It starts off slowly and without any warning. One day you see your cat scratching its neck, but don’t think anything of it. A few days later, it happens again – only this time, your cat is scratching constantly. You investigate further, and realize that those little crusty black specks on your cat’s neck aren’t scabs – they are “flea dirt.” Put into layman’s terms, they are the remnants of fleas as they reproduce on your cat’s skin. Sound horrifying? It is, especially when you start finding itchy flea bites on your legs and ankles. This is a sure sign that it is time to do something about your flea infestation. Don’t worry; fleas can be killed through a little elbow grease and vigilance.
Determining that your cat has fleas
The first step involved in killing fleas is realizing that your cat has them in the first place. Itching and scratching (especially one part of their bodies) is the first sign. The next lies in combing through your pet’s fur looking for both “flea dirt” (as described above) and tiny white flea eggs. Even if your cat doesn’t go outside, he or she can pick up fleas fairly easily. They can come in on your pant legs, attached to a pet that goes outdoors frequently, like a dog, or on the shoes and socks of a friend or relative who has pets.
Medications to Kill Fleas
After you’ve determined that you have fleas, it’s time to go about killing them. Start off with your cat, as well as any other furry friends living in your house. You can either take your pets to the veterinarian for a dosage of prescription-strength flea killer, or you can purchase a product like Advantage II, Frontline Plus or Revolution. These over-the-counter medications have to be applied directly to your cat; squeeze the little tube of flea killer between your cat’s shoulder blades, or follow the instructions that came in the packaging. Each of these medications will stay on your pet for a period of time, usually for a month or two, and will have to be reapplied when necessary. They kill all of the live fleas on your cat, plus any eggs. However, this is just the first step.
Removing Fleas from Your House
Once your pets have been dosed with flea-killing medication, it’s time to take the next step: ridding your house of fleas. They can jump off of your cat and take up residence in your carpeting, bedding and furniture, much like bed bugs, only easier to kill. Vacuum your floors thoroughly, plus any upholstered furniture, cat trees and cat beds. A flea fogger will do a number on any fleas that have managed to avoid the vacuum, but in most cases, you, as well as your pets, will have to vacate your house for a period of time to avoid being accidentally poisoned by it. If you go this route, make sure that the fogger you use kills flea eggs, not just the live parasites. You can also use a safe pet spray from a pet supply store that will kill both fleas and their eggs, but is safe and non-toxic for your cats and other pets.
Killing fleas is a multi-step process, but it must be done to rid your house of the little itch-causing parasites. On top of making you miserable; they can also spread diseases and cause your cat to develop skin problems that only a veterinarian can treat. It’s much easier to deal with fleas before they have a chance to spread.