Fleas can take over your home and your cats, and they’re more than happy to bite you and your other pets as well. Not only are they a pain to live with, causing itching, welts and making a general nuisance of themselves, fleas can also cause some more serious problems.
Fleas are an essential part of the tapeworm cycle, and if your cat swallows an infected flea, she’ll probably end up contracting these intestinal parasites. Cats who go outside may pick up fleas that are carrying tapeworm larvae and bring the problem home. Tapeworms can cause serious problems such as malnutrition and intestinal blockage in cats, and where tapeworms and fleas are present, the life cycle can continue. Disease considerations aside, just the sight of tiny wriggling white tapeworm segments on your cat or in her litter box can be enough to send you running to the vet for medication.
A kitty with a severe flea infestation is not only likely to be miserable from the itching that these pests can cause, but if the fleas are bad enough he can die. Each time a flea bites your cat it is taking some of his blood, and if he has a large number of fleas they can consume so much of his blood that he becomes anemic. While any cat can fall victim to anemia caused by fleas, the most likely to suffer are young kittens and elderly cats. Controlling fleas will protect your cat from this life-threatening situation.
Cats who have been repeatedly exposed to fleas may develop a flea allergy, causing them to react strongly to even a single flea bite. Your kitty will scratch and lick constantly, her skin will be inflamed, red and raw, and she’ll be pretty obviously miserable all the time. A flea allergy can also cause her to lose a lot of hair, and you can see or feel lots of little scabs, especially near her tail or around her neck. In severe cases, you may see cracked, crusty brown patches that ooze clear fluid or even pus.
Dealing with fleas is an ongoing battle for some folks, especially those who live where the climate is mild all year. Even in cold climates fleas can thrive through the winter if they get in your house, since the pests can lay dormant inside their cocoons waiting for just the right conditions to hatch. Vacuum often to help eliminate as many fleas as possible from your carpets, and use a spot treatment with flea growth inhibitor on your cat. If the fleas seem to be getting the upper hand, consult your vet for additional help.
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.