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Daisy and Cat Flea Prevention

Daisy was scratching herself repeatedly, and she was becoming irritable and grumpy to handle.

"Daisy" was a beautiful, long haired, pristine, domestic short haired, White cat. She was quite stunning, and she had the most alluring yellow eyes. Daisy was brought into the clinic as her owners had noted her scratching herself repeatedly, and it was mentioned that she was becoming quite irritable and grumpy to handle. 

On her examination it was revealed, to her owner's horror, that Daisy had fleas. After combing her carefully in the consultation, the offending fleas and tell-tale flea dirt were found on the fine-toothed flea comb used. Daisy also had developed some raised, inflamed, scabs: secondary dermatitis lesions over her neck and head area. 

A Spot-On treatment was applied which would need to be repeated regularly now throughout the year. Beautiful wee Daisy would need some treatment for her secondary dermatitis lesions, and their home also treated for fleas.  

With the crisp autumn days now encroaching into the colder winter months, the central heating in our homes is now well and truly switched on again. So, it is at this time of year that we need to be very aware of Fleas and preventative flea treatments for all our pets. 

Fleas are the most common external parasite in our pets. They measure about 2mm long, are reddish-brown in colour, … and they have very long legs for jumping!! They live for 7-14 days, living and feeding on your pet, with the females then jumping off to lay up to 50 eggs a day in your carpets and household soft furnishings. The egg larvae then hatch out and then burrow into the carpets and furnishings. When the larvae pupate, they can remain dormant and quiet for up to a year. They are then awoken by vibrations and activity, and by any warmth. They will then emerge and jump onto your pet again, to then continue their lifecycle. Centrally heated homes with fitted carpets provide the perfect conditions for fleas to develop an infestation in your home, all year round!  

The most obvious symptom of any flea infestation is your cat scratching a lot. Also, if you see little black specks on wetted paper or cotton wool, that leach into reddish blotches, then you have found flea dirt! Treat your pet for fleas immediately. If you let this infestation continue, your pets will soon be miserable and itchy. They will start over-grooming, producing bald, bare areas, and if they are allergic to the flea saliva, they may also develop raised, skin scabs and inflamed skin areas, usually over the tail, back and neck area, this is an allergic secondary dermatitis. This dermatitis can be severe and debilitating, and often needs additional Veterinary treatment to clear up.  

All cats can get fleas! If your cats go outside, they will be meeting other cats, who may already have fleas.  Also, if they hunt or roams further afield, Rabbit and hedgehog fleas can also live on cats. Also, if you have bought any second-hand home soft furnishings, they could come already with the offending flea eggs harboured inside. If you have just moved into a new house, flea eggs could be in the carpets from previous pet owners, waiting to emerge with any new activity and resumed warmth within the new home. If you, or a family member, work anywhere with or around animals, you could be bringing unwanted flea visitors’ home with you from your work. Also with indoor cats, although your cat may not leave the house, fleas could come into your home on the clothes and bags of other cat lovers, or on your own clothes if you visit a pet owning friend and there happens to be any fleas around in their home.  So, it is always best to be aware and know that unfortunately, fleas are always around, and then act accordingly. As flea prevention is far better than cure!   

If you find fleas and flea dirt on your cat, a) treat the cat, and b) deal with potential fleas and flea eggs in your household, as 95% of fleas and flea eggs in your home will not be on your cat, they will be established in carpets and household furnishings. Consult your Veterinary Practice about the best treatments for your cats, any other pets in the household, and for your home furnishings. There are several effective treatments to choose from. Spot On and oral treatments are available tailored to your pets’ species, age, and weight. If fleas have been found on your pets, to prevent fleas becoming well established within your home, it is always essential to also treat your home, cat baskets and any pet sleeping areas, indoors and out, with a good, advised Household Flea treatment product and to vacuum all carpets and soft furnishings to get rid of any fleas and eggs. Remember the garage and outbuildings where cats may find a cosy bed, and car furnishings if they have travelled in the car to the vets or a boarding cattery.   

It is much better however to avoid and prevent a household flea infestation in the first place, by having a regular year-round flea treatment in place, and do this for all your household pets.   

REMEMBER NEVER USE A DOG FLEA PRODUCT ON YOUR CAT AS THESE CAN BE EXTREMELY TOXIC TO CATS 

For good professional advice of flea prevention and treatments for your pets, do contact your Veterinary Practice.  

Alison Laurie-Chalmers,
Senior Consultant,
Crown Vets

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