The cat flea is the most common parasite, and almost every cat will have fleas at some time in its life Flea powders and collars help, but they are not 100 per cent effective. Cat fleas are dark brown, wingless insects about the size of a pinhead which bite the cat’ skin and feed off its blood. The cat then scratches the bites which can create sores, and an allergy to flea saliva may cause a flea-allergic dermatitis.
If a flea-infested cat’s coat is combed, live fleas may or may not be seen, but dead fleas and specks of flea excreta can be seen in the cat’s coat. On discovering a flea outbreak, treatment of the cat itself is relatively simple. Flea powders, sprays and collars are available from pet shops, and more effective treatments in the form of pump-sprays (less frightening to the cat than aerosols), spot-on drops applied to the back of the cat’s neck, or even a vial of liquid given in food which prevents fleas which bite the cat from breeding, thereby halting the infestation. Instructions on the pack must be followed closely -never be tempted to use more than one treatment at once, as this can cause a fatal overdose.
Furnishings in the home also need to be sprayed with a special household flea treatment as the fleas on the cat are only the tip of the iceberg flea eggs, larvae and pupae will be lurking in the carpets and the cat’s bedding.