Fleas are fascinating parasites and regardless of what we do, they tend to come back. After giving our cat proper flea treatment for a month we thought they are gone but there is no end as they keep coming back. We are in a battle against the fleas and to defeat an enemy you need to have a clear understanding of them. Basic understanding of how fleas live will help us in eliminating them and stop them from returning.
Fleas have 4 stages of development in their life cycle and are known as egg, larva, pupa and adult. Whenever we see fleas in cats it’s just like seeing the tip of the iceberg. Fleas are just a tip and there are eggs, larva and pupa lying around on both cat and environment. The breeding capacity of fleas are quite high and each female flea can lay around 50 eggs a day. In their lifetime they can lay around 2000 eggs and this is the level of problem we are up against.
Fleas like to breed in highly infested areas in cats so we need to give special attention to those areas. Even if we kill the fleas there will be a lot of eggs laying on the host. Also, there is a chance that the eggs may fall off from the cat and will deposit around the house. That’s why you needs to do environment treatment. To completely prevent flea attack you need to eliminate the adult fleas, remove their eggs (on both pet & environment ), stop larva and pupa from ever existing.
If we notice we can understand that the flea attacks are more seen in warmer conditions. This is because the fleas flourish in warm humid conditions. They are mostly seen in spring and summer season and you should take necessary precautions around these times. If the temperature is constantly below the freezing point then there is no need to worry as they can’t live in that temperature.
Fleas are small parasites and are about 2.5 mm size. They feed on blood from animals and humans. They are dangerous to the cat as well as their owner. Fleas don’t have wings and can’t fly but their strength is that they can jump 100 times their own size. They can cover a very long distance in their lifetime. Fleas can also spread various contagious diseases as they transmit harmful microorganisms from one body to another. Fleas like to live on pets than humans. If they didn’t get to feast on pets they will bite humans as last resort.
Now let’s look more about flea life cycle as it will be really helpful in fighting them. Flea eggs usually take around 10 days to hatch. If it’s warm and humid the hatching process will take very less time. Larvae are born and they will move towards darker areas of the house. Within 10 days the larvae pupate and a sticky cocoon will be formed around it. This cocoon will protect fleas and they can stay in cocoon form for years. Then it is a waiting period and when the ideal situation arises the fleas will come out of the cocoon. That’s why the fleas keep coming back.
Flea bites are dangerous to your cats. If you see just a couple of fleas then no need for worry but you should start the flea treatment immediately. Some cats will be allergic to flea bites and for those, it’s better you contact the veterinarian. It’s easy to identify flea bites as it will leave red pimples on your cat’s body. Fleas bites will cause an itchy feeling for your cat and there will be intense biting and scratching. There may be a lot of grooming. Hair loss is another common symptom and you could notice bald patches on cat’s body especially on the neck, back of legs, the base of the tail where the flea infestation is more. You could see uneasiness in the way the cat behave. Sucking of blood will reduce the blood cell count and causes lethargy, pale gums, muscle loss.
Most of the cat owners tend to use chemicals to eliminate fleas. The chemicals are really toxic to cats and it’s not a good idea to use it on them. There is a chance that the cat may lick it which can lead to his death. Prevention is always better than cure in the case of fleas.
Simple and thorough rinsing your cat with cool water is a way to expel fleas. It seems like an old fashioned thing but bathing your cat can eliminate most fleas. Unlike dogs cats don’t enjoy bathing and here are some tips to make him enjoy. Use tasty treats as rewards to cats for taking bath. Use sink and a non-slip bath mat in the bathtub so that your cat won’t freak out as a result of the slippery surface. Place some toys in the tub and let him play with them for some time. Make the cat used to the area before bathing him. You should slowly and gently rinse your cat. Drying his coat should be done with towels and using blow dryer may freak out your cat. Applying Apple cider vinegar during bath helps to control parasites such as fleas, bacteria, etc.
If you are having difficulties in bathing cat then try spraying him with water. You just need a spray bottle, Apple cider vinegar, shampoo. Fill the spray bottle with Apple cider vinegar and you can directly spray in the water to his coat. Gently apply the shampoo and after 5 minutes soothingly rinse it off. Since the cat is not standing on water it will be much easier. In both cases, it’s better to start from neck and works down to the tail. When you bath the cat the fleas will move up to his head and by starting from the neck you are making sure that they are not moving up to the head. You should leave the shampoo on the cat for some time.
Selecting shampoo is so important and you should avoid human shampoo as it contains chemicals which can be really severe for cats. Cat shampoos are available in a pet supply store or you can buy online. Choose the shampoo depending on your cat’s needs. Make sure you avoid shampoo which contains artificial dyes, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate and petrochemicals.
The flea comb can be used to repel fleas on cats. Flea comb consists of lemon and fleas hate the overwhelming spell of it. It’s easy to male a flea comb, it’s just a regular comb dipped in lemon juice. You just require a comb, 3 lemons and 3 cups of water. The teeth of the comb should be finely placed. Pour 3 cups of water into a pot. Chop the lemons and add it to the water. Boil the solution and after that kept it for 3 hours. Dip the comb into the solution and you can now start combing. Place a bowl containing soapy water near you during combing. Start combing from the head then slowly moving towards the tail. You should pay extra attention to the neck, stomach, area around the trump where the flea infestation is high. The fleas will be trapped inside the teeth of the comb and dip the comb in the soapy water. After dipping the comb in the lime solution repeat the above process.
So fleas in cats are eliminated but a lot of flea eggs will be lying all around the house. Next step is treating the environment and you should wash your cat’s bedding. Some pet owners tend to wash just the cover of the bed. It’s not enough as fleas will burrow down to the mattress or foam. You should not only wash cat’s bed but also everything your cat lies on and also his toys. Use hot water (above 60 °C) to wash everything. Thus, we can put an end to fleas, eggs, larvae, etc lying on toys, beds, etc.
You should vacuum every area your cat has come in contact with. It’s a good habit to vacuum your house daily as the flea eggs will be trapped inside the vacuum. Make sure you vacuum every nook, rugs, and carpets in your house. Fleas and their eggs will be trapped inside the vacuum bag and placing a mothball inside the bag will eliminate fleas and their eggs.
Floors and carpets can be cleaned using salt and baking soda. Both salt and baking soda can absorb moisture and thus we can use them as a drying agent. The lack of moisture will kill fleas and larvae. Sprinkle the salt or baking soda into the carpets and leave, it there for several hours. All the fleas and larvae will die out of thrust and will not reproduce.
Soapy water flea trap can be used to trap fleas in your home. They are attracted to light and we could take advantage of this. Place a very shallow dish soapy water at night under a desk lamp. They will gravitate towards light and warmth towards the dish. Fleas will hop into the water and will get drowned.
Cats, when compared to other pets, spend a lot of time outdoors. They like to roam outside the house and in the yard. The exposure to the fleas is high as they will be well established in the yard. Also, there is a chance of them getting the fleas other pets. It’s better to limit the outdoor exposure.
Make sure your yard is flea free. Stacked wood, piles of leaves and mounds of rocks act as an excellent breeding ground for fleas. So the yard should be free of debris so that fleas won’t congregate. Some herbal plants (lavender, eucalyptus, marigold ) helps to repel fleas from your yard. It’s better not to use any chemicals to eliminate fleas and instead you could use Food-grade diatomaceous. You can also use microscopic worms called nematodes. They feed on flea larvae and attack another pest too. Make sure that your lawn is dry as fleas prefer cool, moist, shady areas.
The long-term solution to fleas is improving your cat’s immunity. Cat’s first line of defense against fleas is healthy skin. You can improve the skin conditions by using certain organic ingredients. Apple cider vinegar will help in maintaining correct pH balance. You can add apple cider vinegar to cat’s food or spray it into their skin to fight off fleas. By adding vinegar oil to the drinking water will make the skin unpalatable to fleas. Too much vinegar should be limited as it is very acidic. Another oil you can use is coconut oil and by rubbing oil on your cat’s fur will improve the coat of the skin. Orange and lime contain citrus acid which can repel fleas. You can use freshly squeezed juices to rub onto the cat’s fur. Using the above ingredients we can improve the overall health of the skin and thus prevent fleas attacking our cat