Cat fleas are one of the most common and widespread flea species on the planet. To make matters worse, controlling fleas is tricky and they’re quite difficult to completely get rid of. If your cat spends time outside, beware. Fleas prefer warmer weather and commonly lie in the yard, waiting for your kitty to pass by. They love the warm, moist environment a cat’s furry coat provides. Once your cat walks through the grass, they jump and latch right on. Not only can these bumps be bothersome, but the fleas often bite in groups as well.
Are you concerned your cat has been bitten by fleas? Read on to learn about the signs and symptoms of flea bites on cats.
How Can You Tell If Your Cat Has Fleas?
Fleas are incredibly small. The ability to identify fleas on your feline is crucial. Although they may seem harmless, bites can also become pretty serious and are known to carry a number of harmful diseases that can spread to your pet. If the flea infestation is severe, it should be fairly easy to spot the pests on your feline’s body. However, it isn’t always this obvious. If you have yet to spot the actual pests, pay attention to your cat’s behavior. Scratching, chewing and constant licking of one particular area of the body could be signs of fleas. Sometimes, it’s actually flea saliva that can become the biggest problem. Fleas can cause allergic reactions in cats, which is known by veterinarians as Flea Allergy Dermatitis.
Now let’s discuss the symptoms. These can range from headaches to feline fevers, or even cat vomiting and rashes. You may also notice some behavioral changes in your cat. Clear indicators of flea infestation include repeated scratching, itching and biting areas throughout the body. It’s not uncommon for cats to scratch or bite constantly in parts of their body where fleas have bitten them.
If fleas have infested a felines head area, you’ll likely notice head shaking and scratching of the ears. Because fleas are so itchy and such a nuisance for your four-legged friend, they may even scratch the infected area to the point where their hair falls out. Cats may also lick the problem area to alleviate any itching or irritation. Some cats will excessively lick the flea-infested area to the point where they’ve successfully groomed the fleas out before you have had a chance to find them.
What do Cat Flea Bites Look Like?
If you do notice some of the above behavioral symptoms, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and check for fleas. To actually see fleas in action, you must examine your cat’s skin and his coat. Fleas are tiny, move fast, and are known to jump around. Be vigil during your examination of the skin and fur. It’s important to check everywhere. Fleas are quite industrious and can make a home out of any nook and cranny of your kitty’s fur and skin. They’re usually black or light brown in color, depending on how much blood they’ve ingested (the more blood, the lighter the color). You can also get a flea comb to run through your cat’s fur. If fleas are present, you will actually see brown residue come off in the comb. It looks like crumbs or dirt. This is flea feces.
Throughout your examination, check for flea bites as well. Generally, they appear as small red or pink dots, are raised above the skin, and may be crusty in the center. These bites frequently form in clusters of two or three. Each dot may even have a vague red ring around it, similar to a tick bite. However it’s important to note, flea and tick bites are quite different. Tick bites appear as a more blatant red lesion with a “bullseye” appearance, compared to a flea bite which is more of a red bump with some light redness on the outside.
Clearly, fleas are no fun for your animal, nor are they any fun for you. Here are some precautionary measures you can take to keep your cat safe from flea bites.
Non-toxic flea treatments are a great way to keep your feline flea free. These come in topical and collar form and typically provide effective protection. Another way to prevent fleas is to clean your cat’s bedding. While cats enjoy keeping themselves clean, you will have to wash the bedding and any areas around the house that he enjoys lounging around.
Also, make sure to keep the yard clean and flea free. If your cat likes to roam around in the grass, keeping it groomed is an effective way to rid the area of fleas. Using non-toxic flea treatment also helps keep those pesky critters away from your furry friend.
Treatment – How to Eliminate Fleas on Cats
If you weren’t lucky enough to prevent your cat from being bitten by fleas, there are a variety of ways to treat your cat:
- Brush your cat using a flea comb and soapy water
- Bathe your cat with flea shampoo
- Spray your cat with a special flea spray
It is important to note that being proactive is the key to getting rid of fleas on pets (and keeping them away). Fleas lay eggs regularly, sometimes up to 50 per day. Therefore, your treatment products may kill the adult fleas, while fleas in the egg or larvae flea life cycle stage may still continue to develop. Don’t be discouraged if fleas seem to reappear, this doesn’t mean the products aren’t working- it just means you need to keep preventing another flea life cycle from the beginning. This cycle is part of what makes a flea plague so difficult to extinguish. But with vigilance and consistency, you’ll be able to eliminate the pests from your pet.
Ultimately, because fleas are so small and move so quickly, it’s difficult to actually spot one on your cat. However, with a keen eye, you may notice changes in your cat’s behavior, find evidence of a flea infestation through examination with a flea comb, or notice the distinct makeup of a flea bite during a routine fur inspection. It’s important to follow these steps to identify the presence of fleas and exercise preventative measures to keep fleas at bay.
- Davis, Brenna. “How to Identify a Flea Bite on a Cat.” Pets The Nest, 14 July 2016, www.pets.thenest.com/identify-flea-bite-cat-5046.html.
- Elliott, Pippa. “Check Cats for Fleas.” 3 Ways to Lower the PH in an Aquarium, WikiHow, 25 Jan. 2019, www.wikihow.pet/Check-Cats-for-Fleas.
- “How to Tell If Your Cat Has Fleas.” PetMD, www.petmd.com/cat/parasites/evr_ct_does_my_cat_have_fleas.