Fleas & Other Bugs That Bother Cats

Keep your cat in tip-top shape by treating fleas and other bugs.
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Cats are prone to blood-sucking fleas and other pesky parasites. These “bugs” are generally not life-threatening, but they can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable for your feline friend. Rid your cat (and your home) of these creepy-crawly insects with a trip to your vet for diagnosis and treatment.


Fleas plague felines, resulting in persistent scratching, licking, chewing, hair loss, and irritated skin. If you suspect that your kitty has fleas, perform a flea check. Spread apart your cat's fur and take a close look at his skin, especially around the base of the tail and the nape of the neck.

Fleas resemble tiny brown spots about the size of a pinhead. Small white grains can indicate flea eggs, and black specks could point to “flea dirt,” or dried blood left by the fleas, according to the ASPCA. You can eliminate those nagging fleas with a monthly application to the skin of a basic flea medication.


Ear mites are a common infection in kittens and cats. They cause intense itching, head shaking, and scratching in the cat. Mites are small insects that tend to affect both ears, resulting in a foul smell and a coffee-ground-like appearance in kitty’s ears.

If your cat looks distressed, schedule a trip to the vet so that he can identify the problem as ear mites and prevent a secondary infection. Your vet might prescribe topical ear drops, as well as instruct you in how to clean your cat’s ears. Although your furry sidekick might not cooperate during treatment, it’s important to complete the prescribed course of medication to prevent reinfection.


Ticks not only are a nuisance for Mr. Whiskers, they can carry several life-threatening diseases. As the ticks gorge themselves on blood, the skin can become irritated, and in rare cases an infection results. Clinical signs of infection caused by ticks include anemia, fever, and loss of appetite, depression, or lethargy.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council suggests that if you find a blood-sucking tick on your cat, put on gloves and remove the tick from the skin with a pair of tweezers. Even after the tick has been removed, body parts can remain on the skin, so take kitty to the vet for proper tick control.


Lice can also affect your prized pet as well as humans. These wingless insects are about the size of a flea and tend to concentrate near body openings where they can find moisture. If you notice your cat scratching, or restless, or if he has a rough or matted coat, he might have a lice infestation.

Both dab-on and spray-on formulas can be used to rid your lice-infested kitty of every lousy louse. Once lice-free, your cat should be placed in a disinfected cage to ensure that any remaining eggs do not hatch and multiply. Discuss monthly treatments with your vet to control lice, and your frisky feline will be back to his parasite-free self in no time.

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.

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