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What cat fleas look like

Updated on September 18, 2007

Not so long ago, I was of a firm belief that mosquitoes were the worst pests imaginable. However, since our animal kingdom has grown from one dog to one dog and 3 cats, I have changed my mind. There is nothing worse then fleas. Spring and summer is the period when both fleas and ticks are in season and as they say it is good to know your enemy, here are some basic facts about fleas that should help you get to know these pesky little buggers and get rid of them once and for all.


Cat fleas (also going under the name Ctenocephalides felis) are tough little insects. While flea's primary host is your cat, they can without much trouble fester on your dog and other carnivores (although the general consensus is that even though humans can be bitten by fleas, fleas are not capable to maintain their life cycle on a human). A life span for a flea is between 6 to 12 months and in that period of time they can hatch virtually millions of offspring. Scary thought I know.

The female fleas will hatch their eggs on your cat or dog. The eggs can stay in your cat or dog's fur or they may infest the bedding or space where your pet sleeps. From eggs flea larvae will hatch. Larvae will feed on a number of organic substances, but their primary diet is dried blood that is left in the coat of your pet by the adult fleas as fecal material (now I am not squeamish by nature but this bit of information made me want to retch). The larvae will go through 3 stages of metamorphosis and then they will spin into a cocoon and enter their pupal stage. Now here is what makes the fleas so clever. Pupal stage can vary in length, meaning that young flea will not emerge until it detects a potential host. They have to detect warmth, carbon dioxide production or vibration. Once they detect one of these they will jump on a host and start feeding on a host's blood in a matter of minutes. If they do not detect a host, they will stay in their pupal stage.

How the fleas look like? Their size can be from 1.5 to 3.3 mms, most usually dark in color (on cat is reddish-brown color, while on dog the color is black). Fleas are wingless and their bodies are flattened on both sides, which makes it easy for them to move through your pet's hair. They have tube like mouthparts through which they draw blood from their primary host. Fleas also have long hind legs, which enables them to jump very high (it depends on the species of flea - from 18 cms vertically to 33 cms horizontally). Another thing that is good to note is that they have extra hard bodies, in all probability so they can survive scratching - that is way it is difficult to kill them unless you press on them really hard.

Your pets may have different reactions to flea bites, for some it may be a mild skin irritation, while in others it can manifest as flea allergy dermatitis in case they have an allergy to the fleas saliva. In some cases flea bites can even lead to anemia, especially if they infest puppies and kittens. Fleas are also carriers of tapeworms (look for small rice like specks in your pet's feces in case you are unsure if your pet has tapeworm).

Even though you might not see fleas it does not mean they are not there, the usual symptoms are constant scratching, scabs on your pet's skin or flea dirt (dark like specs that can be found on your pet's coat).


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      sum1 who needs help 6 years ago

      i don't no if my cat gott fleas i have seen little onee like 1 a dayyy does shee havee themmm pluss she gott kittensss wat shalll i dooo

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      Tony 6 years ago

      I think it is basically animal cruelty if people own pets but have no provision for vetinary care.

      If you can't take care of your pet, then you should not have one. Find it a new owner.

    • profile image

      Louise 7 years ago

      the article explained the answers to the questions asked...

    • profile image

      Melissa 7 years ago

      You don't know if your cat is male or female? Well look at the behind, if you see a fur covered sac, it's a BOY, if you don't it's a girl.

      Anyway, you can easily buy a flea collar, powder or shampoo at ANY store thesedays. You can also sprinkle borax on your carpets and furniture, leave it on for an hour then vacuum it off.

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      meandmybabies 7 years ago

      I have four children, I am getting child maintenance cannot afford to spend extra on my cat as I am already saving pennies to afford her food and little treats for our 1 year old cat. We do wish to take our cat to the vets, but I am afraid the quote for the cat is quite expensive. You would say save the pennies and take the cat there if you love the cat, well its not as easy as that, as the moment we save anything something comes upwith the school like trips etc and it goes straight for the kids. What easier way can we afford to have the cat checked, we don't even know if our cat is a he or she? We do everything we can to look after her, wash her every 2 months, clean her eyes with wipes clean plates with either fresh food or cat food. We call her Minnie, she looks like she really needs to be checked for fleas as we have come up with terrible bites on our skin, and have recently found little black looking bugs on our carpet, ite weird!!!! Please help!!

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      Tiffany 8 years ago

      My neighbors cat has some kind of bug on him. It was brown and small. What do you think it could be?

    • profile image

      response to stef 8 years ago

      Stef, use flea shampoo, and go to the damn vet. A checkup won't cost too much-- and it doesn't cost anything to ask a vet what tiny specks of black are.

      Just save up for it.

    • profile image

      stef 9 years ago

      i have a cat and she is only indoors (she freaks when she's outdoors) she has always been a scratcher and groomer (hairball heaven) anyway I always check for fleas just incase and usually i check her head, neck, tummy, back and just above the tail. I noticed everything seemed fine except above her tail. She seemes to have tiny winy specks of black. I tried to pick them out but couldn't and I rubbed a piece of white paper on her to see if any red blood came on from the flea's feces but nothing as well. I can't afford to take her to the vet so what if it's not fleas can I harm her by treating her for thme

    • profile image

      selena 9 years ago

      hi my name is selena how are u and another thing wat a u want to my sis name her name is nana. comment me. i love you cat's my sister loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove's caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat's love meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat's cat's looooooooove me. comment me cat

    • profile image

      selena 9 years ago

      hi my name is selena how are u and another thing wat a u want to my sis name her name is nana. comment me


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