Once a problem of the past, bed bugs have made a strong comeback in recent years. Hanging with your feline friend should make you feel better, but worrying about the bugs on Fluffy only adds to the stress of infestation. Simple steps can help keep Fluffy healthy and bug free.
Bed Bugs and Fur
Bed bugs, unlike fleas or lice, do not make their nests on the bodies of living animals or humans; they shy away from sources of heat when they’re not feeding. The bugs prefer to live in cool, dark spaces such as the seams of a mattress or behind a headboard, so it's unlikely that Fluffy's' fur would be infested. Bed bugs will head toward a human or mammal with very little fur as their first pick for a meal and only bother with burrowing through your furry friend's coat if they have no other choice.
Even without being infested, your cat can spread bed bugs to other rooms if she sleeps in your bed, pick ups a bug and and moves to another room. You can carefully brush or flea comb your cat, watching for any signs of the bugs or bites. If she isn't scratching excessively and no bugs or bites (which will appear as small pink spots or welts on the skin) are visible, you can skip putting Fluffy through the stress of a bath. If bites are present, consult your veterinarian for treatment options; over-the-counter bed bug shampoos meant for dogs may be harmful to cats.
Beds and Toys
Because bed bugs are small and easily spread throughout a home, treat your pet’s bedding and toys in a similar manner to your own bedding. Bed bugs are killed by heat temperatures above 120 degrees, so wash pet beds and soft toys on the hottest wash settings, and dry at high heat for at least 20 minutes. Cat trees or toys unable to be machine washed can be sprayed with isopropyl alcohol, which will kill both adult bugs and eggs upon contact.
Safety and Treatment
When bed bugs invade, call the pros. Most homes will require professional spray or heat treatments to get rid of an infestation. To keep Fluffy safe, you will need to remove her from your home during treatment. With a spray treatment, it is safest to wait until the spray has dried completely before allowing your cat to roam freely; wet residue might be transferred to a cat’s fur and accidentally ingested during grooming. Consult with your pest control company to find out how long to wait before reintroducing your feline friend to your home.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Margot Freeman has been a writer since 2009. She currently works in social media within the tech industry, and has been volunteering with acclaimed Austin, Texas animal shelter Austin Pets Alive! since 2010. Freeman holds a Bachelor of science in audio and media technology.