Scruffy has fleas. You'll see them -- as well as the eggs -- on him if you look carefully in his fur. Feline flea eggs are light-colored and minuscule, easier to see on solid dark coats. Separate Scruff from his feline family at the first sign of itching to avoid an outbreak.
What They Look Like
Feline flea eggs are clearly visible on your four-legged friend's fur. The eggs are bright white, unlike those on dogs, and resemble miniature pieces of white rice under a microscope. They can be a little hard to detect if your furry family member is solid white, but if he has a pure black coat, you'll easily see the flea eggs. You might mistake flea eggs for excess dander or flaky skin. If you're not sure, take Scruffy to your veterinarian as a precaution; however, notify the office ahead of time that your cat may have fleas.
Flea Life Cycle
Female fleas lay between 20 and 50 eggs per day, so you'll surely notice eggs if Scruffy has several fleas in his coat. Eggs hatch rather quickly -- after two to five days. Once the larvae hatch, they crawl around for a week or two, feeding on dried blood and waste from adult fleas. At that point, the larvae spin cocoons and transform into adult fleas several days later, or they can hide out in their cocoons for up to a year. Once fleas emerge, they live around 30 to 40 days, although female fleas can live up to 50 days if your cat doesn't groom regularly, allowing them to feed longer.
Even if you don't see grownup fleas on your beloved feline, a patch of eggs lets you know fleas are surely nearby. They'll hatch soon if you don't get rid of them. Fleas aren't only an itchy nuisance for your purring companion, they're also a health risk. If he swallows a flea, he can wind up with tapeworms and have severe intestinal problems. Bites can lead to typhus, a type of bacterial infection, causing his temperature to skyrocket to dangerous levels, among many other symptoms. Flea bites may also trigger allergic reaction, making your furry pal scratch excessively, lose fur and have patches of painful red skin.
What to Do
Nearly everyone with a kitty or pooch goes through a flea outbreak at some point. Drop Scruffy off at the vet for a flea bath. While he's gone, wash everything in your home. Blankets, pillow covers and jackets lying around all need to go through a couple hot wash cycles. Thoroughly vacuum all surfaces -- curtains, the sofa, mattresses and all carpeting. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to set off a pet-safe flea fogger while you and Scruffy are out of the house. Because flea eggs are rather small and you may not be able to see them all, you can easily miss some. You'll need to go through this rigorous cleaning process several more times to eliminate all eggs and fleas.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.