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Just thinking about fleas is enough to make most of us start itching, but if your cat had fleas then you’d definitely know this, right? Wrong!
A study undertaken by the Royal Veterinary College between 2009-2014 indicates that flea infestations were found in almost 80 out of every thousand cats that saw a vet during that time, and yet learning of this came as a big shock to most of their owners!
Not many cat owners understand cat fleas as well as they should do, and many people reading this article right now assume their cat doesn’t have fleas because they believe any one of a number of common myths about cat fleas, which are patently untrue.
If you want to make sure you’re not one of those cat owners whose cats have fleas without them knowing about it, read on to learn five myths about cat fleas, and the truth behind them.
This is one of the most common myths about cat fleas, and one that often results in cat owners failing to flea treat their cats; that if the cat had fleas, those fleas would be biting the owner too.
First of all, flea treatment is preventative, and something you should undertake before your cat gets fleas, not afterwards.
Secondly, all fleas are not created equal! There are a number of different species of fleas, and many of them only attack and feed from a single, or limited, number of animals; which is the case with cat fleas. Cat fleas are of the species Ctenocephalides felis, which as you might expect, attack cats, and to a lesser extent, dogs; but not people.
Your cat could be absolutely jumping with fleas, and the chances of you as a person being bitten by them would still be slim to none.
If you have a longhaired cat like a Ragdoll, brushing them is probably more or less essential. Even shorthaired cats can benefit from being brushed regularly too.
Brushing your cat helps to keep their fur in good condition, stimulate the skin, and gives you a chance to check for any skin or coat problems; but it won’t reveal fleas. The tines of a brush are too large to catch fleas, and you could brush your cat for half an hour easily (or more or less indefinitely) without seeing a single one.
You need a flea comb to pick up and spot fleas, and even that takes time!
If your cat is flea treated to the appropriate schedule with a veterinary supplied or recommended product and it is applied or administered properly (and your house is not infested) then yes, your cat is probably flea-free.
If, however, you buy a cheap flea treatment from the supermarket, use “natural methods” of flea treatment, or buy products that your vet hasn’t advised specifically for your cat but that were effective some time ago, your cat may well have fleas.
Some flea treatment products don’t work, some can cause fleas to develop an immunity to them, and sometimes, owners unwittingly apply or administer the treatment incorrectly, causing it to fail.
Many cat owners believe that cats only need to be treated for fleas during the summer, and that fleas die off or become dormant in the winter. Outside, this might be the case in the environment; although wildlife provides a nice warm host for fleas in winter; but within the home, the consistent warmth that we enjoy there means that fleas aren’t seasonal at all.
Additionally, even in cold conditions, fleas at some stages of their lifecycle can remain dormant for months or years within the home and remain viable, which is just storing up problems for further down the line!
As mentioned, nobody likes to think of their cat as having fleas, but as the fleas don’t bite people and are usually “out of sight and out of mind,” many cat owners think of them as somewhat distasteful but not worth making a huge fuss about.
However, a flea infestation will be hugely irritating and unpleasant for your cat, and can cause them to develop a more acute and serious condition called flea bite dermatitis, which results in the cat’s immune system overreacting to every bite and causing huge itching, soreness and inflammation from each individual bite.
This means that every flea bite a cat gets will be a huge problem that will be distressing and unpleasant for them, and that may require a trip to the vet.
Once a cat has developed a flea bit sensitivity, this cannot be reversed, and yet it can be easily prevented by simply taking care of you cat’s preventative flea treatments before this happens. Talk to your vet if you need any advice on flea treatment or flea infestations in cats.
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