Do cats get fleas?

External parasite infestation is a common concern of pet parents. These pesky parasites would not only make the pet uncomfortable as they can carry diseases too. Fleas are one of the parasites of cats. Cats are in fact the primary host of fleas. Dogs are infested with fleas as well and the common fleas that feed on dogs’ blood are the Ctenocephalides felis or the cat flea.

Flea infestation is very common in cats. Most cat owners have dealt with these parasites one time or another while keeping the cat. A few fleas on the surface of the cat’s skin that feed on the cat’s blood may not cause the pet immense discomfort. These few fleas though must not be ignored by the cat parent. As soon as a female flea has had a blood meal it would lay many eggs every day. The few fleas would become a colony that would feed on the host’s blood. Heavy infestation can result to anemia. The infested cat would have pale gums. On young kittens, a flea infestation can consequently result to the pet’s death. Flea bites are itchy. The discomfort the cat is suffering from the flea bites would be compounded if the cat has an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Cats allergic to flea saliva would develop a disease called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Excessive scratching can result to raw skin that can get infected. This would result to skin diseases that would not only make the life of the pet miserable but would also mar its appearance. Once a cat is infested with fleas there is a big possibility that it would get another kind of parasite infestation. Cats and dogs are the final hosts of Dipilydium caninum, the intestinal parasite that is commonly known as tapeworm. The intermediate hosts of these parasites are fleas. The cat will be infested with tapeworm when a tapeworm egg-carrying flea is ingested while grooming. Fleas would not only make the life of the pet uncomfortable because these pesky parasites can feed on human blood too. Heavy infestation would mean that fleas would be found not only on cats and on other pets but on the carpet, on rugs, on sofas and on beds too. Centrally heated homes are ideal environment for fleas to complete their life cycle.

Fleas are equipped with strong hind legs that make them excellent jumpers. Fleas can jump from one animal to another blood-rich host. Cats can get fleas from other cats, from dogs and from other small animals the cat consider as preys. An infestation can be started by humans that have gotten near an area where fleas lurk. Pet parents would be surprised at finding fleas on the cat’s coat especially if the cat is a lone pet and if it is not allowed to wander outdoors. As mentioned, fleas are excellent jumpers. A flea that has jumped on the clothes of the cat owner would start the infestation.

Eradicating fleas is no longer a concern these days as various anti-flea medications and flea control products are readily available. The pet’s parasites can be treated with oral medication. Once the medication is ingested by the cat, the active ingredients that are passed on to the blood will prevent the eggs from hatching thereby controlling the flea population. This kind of treatment though would not poison adult fleas. For adult fleas, on the spot treatments are used. Drops of the liquid medication are applied at the back of the neck or between the shoulder blades. This treatment kills both the adult fleas and the larvae. Flea collars, shampoos and powders are other anti-flea medication treatments. Flea population must be removed from the house as well and this can be done by using the vacuum more frequently especially on the favorite spots of the cat.

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