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Coping With Fleas (Cats)
“The flea, though he kill none, he does all the harm he can.”
- Devotions XII
GENERAL RULE: If you think you have fleas on your pet or in your home, you probably do. If you see one flea, you’ve seen the vanguard of an invasion. The time to act is now.
IDENTIFYING PROBLEMS AND ISSUES:
- Failure to act in a timely manner places your pet at risk for tapeworm and skin disease.
- A particularly bad infestation of fleas can lead to anemia and death in some kittens, as fleas feed on blood.
- At a minimum, all pets and most humans suffer from the biting and itching. Pets get bites all over. Humans first notice bites around the ankles.
- The key to a successful war with fleas is to treat both your pet and the living environment. Breaking the life cycle of the fleas will preclude further infestations.
- A cat and a small dog are not the same. Their physiologies and metabolic systems are vastly different. What might work on a small dog can kill a cat.
SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
Let’s begin with debunking these myths:
- Garlic will keep fleas off. There is no scientific evidence that garlic has any affect whatsoever.
- Onions repel fleas. Ditto, plus too many onions in food can be toxic to pets.
- Brewer’s Yeast in food will work to keep fleas at bay. Wrong.
There is no evidence that brewer’s yeast helps at all.
- Frequent vacuuming kills fleas. Not quite. It may reduce their number temporarily, but only if you dispose of the bag outside the house immediately after use.
What legitimate options are helpful? (Consult with your veterinarian before choosing one of the following)
(♦ poor - ♦♦♦♦♦ best)
- Flea Collars – ♦♦♦ for cats and dogs under 20 pounds.
- Flea Combs – get a glass or bowl with soapy water ready then comb gently through the fur. When you see a flea caught in the comb, dip the comb into the water to kill the flea – ♦♦ for cats and ♦ for dogs. Only as good as they are regularly used. Doesn’t treat environment.
- Flea Shampoos – ♦♦♦used in conjunction with collars or dips this technique works pretty well. Pets will not be overly cooperative.
- Flea Dips – ♦♦♦ requires sponging onto the pet, rather than actual dipping. Make sure to thoroughly wet pet (take care around eyes) and do not dry pet. Follow printed instructions! P.S. Pets will not be overly cooperative on this one either.
- Flea Powders – ♦♦♦ pretty good if worked into the pet’s coat. Must repeat fairly often (follow written instructions). Also, treat pet’s bedding. Caution: pets with respiratory problems should not be treated with powders. Can be messy.
- Foggers – ♦♦♦♦ aerosol bombs are very good for treating the pet’s and your living environment. All people and pets (put a cover over the goldfish) must leave the house during treatment. Follow written instructions on the box.
- Spot on Products – ♦♦ to ♦♦♦♦♦ depending on type chosen. Talk to your veterinarian first. These usually are applied from a small vial to the back of the neck, base of the skull or between the pet’s shoulder blades and usually last in their effectiveness for up to a month. They can be expensive, but are generally well worth the cost. CAUTION: Many “spot on products” used for dogs will, if used accidentally on cats, prove fatal. If this happens, wash the area with soap and water and seek immediate treatment from your veterinarian. Read and follow the written instructions.
The benefits of having a loving pet in your family far outweigh any concern you might have about fleas. Having a pet, however, is making a long-time commitment to keeping your pet healthy and comfortable. Having a pet, particularly one that is allowed to go outdoors, always brings a chance for flea infestation. Keeping your pet indoors will reduces their exposure, but most people take or let their pets outside at one time or another. The key is to periodically check your pet for fleas and watch their behavior. If they are frequently biting into their fur and scratching you may have a problem, but one that can be easily addressed.
Before you begin any flea treatment, talk with your veterinarian and ask recommendations as to the best treatment for your pet and its environment (both must be treated to be successful), and more than one treatment may be recommended. Many pet owners have been particularly pleased with “spot on” products as a comprehensive answer to their concerns. The success of these products is in their chemical structure and strength. Great care must be exercised to follow instructions and never, never treat a cat with a dog product.
With proper prevention and treatment for your pet, you can have a happy and flea free home!