Don't let your feline buddy suffer from fleas. The miniature blood suckers make kitties miserable with itchiness, and they can also cause dermatitis, tapeworms and even anemia. Your first option for flea eradication should always be a visit to a veterinarian. Some remedies are only available by prescription.
Looking for a safe, nontoxic remedy for Kitty's fleas? The simplest, but not the easiest, remedy is manual removal -- combing the fleas out. Take Kitty to an area where hopping fleas won't be an issue. A garage may do, or a bathroom with tiled floors. If nothing else, cover an area with paper, preferably white so the fleas will stand out against the background. Begin combing your feline pal around the neck and ears, and work your way down, checking the comb often for signs of fleas. They're those little black dots stuck between the teeth of the comb. If you dip the comb in water and swirl it around, the fleas will float off in the water, which you can flush. You'll need to repeat this procedure daily, because nothing will prevent the fleas out in the environment from claiming the newly created vacancies on Mr. Kitty.
Spot treatments make it far easier to rid your pal of fleas, but not necessarily better. Typically, you place a spot treatment on his back, and it's either absorbed into the bloodstream or it's wicked through the cat's coat. The chemicals in the spot treatment kill fleas, often in as little as 12 hours. You'll need a prescription for some treatments, while others are available over-the-counter. If you opt for the latter, read the ingredients carefully. Spot treatments that use pyrethroid as the active ingredient can be toxic, causing seizures, brain damage and even death for some kitties. Be careful to read all directions, and make sure you're using a product formulated specifically for cats. Consult your veterinarian to ensure the product won't harm Mr. Kitty.
Your veterinarian can prescribe medication in pill form, such as nitenpyram, to rid Kitty of the fleas. Unlike spot treatments, pills will kill fleas quickly, but won't break the flea life cycle -- fleas can still hatch from eggs and hop aboard your kitty. If you're dealing with an extra-itchy kitty with a bad infestation, pills may be the way to go. Be sure to discuss possible side effects with a veterinarian. While it's generally safe for kittens as young as four weeks old, in some cases, animals pant, groom themselves too much or become hyperactive.
Collars and Shampoos
Flea collars and flea shampoos remove the fleas from Kitty, but like spot treatments, they can contain troubling ingredients that can harm your cat. Pyrethroids and organophosphates such as tetrachlorvinphos are dangerous not only to your faithful feline, but to you and your family as well. According to the Humane Society of the United States, when cats groom themselves, they risk ingesting the chemicals that kill fleas. Because kitties don't have the necessary enzymes to break down and filter these chemicals from their systems, the result can be poisoning.
The best remedy for fleas? Stop infestations before they start. Keep your yard clean, grass mown and weeds pulled. Vacuum often -- daily, if possible -- to rid your carpet of fleas and their eggs. You'll also need to wash your cat's bedding.
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