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Sinking Your Claws Into Cat Fleas

Updated on November 29, 2010

Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), one of the most feared insects to cat owners, and is also know as one of the most prolific world-wide insects. It not only is responsible for many a cat infestation, but the majority of dogs as well with flea infestation have this insect to blame as the culprit. It has been making people's skin crawl for as long as there have been people, and is an evolutionary marvel. Let's take a look at this particular insect, and what to do if it pays you a visit.

A Flea's Life

To understand about cat fleas, it is imperative to understand the life cycle of the flea itself. A female flea will deposit her eggs on the host animal it has chosen. Cat flea eggs have developed a special adaptation to this beginning of life, once they have dried they are easily shook from the animals fur, and may be deposited in sleeping areas or places the animal travels. One could say these fleas know how to get around. Once the egg has found it's home, it begins development into the larval stage of its life, and begins to feed on dried blood and flea excrement. Once the larvae has eaten, it is a very short amount of time before it envelopes itself into a cocoon, and begins its pupal stage of life. This stage can vary widely due to conditions and environment, meaning the flea will normally hatch out when it is under optimum conditions. Once it hatches, it begins the adult stage of life and its quest for a new host, as well as having a voracious appetite, is almost immediate. An adult flea has the capability of laying up to 50 eggs a day, and a large army of cat fleas can mobilize within a week. That army, coupled with a thirst for mammalian blood, particularly cats and dogs, can cause problems to an animal fairly quickly.

Some Of The Problems Associated With Fleas

Fleas have been known to kill animals if left untreated in a prolific infestation. An infestation can easily bring anemia to the animal, and has been known to successfully kill many kittens. If the animal is surviving the onslaught, the flea has other methods of harming the host. Fleas carry tapeworms, and a flea infestation treatment and deworming need to be a synonymous effort. The worst thing though these insects bring in their arsenal is haemobartonellosis, a more severe version of anemia caused by some of the microbes the flea carries. Of course, if disease isn't enough, they are extremely annoying to both pet and human alike, and though they don't infest humans, taking a bite out of one is an entirely different matter. The bite itches severely, and multiple bites can cause acute skin irritation and even dermatitis. Animals may lose fur over increased itching, and have been known to scratch themselves literally raw, presenting new problems from the fleas indirectly. Loss of fur and irritation lead to unsightly animals, and infections can present themselves in open wounds.

How To Treat Cat Flea Infestation

There are literally thousands of flea infestation products. In severe infestations professional pest control specialists may have to be called in. If the animal is greatly infested, it is advised to get the animal to your local veterinarian. Small infestations, however, can be treated effectively with many easily accessible products. Front-line is one of the more popular products used in flea control, and is quite effective. One must remember whatever the treatment, it must be abruptly began, as the flea life cycle must be hindered. With the capability to mass reproduce, it only takes a few fleas to repopulate an animal or home quickly, thus making vigorous application and attention to signs and removal a key. Once a handle has been achieved on the adult fleas, attention should then go to the bedding and environment of the animal. Be sure to treat the area, and to wash all bedding. Vacuuming daily and disposing of the bags also helps to quickly reduce the numbers. Steam clean after vacuuming, as flea eggs are very hard to pull out of carpet. If necessary, begin to bomb the room or home with one of the various foggers. Repeating these steps will help ensure the life chain of the flea remains broken. Animal infestation will also take a few repeats, and don't be surprised if the first couple flea baths turn out a few more insects. Flea combing also has it's merits, especially in animals with dark fur, as fleas are hard to see in darker then lighter furred animals. By combing the fur of the infested animal from the scalp out, it draws the fleas from the skin to the hair where they can be easily plucked free. The key to successful flea removal is vigilance.

Infestation Recurrence

Cat flea infestation can recur rather quickly. Even if the environment is totally devoid of fleas, a visiting animal can bring them back. Prevention here is key. Even though the infestation has ended, it is recommended to give the animal a flea bath on a regular schedule. This can be coupled with the use of a flea collar as well. It is important to note any change in the animal's behavior when using chemical flea control methods, and if noted, seek a veterinarian. There are various chemical preventative methods for your environment as well, and are perfectly eco-friendly cat supplements. Many applications will prevent cat fleas from returning, and they also work to give the owner a little peace of mind.

Fleas truly are remarkable survivors, and have evolved into some of the most prolific insects on our planet. They can be aggravating to rid your home and pet of, and are reproductively proficient. For more information on the fleas inhabiting your pets, visit: The main thing to remember is don't give up hope, flea infestation can be beaten, and all dog and cat owners will eventually be faced with this insect, because fleas get around.

                                         For more information on cat fleas, these websites may help:

            Home Remedies for Cat Fleas | Cat Flea Symptoms | Kitten Fleas | Cat Fleas on Humans


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