with a plague of cat fleas.
How Will I Know?
If you're cat has fleas, it won't be a secret for long. Watch kitty for excessive scratching. If you do notice your cat scratching a lot, purchase a flea comb (available at any pet store), place your pet on a light colored towel, and gently comb his or her fur. You may see the fleas themselves, but chances are what you will see is black dots on the comb and towel. This is flea excrement--i.e., cat flea poop.
I Saw The Black Dots. Now What?
First you have to know your enemy and that means a quick lesson on the flea life cycle. A mature female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. Most of these eggs will go on your cat, others will go on your cat's favorite places to sleep and eat. When the eggs hatch, the larvae survive by eating the adult flea's feces. After about a week, the larvae cocoon themselves into pupae. A week later the pupae come out of their cocoons as adult fleas, ready to start the whole cycle over.
To cure your cat of fleas, you must not only kill all the adults, but also all of the eggs, larvae, and pupae. To be effective, you must carry out your campaign of destruction all at once.
Killing The Adult Fleas
The quickest way to accomplish this is to take kitty to the vet for a flea dip. While you're there, ask your vet to recommend products to destroy the flea eggs. Also ask your vet about cat flea prevention so you don't have to go through the same thing again next year.
Killing The Eggs, Larvae, Pupae
While your cat is at the vet being dipped, it's time to take on the flea babies. Wash and vacuum your cat's bedding (if your cat sleeps on the bed, wash your own bedding, too, as well as any pile of clothes your cat has slept on). Vacuum or steam clean all the carpets in your home. Make sure you cover the entire area of carpet, especially the parts around the floor boards. Take the vacuum bag out to the trash immediately so fleas do not start to breed inside it. Finally, release an insect bomb (or several) in your home. Ask your vet for a recommendation and follow the instructions exactly.
If you follow these instructions, your cat should be free of fleas in short order, but put him or her on a prevention program recommended by your vet. One flea annihilation per cat is more than enough.