Prevention is better than cure when it comes to flea control for your cat. Find out why you need to take year-round preventative measures against fleas to ensure your pet and family are safe and itch-free.
What are fleas and how do they infest my home?
Fleas are small, parasitic insects that can jump 150 times their own height, or up to 17cm high to attach to a cat’s skin and coat. Each adult cat flea can lay up to 40-50 eggs per day which mostly accumulates in the pet’s bedding. Eggs become larvae which are more resistant to insecticides than adult fleas and they also avoid being killed by burying deep within carpet or cracks of floorboards. Larvae can lay dormant for a period of weeks to months. They begin to emerge once temperature and humidity rises, along with mechanical pressures or shadows created by a pet walking past. This is how an apparent flea outbreak occurs which can be very difficult to get under control.
Ensuring your pet is regularly treated with a flea product can minimise the risk of a flea outbreak and any associated problems such as flea allergy dermatitis or transmission of other parasites. Make sure to use our quick and easy Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder to understand the best parasite treatments for your cat and to avoid having a nasty flea infestation on your hands.
When is peak flea season? Why does my cat need flea prevention all year round?
It’s true that flea problems on cats are more common in warmer weather, but they don’t go away when winter rolls around. These parasites are surprisingly resilient and can lay dormant in your cat’s environment for up to six months, ready to hatch when the weather heats up. Come springtime they begin to hatch, so you could consider spring/summer as the peak flea seasons. Keeping up to date with your cat’s flea prevention will help avoid an infestation during the peak seasons.
What is the best flea treatment for cats?
There are a number of products available at Petbarn to help control fleas on cats and reduce the risk of a flea infestation. Over-the-counter prevention can be administered as a spot-on, tablet, collar or spray. These products have unique benefits with some products covering a combination of fleas, ticks and worms, and others only control fleas. Some products will also cover mites and lice. Your friendly local Petbarn team member can help you select the right product, or you can use the Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder for a recommendation.
Some popular brands include:
- Bravecto is a convenient option being a spot-on that protects against flea and paralysis ticks for up to three months. Bravecto Plus is another option that gives additional coverage against heartworm, some intestinal worms and ear mites. It must be applied every two months.
- Revolution is safe to use on kittens from six weeks of age and will protect your cat against fleas, lice and mites, while also preventing heartworm. Revolution Plus also covers against paralysis ticks and is safe to use from eight weeks of age.
- Advocate is another popular choice to protect against fleas, heartworm, lungworm and most intestinal worms as a monthly spot on treatment which can be used on kittens from nine weeks old.
- Frontline and Advantage are popular choices for spot-on flea control.
- Comfortis can be given orally as tablets.
- Seresto is a great long lasting option as it protects against fleas and tick for up to eight months. This collar can be used on kittens from 10 weeks old.
What are signs that my cat has a flea infestation?
A sign of flea infestation is ’flea dirt’ found on your cat’s skin and coat – flea faeces that resemble dirt or pepper. If you suspect a flea infestation, use a flea comb to brush through the coat, particularly along the back towards the tail. The comb may then be tipped onto a piece of paper and dampened to reveal digested blood from the flea feeding on your cat.
If your cat contracts fleas, they’ll commonly experience skin irritation and itching. Some sufferers can experience flea allergy dermatitis, which involves itching, hair loss, skin reddening, scabs and possible secondary bacterial infection. Severe flea infestation can also cause anaemia, particularly in kittens. Fleas can also spread the flea tapeworm and another type of parasite known as rickettsia.
If not controlled, fleas can infest your entire home leading to an itchy problem for you and your entire family.
How do I control a flea infestation in my home?
Even the most conscientious pet owner may have to deal with a flea problem from time to time. If your home has been affected by a flea infestation, it is best to act fast to reduce the spreading of fleas. To combat the infestation, your cat is likely to need multiple flea treatments with an emphasis on treating the environment, as 95% of the flea population is found here. This involves vacuuming all surfaces, steam-cleaning carpets, washing bedding and leaving it to dry in the sun. Multiple applications of insecticides, ensuring your pet is kept away for a safe time period (closely check the instructions of the product being used). Outside needs to be treated with an insecticide and making sure to fence off any dirt patches as flea larvae can lay dormant here. Don’t forget about the car.
You may wash your cat with a shampoo if they will tolerate it. However, make sure not to apply a spot-on within 48 hours of the bath, as this reduces its effectiveness. An oral product can be more effective as can’t be washed off, but this also depends on how easily your cat will take a pill.
Best way to control fleas on cats
By maintaining a year-round program and always being diligent in observing for signs of fleas, you’ll have a much better chance of avoiding fleas becoming a big problem in your household. Use our Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder for cats to understand the best parasite prevention for your cat based on their age, size and lifestyle.