A parasitic condition that strikes fear in most cat owners is flea infestation. The flea has the potential to breed inside your house within 12 days and each female flea can lay several hundred eggs per week starting 24-48 hours after her first blood feed from your cat. The eggs are laid on the animal but soon drop off into bedding and especially like the base of the pile of carpets. Hatching and survival are dependent on temperature and humidity. Modern houses with carpets and central heating, providing an ideal microclimate for the larvae to thrive and feed on organic matter such as dead skin cells. The larvae finally pupate, forming a cocoon, usually at the base of the carpet. Carbon dioxide (breathed out by animals and people) plus vibration (animals or people moving nearby) are trigger factors for hatching of the adult flea. The adult flea usually lives for less than 20 days but due to the short life cycle and high egg production, many thousands of fleas can form in a room within a matter of a few weeks of a single female flea being introduced into a household.
It is important to understand the life cycle to be able to control the problem. The key to success, if fleas are a problem in the house, is to tackle all stages of the life cycle using appropriate products and techniques.
Injectable products every six months by injection by a veterinary surgeon work by preventing the flea pupa from emerging from the egg. This preparation is extremely effective and has a high safety margin. Where there are no fleas in the house this product alone should prevent any household infestation so long as all dogs and cats in the house are treated at the same time every month. In houses that are infested with flea eggs and larvae, it will reduce the egg and larval infestation of the house to a very low level after a few months of continuous use. The manufacturers guarantee it’s efficacy but please remember that although it prevents flea breeding it does not actually kill fleas.
Many of these are produced as an aerosol and will kill adult fleas on the cat. Other products are produced as a monthly ‘spot-on’ treatment applied to the back of the neck and are very easy to apply, even in cats.
These products are used to spray your house. All the rooms where your cat may have access must be treated. It has two functions: Firstly, a chemical which kills any adult fleas in the room and secondly an ‘insect growth and development inhibitor’ which prevents the eggs and larvae progressing to their next stage and some can last for up to 7 months. Many of these products adhere at the base of the carpet where the flea larvae live. Spraying your rooms with this product twice a year and you will substantially help flea control.
Thorough vacuuming has been shown to remove up to 20% larvae and 32-59% of eggs from a carpet. A good tip is to spray the inside of your vacuum cleaner bag with an environmental insecticide in the vacuum bag.
Do bear in mind that a very high percentage of skin conditions in cats are caused by fleas.
We would like to introduce you to the Pet Health Club from Isabelle Vets that aims to bring you peace of mind by covering nearly all of the routine costs and procedures that are not covered by pet insurance.