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How to treat and get rid of fleas on your cat

Fleas are extremely common in cats, especially those who live an indoor and outdoor lifestyle, in fact they’re more common for cats than dogs. If your cat has an incessant itch, you’ll likely find fleas are the culprit. Luckily, working out how to get rid of fleas on cats isn’t complicated, but does require a regular care routine and the correct products.

With the help of PETstock VET, Dr Natalia Li, we’ve got the basics covered. Everything you need to know about how to treat and get rid of fleas on your cat.

How do cats get fleas?

Like dogs, cats can contract fleas in several different ways, and for cats who live outdoors and indoors, the likelihood increases. It’s imperative to understand the environment and ways in which fleas thrive in order figure out how to get rid of fleas on cats.

The ways fleas find their way to your cat

  • When encountering wildlife or stray cats when outside.
  • Via other household pets, like dogs or rabbits.
  • Environments where fleas already exist, particularly inside environment like bedding, furniture and carpet.

What are the signs your cat has fleas?

Black cat getting a belly rub on a bed

You can try a couple of different methods to figure out if your cat has fleas. However, the best way to detect these nasty parasites is by checking your cat’s coat and visually look for fleas throughout the fur or close to the skin. Fleas are brown or black looking in colour and about the size of a grain of rice. Just remember, if you can’t see them, this doesn’t completely rule them out.

Other signs can include:

  • Flea dirt: Little black dots through your cat’s coat.
  • Scratching: Constant scratching at skin and fur.
  • Licking: Obsessive licking of specific areas of the coat or skin.
  • Restlessness: Inability to stay still and constantly getting up/looking uncomfortable.
  • Head shaking: Constant spurts of shaking of the head, indicating irritation or discomfort.
  • Hair loss: Hair loss that occurs in line with excessive itching.

What flea prevention and treatment is available?

When it comes to how to get rid of fleas on cats, there are many over the counter treatments available to kill fleas. However, strict monthly preventative regime must be put in place to ensure the fleas don’t reappear in the environment, or on you cat. Unfortunately, fleas do have a nasty habit of returning if not completely dealt with during removal and clean up.

Wash, removal and treatment

First, before administering a topical treatment or tablet to kill fleas, you should wash your dog thoroughly and comb out any existing fleas or eggs. To help achieve a thorough clean of your cat, there are specific flea shampoos readily available.

Once your feline’s fresh and flea free (for the most part), then administer your flea treatment to take care of the rest.

Products to eliminate and prevent fleas

Revolution Plus Flea & Tick Treatment 2.5-5kg Cat

Revolution Plus Flea & Tick Treatment 2.5-5kg Cat

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Bravecto Plus Flea, Tick & Worming Treatment 1.2-2.8kg Cat

Bravecto Plus Flea, Tick & Worming Treatment 1.2-2.8kg Cat

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Seresto Flea Cat & Kitten Collar

Seresto Flea Cat & Kitten Collar

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Breaking the flea cycle: how to get rid of fleas on cats for good

Ginger cat looking up

Completely getting rid of fleas doesn’t stop after you administer flea treatments. Did you know, fleas can lay hundreds of eggs and infest a household within a matter of weeks? It sounds scary, and it’s a common reality.

Adult fleas visible on your cat make up only 5% of the number of flea eggs and larvae in your cat’s environment. Therefore, it’s important to treat your house for fleas as well as your cat, and why your cat should be treated even if you don’t notice fleas.

Fleas will lay their eggs on a host animal or can drop into other areas of the environment – including your cat’s bed!

Once hatched, larvae (small worms) will continue to feed and live in the environment. They can stay in this development stage for months.

From larvae, the parasites will cocoon and stay in this state for almost a year before transitioning for a final time.

Once an adult flea is active after the final transition, it will feed on a host and continue its life and cycle.

A deep clean of the environment should include:

Wash your cat’s bedding, and anything else your cat sleeps on, in hot water

Washing your cat’s bedding is essential. Your cat won’t stop scratching for long if they jump into a flea-riddled bed shortly after being treated! Use hot water, if you can, (a trip to the laundrette might be in order) for the best chance of killing any flea eggs that might be present. If your pet shares your bed or sleeps on the couch, factor in time to wash these things too. You’ll also find there are pet-safe insecticides and flea repellent sprays that can be used on bedding for some extra protection.

Vacuum carpets and furniture

Thoroughly and frequently vacuuming carpets in your home will help draw out fleas and their eggs. It’s important to undertake this while you’re cleaning after an infestation, but also for general cleaning maintenance of the same areas.

In some cases, you may need to call in professionals to help with exterminating the fleas – they can be more resilient in staying in the surroundings than on live animals. Just keep this in mind if you’re struggling to keep fleas under control.

“Make sure you buy flea products from reputable pet shops or from your local vet, as supermarket products can sometimes be questionable when it comes to active ingredients. Also make sure insecticide sprays aren’t applied at a harmful level for the animals within the household.” – PETstock VET, Dr Natalia Li.

Always speak to your local vet for more advice and information. Or you can visit one of our PETstock VET clinics in your local area.

Keep reading articles for more tips and advice for your cat.

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Revolution Plus Flea & Tick Treatment 5-10kg Cat

Revolution Plus Flea & Tick Treatment 5-10kg Cat

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Revolution Plus Flea & Tick Treatment 2.5-5kg Cat

Revolution Plus Flea & Tick Treatment 2.5-5kg Cat

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Advocate Flea & Worm Treatment >4kg Cat

Advocate Flea & Worm Treatment >4kg Cat

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Bravecto Plus Flea, Tick & Worming Treatment 2.8-6.25kg Cat

Bravecto Plus Flea, Tick & Worming Treatment 2.8-6.25kg Cat

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Advocate Flea & Worm Treatment <4kg Cat

Advocate Flea & Worm Treatment <4kg Cat

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