Fleas in Cat: Know your Enemy
Despite numerous technological advances, fleas continue to represent a potentially lethal plague upon our pets. Current products are effective so there is little reason for this; the problem seems to be one of understanding.
There are over 1900 flea species in the world. Pet owners are concerned with only one: Ctenocephalides felis, the cat flea. This is the flea that we find on our pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, and other species) in 99.9% of cases and in order to understand how to control the damage caused by this tiny little animal, you should learn all you can about it.
What Kind of Damage Can Fleas Cause?
It would be a grave mistake to think of the flea as simply a nuisance. A heavy flea burden is lethal, especially to smaller or younger animals. The cat flea is not at all selective about its host and has been known to kill dairy calves through heavy infestation. Conditions brought about via flea infestation include:
• Flea Allergic Dermatitis (fleas do not make animals itchy unless there a flea bite allergy)
• Flea Anemia
• Feline Infectious Anemia (a life-threatening blood parasite carried by fleas)
• Cat Scratch Fever/Bartonellosis (does not make the cat sick but the infected cat can make a person sick)
• Common Tapeworm infection (not harmful but cosmetically unappealing)
Visit "FLEAS, TICKS, WORMS, AND INTESTINAL PARASITE PREVENTION" for more info.
Myths Veterinarians Hear Nearly Every Day
• My cat cannot have fleas because he lives entirely indoors.
Fleas thrive particularly well in the well-regulated temperatures in the home.
• My cat cannot have fleas because if there were any fleas they would be biting (insert name of a person in the family reportedly sensitive to flea bites). Since this person is not being bitten, there must not be any fleas.
Despite Ctenocephalides felis’ ability to feed of a wide variety of hosts, this flea definitely does not prefer human blood and won’t eat it unless absolutely necessary. A newly emerged adult flea is hungry and may well take a blood meal from the first warm body it finds. An adult flea knocked off its normal host will also be desperate to find a new host and may feed on the nearest warm body it can find. In general, adult fleas regard human blood as a last choice and humans tend not to be bitten unless flea population numbers are high.
• We do not have fleas because we have only hard wood floors.
Fleas love to develop in the cracks between the boards of hard wood floors.
• My cat cannot have fleas because I would see them.
You cannot expect to see fleas as many animals are adept at licking them away. Sometimes all that is seen is the characteristic skin disease.
Fleas are adaptive and their life cycle is always active: eggs are laid, larvae are developing, pupae are growing, etc. The environmental temperature controls how fast this occurs. If you want to eradicate the flea population in a specific home, it is best to attack when numbers are low in the winter. It is a mistake to stop flea control products in the winter as it will be much harder to gain the upper hand in the spring and summer when the populations are rising.
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