Cats get fleas. That shouldn't be a surprise to you.
You can keep the cleanest house, with the cleanest house cat ever but, unless you treat your feline accordingly, he or she will eventually pick up a flea or two. Or dozens. The problem is that, whilst your cat may be an indoor cat, you are unlikely to be an indoor person and nor is your house hermetically sealed against invaders of all kinds.
Even with air conditioned homes, there is always a temptation to open a window, just a crack, to let a little fresh air blow through, and fleas are incredibly resourceful at getting through the tiniest gap. At that point, it’s only a matter of time before puss is scratching at an alarming rate. But, before you go welding all the windows shut, you should probably know that a slightly open window doesn’t even come close to the biggest transporter of fleas. That’s you, in case you haven’t twigged yet.
Take a nice stroll across a lawn or a woodland, and there’s a good chance you’ll pick up a flea to take home. And that’s all it takes, a single female flea. Once in the house, it will find your cat quicker than you ever can and, a single bite later, the flea will be ready to lay potentially thousands of eggs, all of which will hatch in about a week. Imagine, then, what the chances of an outdoor cat picking up fleas is. Most of the time, the cat will just wander around in prime flea territory, and then just lie down waiting to pick up a ton of freeriders. And yet, despite all this, flea control is relatively simple and, as with anything, prevention is tons better than cure.
Flea infestations happen with a fair degree of regularity, but they aren’t all about your cat, they’re also about you. Fleas, despite often being species-specific, will bite anything, including any handy human. If you’ve ever got home from work and discovered bites on your ankles, chances are your office carpet has fleas. It’s unlikely you have an office cat or dog, so you’re the only meal the fleas can look forward to, and it’s a similar story in your home. If the cat isn’t about, as far as the fleas are concerned you’ll look like a pie to a drunk footie fan
But it’s not just about picking the first treatment you see in your local pet store, slapping it on a wriggling moggie and hoping for the best, there’s a little more to it than that.
When selecting a flea treatment for your cat there are a ton of options available and a ton of factors to consider. Most importantly is the flea treatment safe for your feline? And secondly how effective is the treatment? Available over the counter to cat owners are tablets that can be given orally, traditional flea collars, and spot-ons.
Not all cat flea treatments work the same. Let's explore a few common flea treatment ingredients and how they function.Insecticides are used on the skin or on the fur and will eliminate fleas by affecting the flea’s nervous system. This ingredient is found in many flea treatments for cats.
Insect growth regulators (IGRs) are another available option. IGRs prohibit fleas from developing and laying more eggs by inhibiting the flea’s growth hormones. IGRs can be found in collars and sprays.
Another choice is an insecticide synergist. This ingredient actually works hand in hand with insecticides to help them perform even faster. It's typically found in powders that are put on the cat or can even be sprinkled around the home to help control fleas.
It is important to note most insecticides can have side effects if they are used improperly so it is very important to use flea treatments as instructed in order to avoid any adverse affects on your cat.
Also be sure to keep an eye out for ingredients that are questionable in regards to your cat’s health or yours:
· Pyrethrins: cats are more sensitive to pyrethrins because they can’t metabolize it and as a result are susceptible to overexposure
· Tetrachlorvinphos: This ingredient has been found to have side effects on humans including headaches, confusion, and nausea
· Pyrethroids: humans exposed to this ingredient can experience numbness, itching, burning, stinging
· Propoxur: propoxur exposure can lead to carbamate poisoning
· Selamectin: this ingredient transfers to humans easily
In terms of selecting a treatment that is the best fit will depend on what treatment your cat needs. If you are looking for an option to control fleas alone an oral tablet may be the right fit. Many oral treatments only kill off fleas. This tends to be the quickest option in terms of eliminating a flea infestation.
If you are looking to prevention your cat from fleas, ticks, mites, and other insects a spot on treatment may be the right fit. Spot-on treatments work best for various pest because they have insecticides in them as well as growth restrictors. Even though ticks don't attach to cats often, it's still important to provide protection against them so that your cat doesn't fall prey to any disease that ticks might carry.
Whether your cat is an outdoor cat or an indoor companion it is important to protect them from fleas. As always, please be sure to consult with your veterinarian when deciding on a flea treatment for your cat!
The purrfect dose of information for owners and vet professionals, committed to the wellbeing and longevity of your cats!