What can cause your cat’s spot-on flea treatments to fail?
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What can cause your cat’s spot-on flea treatments to fail?

As all cat owners know, it is important to treat your cat for fleas regularly in order to prevent infestations from developing that can affect your cat’s health, and of course be irritating and unpleasant for both cat and owner. For most of us, this means using a spot-on pipette product around once a month, which is designed to kill fleas on your cat at all of their life stages, and protect them from further infestations for the rest of the duration of the product’s efficacy.

However, flea-treating your cat is something you should review from time to time to ensure that the product you are using is effective and working as it should, just to be on the safe side! It is a good idea to use a flea comb just before you apply a treatment to check for fleas, and also again a couple of days later to make sure that it has worked.

But if you find that your cat’s spot-on flea treatment has proven to be ineffective and your cat still has fleas on them after you have left a couple of days for the product to work, this can be both annoying and confusing for the cat’s owner, and of course, of no value to the cat!

There are a variety of different reasons behind why your cat’s spot-on flea treatment might fail, and knowing about the most common of these can help you to determine what has gone wrong and take steps to correct it. In this article we will look at the main reasons why a flea treatment might fail, and how to correct such issues. Read on to learn more.

Widely ineffective products

There can be a significant amount of disparity in the difference between the prices of different spot-on treatments, with some products costing just a couple of pounds from the supermarket and others costing over £30 and only available from your cat’s vet.

The products at the very bottom end of the market, often referred to as supermarket brands-the types you can find for under £5 in the aisle where you buy your pet food-simply are not effective at treating fleas on cats, and the only effect that they have is making the owner feel better about having done something about the fleas! However, such products will not only fail to treat fleas but will cause an adverse reaction in some cats that will make them quite ill, and so if you are using a product of this type, changing to one recommended by your vet will almost certainly solve the problem.

Flea resistance

Every few years, one or more premium flea products for cats are brought onto the market and these tend to be more expensive than the existing alternatives and often, only available from the vet. This is more than just a marketing gimmick-over time, the flea populations in any given area build up a tolerance to the active ingredient contained within the treatment products, which mean that treating your cat with any given product might work well for years, but then begin to fail.

This is why combing your cat a couple of days after treatment is important, because this might be the only way you will find out when a product has stopped working. Tell your vet about this, and ask them to recommend a product with a different active ingredient instead.

The wrong size pipette

Spot-on treatments for cats come in carefully measured single-dose pipettes designed to be effective at eradicating fleas but without needlessly exposing your cat to too much of the product. Generally, you can buy your product of choice in two different size options, one designed for cats up to 4kg in weight and one for cats of 4-8kg.

If your cat is large and you are using a product designed for a smaller cat, this will not be fully effective, and it can be hard to tell the weight of a cat just by looking at them or picking them up! Even if your cat was weighed at the vet more than a year ago, their weight may have changed-meaning that they may need a larger pipette.

Weigh your cat to make sure you’re buying the right option!

Compromised pipettes

The pipettes containing your cat’s flea treatment are sealed within the tube and presented in a foil-backed package too, in order to keep them fresh and effective right up until you need to use them. You should only open a pipette when you are ready to use it, and remember that your products can become compromised if opened and left for more than a couple of hours before use, or if there is any damage to the immediate packaging.

Application to the fur not the skin

Flea products need to be applied to the skin, where they then diffuse across the body as they dry to provide protection. This means that you need to part the cat’s fur and ensure that you apply the liquid to the skin, and failing to do this and simply wetting the fur instead is likely to render the product ineffective.

Bad weather

Your cat’s flea product will provide protection for the duration it should come rain or come shine-as long as the product dries on the skin in the first place.

If you apply the pipette and your cat then goes out in the rain or otherwise gets wet, the product may well fail.

A home infestation

Fleas can live in your home as well as on your cat, and flea eggs and larvae can remain viable in the environment for months or even years at a time! Remember to check your home for fleas and treat your soft furnishings and rooms too if necessary, because a spot-on product only treats the cat, and not their surroundings!

Application in a place the cat can lick

Flea spot-on treatments are designed to be applied to the scruff of the neck, and the main reason for this is because it is an area that your cat cannot reach to lick the product off! If you apply the pipette in a different area of the body or don’t get your aim quite right, your cat may lick it off and so, render it ineffective.

Being licked by another cat (or dog)

Finally, even if you apply the product in just the right place and everything goes well, don’t forget to consider other pets that you may have, and if they are likely to try to lick the product off of each other after treatment too!

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