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Dealing With Fleas and Your Cat


 

cat fleasOne of the biggest threats to your cats health comes in a small package. Fleas can cause FAD (flea allergy dermatitis), tapeworms, hair loss and even anemia. They can make both you and your pet miserable. Itchy, bumpy bites can lead to days of irritation. How can you tell if these pests are infesting your pet and your home? Run a damp cloth over your pet then hold it up and look at it. You are looking for small, dark spots called "flea dirt". "Flea dirt" is actually flea feces and is made up of digested blood that will turn a reddish brown when moistened by the damp towel.

 

Flea Control and Prevention Products

 
Prevention is the key to avoiding flea problems. Once you get fleas, you will struggle for months to contain and eliminate the infestation. Monthly topicals are a good method of prevention, but there are things you should know before choosing your flea medication. Most importantly, if a product says that it is "for dogs only" or contains more than 2% permethrin it may very likely be fatal for your cat and you should not use it on your feline. The FDA and EPA keep a list of flea medications that are currently approved and those that are recalled.
 
There are several flea control products for your cat. Monthly topicals such as Frontline. These are often most recommended by Vets and are considered safer than some other options. Sprays, dips and shampoos are also available, but these options may contain pyrethins, permethrins, or organophosphates which can be fatal for cats. There are safer and more effective products for your cat than these, but if you choose to use one, be sure to check the ingredients before using these on your cat. Collars are another option but these will not protect the whole of your cat, and many owners find their cats dislike flea collars as the chemicals can cause their eyes to water and affect their sense of smell. There are a host of oral medications that are ingested and release the poison through the skin and blood. Flea combs are also an effective way of clearing the eggs, dirt and bodies off a pet and they love the time spent being carefully groomed. Care should be taken before you make a decision on what the best product is for your cat. Do research and speak to your Veterinarian.
 
Flea Treatment
 
The flea has a life cycle of about 15 days, but in that time they can lay lots of flea eggs and begin a miserable infestation. The key to controlling fleas is prevention, but if  you fear you have an infestation here are somethings to do to get control once again.
 
1. Remove Fleas from the indoor environment: 
 
Begin by cleaning your house from top to bottom. Vacuum everything including drapes, beneath furniture and where your pet sleeps. Vacuuming is estimated to remove up to 50% of flea eggs. Every time you vacuum, seal and dispose of the bag immediately. Find a product for your home that will kill the remaining adult fleas and stop the development of eggs and flea larvae. This can be in the form of a powder, fogger or spray and should include both an adulticide and an IGR. Wash your pets bedding weekly and treat the bed and surrounding area with a product containing an adulticide and IGR. Clean and treat any other areas your pet spends large amounts of time in.

 

2. Remove fleas from the outdoor environment:


Treat your yard and kennel area with outdoor sprays, especially areas that are moist, warm and shady. Treat any areas where your pet is often found and follow the directions on the product carefully. You may need to treat every one to two weeks.

 

3. Remove fleas from pets:

 

When treating your pet remember that persistence is the key, especially if you had a large infestation to start with. It can take several months up to a year to completely kill off all the fleas in your home and on your pets. Remember that cold weather does not kill fleas!
 
If your pet has FAD, your goal should be to prevent bites by killing the fleas in as many life stages as possible and preventing them from returning. you will want an adulticide and something with an Insect Growth Regulator or Insect Development Inhibitor
 
IGR’s mimics the juvenile growth hormone of the fleas and prevents the flea from developing into a mature adult. When the juvenile fails to molt it will die.
 
IDI’s prevent the development of chitin which is necessary for adult fleas to develop
 
Once the infestation is cleared up do not become lax! Prevention is the key to keeping both you and your pets happy and flea free.

 

 

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