Can Indoor Cats Get Fleas?

Published Categorized as About Fleas

Choosing a pet really can be the hardest decision in the world. There are so many factors to consider. Do I have time to walk a dog? Am I happy with an outdoor cat that I may not see? Can I handle the size of a dog? Can I handle my cat bringing in dead animals?

A solution that many of us turn to is an indoor cat. Yes, this means a lot of litter tray training, but it also means that your pet is going to be one of the cleanest, and easiest to maintain, of all pets.

Another bonus, no fleas? Wrong. Many people believe that an indoor cat can’t possibly catch fleas if they spend so little time outside or around other fleas. However, this is simply a myth.

If you have been unlucky enough to catch a pesky little flea on your indoor cat, don’t worry too much! Today I am going to tell you why this has happened, how you can resolve it, and how you can prevent it from happening again!

cat inside

How to Tell if my Cat has Fleas

If you have not spotted a flea, this does not mean that your cat does not have fleas.

There are a number of symptoms that will help to indicate whether your cat has fleas.

  • Itching and scratching
  • Red and raw patches on skin
  • Biting
  • Flea dirt
  • Small bumps

If your cat is displaying ay of the above, it is likely that they have fleas, or potentially an allergy.

You can test further for fleas by inspecting their fur. Also by bathing them and combing them. If you spot flea dirt in the fur, or if the bath water turns red from the flea dirt, this is a good indication that your cat has fleas.

Why Does My Indoor Cat Have Fleas?

Fleas are what we call an ‘external parasite’. This means that they complete their life cycle on the external side of a host. In simple terms, a flea survives by living on the outside of your pet. This can be anything, from dogs to cats, rabbits to guinea pigs!

Luckily, fleas don’t live on humans. We can transfer fleas, but we don’t have enough fur for them to survive. Whilst this is great, it doesn’t help explain how our indoor pets end up contracting a flea infestation. 

Hitchhiker Flea

The most common case of your indoor cat catching fleas is through the ‘hitchhiker flea’ process’. This is exactly what it says on the tin – the flea has used another body to hitchhike its way to the ideal host. In this case, that host is your perfectly groomed, clean, indoor cat.

two cats

In most instances, the most obvious way that your indoor cat has ended up with fleas is by catching them on their short trip outside. Particularly in spring and summer, fleas can live in all kinds of places. Even if your cat remains in eyesight, this does not mean they are not collecting a family of fleas from the back yard or during their 5 minute encounter with the neighbor’s cat. 

If you have other pets, particularly dogs, it may be the case that the flea has hitchhiked its way from one animal to another until it has found its desired host.

Similarly, if you, or any of your family or friends, have been around an animal that may have fleas, these fleas can latch on to human clothing and use you as a ride until you get home, cuddle your cat, and there we go, your cat is now the perfect host. 

If one female flea finds its way to your cat, all it takes is a little bite, laying her eggs, and then what was originally one flea will quickly turn into many within a week.

Do Fleas Mean My Cat Is Dirty?

Many of us associate fleas with an unclean pet, but also an unclean house. As the above process demonstrates, fleas can enter a household with absolutely no fault of our own.

Many people jump to fumigating their house, but this is not always necessary. Fleas require a host to complete their cycle and once they are unable to do so they will die.

This means that although your cat may have some signs of fleas, it does not mean that the fleas have infested your home and it may be the case that you have caught the fleas early enough for them to be unable to lay eggs and spread. If this is the case, your cat will stop itching from both fleas and flea dirt.

How To Prevent Fleas From Completing Their Cycle

The best way to do this is to contact your vet. They will be able to prescribe the correct treatment for you to tackle those fleas before they have a chance to multiply. 

This will require a few thorough steps, and it is important you follow these correctly to get the best results.

Further to this, keeping a clean house and vacuuming regularly will help to prevent fleas from multiplying if one does happen to enter your home. Washing any beds that your cat regularly uses and grooming your cat are fantastic ways of staying on top of things.

Finally, there are a number of collars and sprays that you can use to help prevent fleas from settling down on your kitty and using them as a host. 

cat indoors staring out

Flea Treatments

Most flea treatments work in the same way. They interrupt the flea life cycle at a point that does not allow her to lay her eggs. Alternatively, if the eggs have already been laid, the treatments will kill the larvae before they have time to hatch.

This means that any living fleas will be killed, but also any potential fleas will also be killed off.

When completing the treatment, also clean around the areas your cat has been relaxing. If there are multiple fleas, some of them may have dropped off into your home and so getting rid of these is the best way to prevent the infestation from returning to your pet.

Can Indoor Cats Get Fleas – Final Thoughts

Finding fleas on your pet can be disturbing and stressful, but try not to worry too much, it is very common. Whilst many people expect their indoor cat to be safe from fleas, it is more than normal for any furry pet to contract fleas, whether or not they have been exposed to the outside world.

This can be due to a number of reasons, you yourself may actually be the cause!

There are a number of ways to tackle fleas, but if you do struggle, speak to your vet.

This advice applies to any of your furry friends. Whether it be a dog, a hamster, any pet that is suffering from fleas will follow these same steps. It may be trickier with certain animals, such as dogs or outdoor cats. These animals socialize and explore a lot more.

However, with you happy little home kitty, following the simple steps for prevention should be enough to keep them safe and sound and perfect for evening cat cuddles!


How can you tell if your cat has fleas?

There are a number of symptoms to suggest your cat has fleas such as itching, red patches, scabbing, biting.

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