Fleas, ticks and other parasites are often the bane of you and your cat’s existence. Stop your cat scratching through regular treatment.
Get rid of your cat’s parasites
Cats aren’t the only ones who suffer from fleas. For every single flea living on your cat, there could be hundreds more developing in your home!
Flea bites can lead some cats to develop allergies, whilst parasites can act as intermediate hosts for certain tapeworms. A heavy infestation can also cause anaemia, which is potentially life-threatening.
What are fleas?
Fleas are the most common external parasites for both cats and dogs. Adult fleas can live for seven to 14 days and will divide their time between living on your cat to feed and laying eggs on your carpet.
Females lay a large amount of eggs every day, which hatch into tiny larvae and burrow into carpets and upholstery. They then develop into pupae, remaining dormant for many months. When they sense warmth and vibration, the adult fleas emerge and jump onto your cat to start the life cycle again.
How do I spot fleas?
The most obvious sign is persistent scratching. Fleas are dark brown and about 1mm to 2mms long. You may find them – as well as tiny black specks of flea dirt – in your cat's coat during combing. High humidity and temperatures makes summer the peak season for fleas. Keep in mind though that you will still need to de-flea throughout the year.
Use a combination of topical products to kill adult fleas (adulticide) and an insect development inhibitor (or growth regulator) to prevent the eggs from developing into adults.
Oral suspensions are very effective and generally safe for both weaned kittens and pregnant cats, but check with your vet first. These involve a liquid dose containing an insect growth inhibitor, which is fed to your cat once a month. So, when a flea bites your cat, it ingests the compound and becomes sterilised, stopping the flea life cycle. This is an environmental control only and you may also need to use a topical insecticide before starting the treatment.
Drop-ons are more immediate and easily applied in liquid form to your cat's neck once a month, via a small pipette. The liquid spreads over the body surface, killing fleas before they can lay new eggs.
Other effective products include pumps and sprays. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using any anti-flea product and never use a dog product.
As flea eggs can survive for long periods in carpets and cracks between the floorboards, you’ll also need to treat your house.
Use a household flea spray, recommended by your vet, at least once a year. If you suffer an infestation, use your vacuum-cleaner to bring the eggs and immature fleas in your carpets and upholstery to the surface. Kill the fleas with a household spray so they stop hooking onto the carpet, and then re-vacuum. When you’re finished, spray the vacuum cleaner with flea spray and throw away any vacuum bags. If you don't spray the vacuum cleaner, you run the risk of redistributing the same flea eggs back onto the carpet through the exhaust of the vacuum next time you use it.
What are ticks?
Ticks are bloodsuckers that bury their mouthparts under a cat's skin. They have eight legs and can be black, brown, red or tan in colour. While only tiny – about the size of a pinhead – once they attach themselves to your cat, they can swell up to the size of a grape.
How do I spot ticks?
When engorged with blood, ticks look like small warts. You’ll usually find them around the head and neck areas – just part your cat's fur and run your fingers along the skin.
How do I treat ticks?
Ticks can be removed but you have to be very careful that they don't leave their mouthparts behind or your cat may have a nasty reaction. Ask your vet to show you how to remove them or use a flea product that works against ticks as well.
PURINA TOTAL CARE has a range of flea control products.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.