Fleas & Ticks

What to Do When Fluffy has Fleas

What to Do When Fluffy has Fleas

Fluffy hasn’t been acting like herself in weeks. She’s stopped purring. And instead of curling up in a lap and dozing, she’s constantly scratching her ears. And she’s grooming so much so that there’s the beginning of a bald patch.

Those are just a few of the major signs of a cat with fleas. If your cat shows any of these signs, it’s possible that fleas have taken up residence in her fur — and most likely your home as well:

  • Scratching around the head
  • Excessive grooming and an increase in hairballs
  • Small dark insects burrowed into or jumping off the pet
  • Pepper-like specks on the cat’s fur
  • Flea eggs (tiny white grains)
  • Scabs circling the neck, on the back and the base of the tail
  • Bald spots
  • Agitation
  • Pale lips and gums
  • Tapeworms

Spring and summer are prime time for flea infestations. These parasites thrive in warm, humid climates at temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees. Prolific breeders, a female flea can lay 40-50 eggs a day. When mature, half those eggs (the female half) can produce up to 20,000 new fleas in 2 months’ time.

Cats and dogs aren’t the only ones who suffer once a flea hitches a ride. They can propel themselves onto us, in our hair and our bedding, carpets and furniture cushions.

If you suspect your pet has fleas, consult your veterinarian. If she confirms their presence, all your pets and the environment you share will need to be treated for fleas.

Protecting Your Pet from Fleas

The flea life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The good news: With the right prevention, you can eliminate fleas from your cat. Fortunately there are many prescription flea-prevention products available.

In the past, pet parents could only rely on traditional flea collars, shampoos, and sprays. Today’s products are safer, more convenient and more effective.

Bravecto® (fluralaner topical solution) for Cats is perfectly suited to break the flea life cycle. It works for up to 12 weeks* in a single dose1. Adult fleas lay eggs shortly after hitching a ride on your cat. The eggs then hatch into larva and infiltrate your carpets, floorboards, under furniture, etc. Larvae turn into pupae before emerging from their cocoons and turning into adult fleas2. This whole cycle takes several months, but with a long lasting product like Bravecto, you can stop fleas dead in their tracks and break their lifecycle before they make your cat’s life miserable – killing 100% of fleas in 8 hours1.

Getting Rid of Fleas in Your Home

In case there are still fleas in the developmental life stages in your home, a thorough cleaning of soft goods, carpeting and even baseboards is wise. Fleas will be a persistent problem unless you clean the environment as well as your pet.

In a plastic or trash bag, gather all bedding and fabrics a cat with fleas may have come in contact with and wash them in hot water. Then vacuum all the areas your cat frequents to suck up flea eggs. Carefully dispose of the dirt that you collect so that eggs won’t hatch and return. Vacuum daily until you are certain no fleas remain.

*Bravecto kills fleas and prevents flea infestations. Topical for Cats kills ticks (black-legged tick) for 12 weeks and American dog ticks for 8 weeks.

Bravecto has not been shown to be effective for 12-weeks’ duration in kittens less than 6 months of age. Bravecto Topical for Cats: The most common adverse reactions recorded in clinical trials were vomiting, itching, diarrhea, hair loss, decreased appetite, lethargy, and scabs/ulcerated lesions. For topical use only. Avoid oral ingestion. The safety of Bravecto has not been established in breeding, pregnant and lactating cats. Use with caution in cats with a history of neurologic abnormalities. Neurologic abnormalities have been reported in cats receiving Bravecto, even in cats without a history of neurologic abnormalities.

References: 1. Bravecto Topical for Cats [prescribing information]. Madison, NJ: Merck Animal Health; 2016. 2. CAPCvet.org web site. Accessed March 23, 2016.