Cat Flea Bites: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats
As a pet parent, you want to make sure your pets are safe, healthy, and happy in your home. But sometimes you may run into unwanted pests, like fleas.
Finding fleas is stressful on its own. Getting rid of fleas on cats is another story.
Treating fleas is no walk in the park. But, by following these tips you’ll be well on your way to flea freedom.
What to do if your cat has fleas
Anyone who has dealt with fleas knows getting rid of them on your pet and in your home can be challenging. So what should you do if your cat has fleas? Here are a few tips for addressing your flea problem quickly and safely.
1. Know where to look for fleas.
Fleas aren’t especially easy to find. And they are even harder to spot when your cat has long or thick fur. To narrow your search, try looking in these common places:
- Behind their ears
- Around their eyes
- Around the neck
- Near their hind legs
- In their armpits or groin
- Their stomach or abdomen
- At the base of their tail
Using a flea comb, part your cat’s hair by brushing it backward. Be on the lookout for fleas, flea dirt, and other signs of infection.
2. Recognize the signs of cat flea bites.
If you’ve found evidence of fleas, your cat has likely suffered a few flea bites already. Unfortunately, flea bites can cause a lot of problems for your pet, including skin irritation and severe allergic reactions.
Here are a few of the most common signs of cat flea bites.
- Scratching: It’s normal for pets to scratch on occasion. But, if your cat is scratching or biting the same area frequently your cat might have been bit by fleas.
- Hair loss: As your cat scratches their skin to relieve the itch from the bite they may start to lose their hair. Hair loss often occurs across their back, hind legs, and tail.
- Scabs and skin infection: If your cat has a reaction to the flea bite you may start to see red bumps on their skin. Flea bites are very small but can become inflamed and tear open the more your cat scratches.
- Anemia: Fleas can consume up to 15x their body weight so your cat may experience signs of anemia from blood loss. Look for pale gums and low energy.
3. Understand cat flea symptoms of common diseases.
- Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD): Flea allergy dermatitis is an extremely common allergic reaction that causes small bumps and red patches on your pet. Your cat may deal with the infection on two levels. First with the flea bite and second due to open sores from scratching the bite.
- Bartonella (Cat-scratch disease): Bartonella is known as cat-scratch disease which causes weight loss, weakness, anemia, and swollen lymph nodes. It got its name from the way that bacteria travels to animals from an infected cat. Bartonella passes through flea feces and infects the scratched pet through abrasions in the skin.
- A flea comb (to find and remove fleas, eggs, and flea dirt)
- A bowl of soap and water (to kill adult fleas instantly)
- A clean, white paper towel (to see flea dirt)
- Fast-acting tablets: These tablets contain Nitenpyram which helps kill fleas quickly. These products are best used to treat active infestations paired with a preventative product to kill flea eggs and flea larvae.
- Topical treatment: Applied directly to your cat’s fur, spot-on solutions spread throughout their natural oils and hair follicles. The best topical treatments kill and repel fleas at all life stages.
- Wearable flea treatments: Some wearable treatments include flea collars that your pet wears around their neck. The solution gets applied to the collar and is effective for 6 to 8 months.
- Prescription flea medication: Prescriptions can come in topical or pill form and solve a variety of problems. Your vet can recommend and prescribe the right treatment for your cat’s unique needs.
- Natural flea treatment: Home remedies are convenient, but these solutions aren’t effective and may be toxic to your pets. Some examples include apple cider vinegar, essential oils, diatomaceous earth, garlic, or sage tea.
- Health issues
- Pregnancy status
If you notice symptoms from a flea bite, consult with your veterinarian right away. The sooner you get your cat treatment the sooner they’ll get back to normal health.
4. Prepare to remove the fleas.
Start by collecting the right tools to extract fleas from your cat. You’ll need:
5. Choose the right flea treatment.
Gaining complete flea control can take up to three months, so don’t lose hope. But to make sure your cat stays protected all year, consider a vet-quality flea and tick treatment. Here are a few types to consider:
How to get rid of fleas on cats and in your home
Before you use anything to treat fleas, start by making sure it's safe for your cat. The treatment you choose will depend on your pet’s:
Flea removal from full-grown cats is different from knowing how to get rid of fleas on kittens. Make sure your kitten is at least 8 weeks old and 1.5 lbs or more before using any topical flea treatment.
How to treat fleas on your cat
No matter what you choose, the best way to get rid of fleas on cats and dogs is through continuous prevention. Here’s what you should know to effectively prevent fleas.
Look for key active ingredients.
The most effective flea treatment for cats includes active ingredients that kill and repel fleas and ticks. Here’s what to look for:
Flea treatment that contains Permethrin can be fatal for cats. If you have a dog in the home that has been treated make sure you keep them away from your cat for at least 24 hours.
From extra flea treatment to vet visits for a flea-borne disease, you could spend hundreds of dollars dealing with fleas. That’s why year-round prevention is your best way to avoid fleas.
Along with consistency, proper treatment is the best way to get rid of fleas fast. Follow the instructions associated with your flea treatment and be sure to apply treatment to every pet in your household.
How to treat fleas in your home
Once a household has an active infestation, breaking the life cycle can be challenging. Here are a few tips for treating fleas in your home.
Vacuum your pet’s environment.
Vacuuming can help you get rid of 30-90% of flea eggs. After cleaning, remove the contents of the vacuum immediately outside. Or, place the debris in soapy water to kill any fleas or flea dirt.
Clean your cat’s belongings.
Wash your cat’s bedding, blankets, and soft toys with soap and hot water. Then, wipe down hard surfaces and toys with disinfectant.
Use a household spray.
If you’re dealing with a major flea infestation you may want to use an insect growth regulator (IGR). A household spray breaks up flea breeding grounds which can help prevent future reproduction.
Need help fighting fleas & ticks? We can help!START FIGHTING FLEAS