For some cats, fleas can be more than just an irritation. Here are four facts about fleas and why having a solid, year-round parasite prevention routine for your feline friend is a good idea.
1. You may not see fleas, even if they’re there!
It can be challenging to spot fleas on your pet, as in many cases, cats will vigorously groom themselves to remove fleas from their fur.
With heavier infestations, you may see signs of flea dirt (flea poo), which appears as black granular specks deep within your pet’s fur.
2. Some pets are allergic to flea bites
Whilst some cats with fleas may show minimal symptoms, other pets can develop significant skin problems due to a hypersensitivity reaction (allergy) to flea saliva, known as flea allergy dermatitis.
Cats with flea allergy dermatitis may show symptoms such as:
- Overgrooming (which may lead to bald patches), particularly around the lower back, belly or hindlimbs
- Itchy red bumps or scabs (particularly around their head and neck)
- Inflamed, painful allergic lesions in their mouth (known as eosinophilic granulomas) or on their lips (known as rodent ulcers)
3. Most fleas are in the environment, not on your pet
Any fleas seen on your pet usually represent only a tiny portion of the flea numbers within your pet’s home environment. Adult fleas lay eggs in your pet’s fur, then fall onto the ground and lie dormant for months, waiting for sufficiently warm, humid conditions to hatch. In a warm house, fleas can hatch and multiply year-round.
4. Fleas can cause other health issues
In addition to skin irritation, heavy flea infestations can also cause anaemia, particularly in very young or old pets, leading to symptoms such as lethargy, weakness and pale gums.
Fleas can also spread other infections, such as tapeworms.
If you notice any skin problems in your cat, book a prompt appointment with one of our soothing veterinarians!