Fleas are annoying and common parasites that all cat owners need to be vigilant about, using preventative treatments on our cats themselves to keep fleas at bay, and treating your home with the appropriate products too every now and then to kill any eggs and larvae that may be lurking in soft furnishings too.
Flea infestations in the home can be difficult to eradicate fully, and even fleas on our cats themselves are not always easy to manage, as some flea products are ineffective for some cats, or lose their efficacy in certain areas of the country as fleas begin to develop a level of resistance to them over time.
However, keeping your cat flea-free is important, not only to ensure that you yourself don’t get bitten to death or left with an infested home, but because biting fleas are a source of great irritation for your cat, just as they are for you.
Those one-off irritating bites are not the only issue to contend with when it comes to cat fleas either – and if your cat has a chronic or long-term flea infestation, this can actually go on to cause a more acute and long-term issue called fleabite dermatitis or flea allergy dermatitis, which is a type of hypersensitivity to flea bites that causes an extreme reaction in your cat every single time they are bitten.
This mean that a cat suffering from fleabite dermatitis will have an acute and localised skin reaction in the area of every bite they receive, and in some cases, just one bite can have an irritating systemic affect on your cat too. The area around a bite (or even your cat’s whole body in some cases) will become hugely itchy, inflamed and sore and potentially painful, and will make your cat very miserable and lead to them scratching, biting and licking themselves to distraction.
This in turn worsens the issue and damages the skin, increasing the risk of an infection setting in – all of which makes just one potential flea bite on a cat that suffers from flea allergy dermatitis a really big deal.
When it comes to how we treat and prevent fleas on cats, there are a number of different options. Most cat owners use a spot-on flea treatment on the back of the cat’s neck, and these can be purchased with a range of different active ingredients, some of which are a better fit for some cats and some areas of the country than others. Flea sprays, powders, collars, granules, liquid suspensions and oral pills are other options, although these are much less widely used today, as they tend to be less effective and are not well tolerated by all cats.
However, even the most effective of spot-on flea treatments for cats relies on a range of factors in order to ensure it is effective – such as being appropriate for the cat and the local area’s flea population, being administered in the right dosage, being applied correctly and not washing off in the rain, and being applied at the appropriate frequency, which usually means once a month.
If anything goes awry when it comes to the dosing with a monthly spot-on flea treatment that compromises its efficacy, the cat runs the risk of being exposed to fleas once more – and for a cat with fleabite dermatitis, risks a serious skin reaction as a result.
However, a prescription flea treatment product is available for cats that can be really helpful for cats that suffer from fleabite dermatitis (and their owners too), and for cats in general for that matter.
This product is very different to the other types of flea products we’re all familiar with because it is an injectable product – and this has a number of advantages, as well as potentially a couple of drawbacks.
Currently, injectable flea preventatives for cats in the UK are only available as prescription items from your vet, and this also means that they are administered in the veterinary clinic by your vet too.
Whilst this does mean you’ll need to get your cat to the clinic just to get their flea treatment performed, it also means that you can be sure that the injection has been administered properly and effectively!
The fact that you can be sure that the medication has been given properly and cannot be affected by external factors (like rain washing off a spot-on product) is one advantage, but the main one is that the flea preventative injection is effective to protect your cat for six months – so it only needs to be given twice a year.
This is useful as it means not only more time between treatments, but less margin for error in terms of accidentally being late with a dose, or administering one of those several interim doses incorrectly.
Generally, the injectable flea preventative option offered by vets in the UK is considered to be suitable for all cats, although your vet will need to advise you for your own specific pet.
It is also particularly worth considering for the owners of cats with fleabite dermatitis, due to the high level of efficacy and the removal of many of the potential problems and shortfalls of other types of cat flea medications that come with the long dosage time and injectable format.
Talk to your vet about the possibility of your cat having an injectable flea treatment if your vet hasn’t suggested this already, and they will be able to guide you as to the best approach.