Your cat is part of your family, and just as you wouldn’t want your child to be riddled with head lice, so you wouldn’t want your cat to be tormented by fleas and other harmful pests. The summer months bring warmth and sunshine, which also encourage pests to breed. Protect your pet and keep your cat free of pests this summer with careful maintenance and treatments.
What harm can fleas and pests do?
Fleas and other pests are not only an annoyance to your cat but can also cause damage to his or her body. Fleas are the most common type of pest among cats. They cause extreme discomfort, and in some severe cases, fatal diseases. When a flea bites a cat’s skin, it causes the skin to itch and forces the cat to scratch. If a cat continues to scratch at an area of skin, it is likely that the skin will break. Any open wound or sore invites infection, not just from the fleas themselves but also from agents they carry on their bodies, such as tapeworms or bacteria. Some cats are also allergic to flea bites and react against flea saliva, which can cause skin problems resulting in scabs and bald patches.
The trouble doesn’t just start and end with a flea bite, however. Female fleas will also use the body of a cat to play host to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of eggs which will hatch into larvae and then being their maturation process to become fleas themselves, thus perpetuating the cycle.
Pre-emptive action against pests
The best way to protect your cat against catching fleas is to regularly use a flea treatment as a preventative measure. Flea treatments usually come in two delivery methods: tablet or liquid form. Unless your cat is good at taking tablets, the easiest application method for you is to use back-of-the-neck drops. Your cat will not like this procedure, perhaps because the liquid irritates his or her fur or is cold against the skin, but it is certainly less painful for both you and your cat than trying to get a tablet down his or her throat.
Also, if yours is an indoor cat and never goes outside, don’t be fooled into thinking he or she cannot catch fleas. You may pick up fleas on your clothing and in your hair when you visit neighbors, family, and friends who have outdoor cats that have picked up fleas.
Sterilize your environment
If preventative measures have proved ineffective and your cat has gotten fleas, then treating your cat with anti-flea products will not be enough to banish the problem. Fleas are excellent jumpers and can travel up to 7 feet. This means it is likely the soft furnishings of your home will be infected either with fleas or flea eggs. Your first step to clearing your home of fleas is to vacuum all carpets, sofa covers, cushions, bed linen, and curtains to suck up any eggs embedded in the fibers. Remember to clean out the cylinder of your vacuum after use to rid it of any fleas that have survived. Once vacuumed, spray your fabrics with a flea spray, ensuring that the room is sufficiently aired to avoid choking on the fumes. The best way to perform this cleansing process is to attack one room at a time.
If your cat has his or her own sleeping area, then this needs to be cleansed too. Put any bedding through your washing machine on a high temperature to kill off any fleas or pests in the fibers, and only let your cat use the bedding once they have themselves been treated, such as with a cleansing shampoo and by brushing their coat with a flea comb.
You should also protect your cat against other pests, such as worms and ticks. Wormers similar in method to flea treatments are commonly available. The flea treatment may also help to keep ticks at bay, but it is likely you will need to take other measures as well. Medicated cat shampoos will kill ticks on contact, but as any cat owner knows, it can be difficult, not to mention painful, to try and bathe a cat. An alternative to a bath for your cat is a tick dip, which is a concentrated chemical applied either to a cat’s fur with a sponge or that is poured over the body. This dip is not rinsed off, so your cat’s discomfort should be minimal, but such dips are potent and need to be used with care. Lastly, a tick collar can be used to provide extra protection against ticks, but these only work to keep the cat’s head and neck area clear. The tick collar is infused with chemicals and needs to be in contact with the cat’s neck to work, but it also needs to be loose enough to not harm the cat or make breathing difficult. This is a fine line to tread, and not all cats adapt to wearing a collar. Again, tick collars are powerful, so make sure you read the labels carefully before buying to ensure you purchase a collar suitable for your cat.
For outdoor cats, summer brings opportunities to explore their environment and enjoy the sunshine, but it also means they are more vulnerable to attack from microscopic pests. Keep your cat and your home clean and healthy by taking simple preventative measures to keep these nasty pests at bay.