Fleas view your cat as a walking bed and breakfast, and after a delicious bloody meal do a little hanky panky. Then the females get to the business of laying eggs. These eggs are not lovingly tended to, but instead left to drop off and hatch elsewhere.
Fleas are elusive critters and you may not notice your cat carrying these bloodsucking hitchhikers until he starts scratching like a kitty possessed. But anything that eats must poop, and that results in little black, pepper-like flakes scattered throughout your cat's fur. This flea dirt, which is actually flea poop, indicates a parasitic problem for your cat and your home. Scratching, flea dirt and possibly an adverse skin reaction are the only signs that your cat has fleas.
Every flea comes from an egg, and every female flea can lay at least 20 eggs every single day. Although other animals carefully arrange this next generation in nests to watch over and protect them, fleas harbor no such attachment to their offspring. Eggs are laid on the cat and unceremoniously drop off wherever the cat happens to be at that particular time. In many cases the cat's favorite spot or bedding, also referred to as his “nest,” serves as the nursery for a majority of the flea eggs, where they remain until they reach adult status.
Every time your cat returns to his favorite spot, more eggs drop off into the makeshift flea nursery. Once the eggs hatch, the tiny worm-like larvae squirm deep into the fibers or crevices of the nest, where they feed on organic material, such as shed skin cells, hair and flea dirt. The larvae will continue feeding until they spin a cocoon to change into adults. Then they'll hatch, hop onto your cat and perpetuate the cycle.
Breaking The Cycle
Freeing your pet and house from the Great Flea Scourge means killing all the bloodsuckers no matter where they are in their life cycle. Pet flea control products typically only kill the adult fleas actually on the cat, meaning any eggs or larvae still hidden around your home are alive and ready to grow into adults to repopulate. Flea control powders and sprays prevent eggs and larvae from maturing. Treat the areas your cat likes to frequent, then vacuum thoroughly and throw away the bag to remove any eggs or larvae that may have survived. Read all directions and safety instructions thoroughly and retreat as necessary to eliminate any and all traces of fleas from 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.
Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.