THE FLEA IN CATS: THAT LITTLE GREAT ENEMY

They don’t fly, but they run a lot and jump. How they jump! They are the best jumpers on earth! In relation to their diminutive size, fleas are a great little enemy. If we detect the presence of these small parasites in our pet, it is important that we begin, as soon as possible, the deworming process to prevent the infection from increasing and also the plague from spreading to our house.

The fleas that we find most frequently on cats is the so-called Ctenocephalides felis. It is a parasite of just a few millimeters, flattened and elongated, dark in color, and very hard – it is almost impossible to kill it by crushing it with your fingertips.

How is the life cycle of the flea in cats?

Within two days of having installed in its new host, our cat, the female flea can lay from 30 to 50 eggs per day that will fall from the animal’s fur along with the flea’s feces. These feces accumulate remains of the undigested blood and will be the sustenance of the larva allowing their development. The larvae will hide in places away from light, such as carpets or upholstery, where they will evolve into chrysalis wrapped in a sticky cocoon. Inside the cocoon, the flea will reach adulthood and emerge within seconds and jump on the approaching host.

The flea feeds on the blood of our cat. The first thing you will do is inoculate your saliva in the wound that you have produced to prevent the blood from clotting and ensure that the wound does not close and, thus, be able to suck for a longer time and in the same place.

What symptoms can we see in a cat with fleas?

The main symptom of a flea infestation is itching, which will cause our cat to scratch, lick or bite frequently, and wounds or eczema may appear. If we observe these behaviors, we must explore their body for fleas. A flea is difficult to locate with the naked eye due to its small size and rapid movements. However, we can more easily find their droppings and thus detect the infestation. If we comb the cat on a light surface and collect the dark crumbs that have fallen from its fur with a damp handkerchief, we will observe that the crumbs dissolve and red spots appear due to the blood that forms the excrement. If we have found these signs of the presence of fleas.

How do fleas affect the health of the cat?

Fleas are not only uncomfortable, but can also have harmful effects on the animal. Derived from the loss of sucked blood, symptoms of anemia, weakness and even death can appear in kittens. As rejection of the bite, an allergic reaction with severe itching and occasionally skin diseases may appear. During grooming, the cat can ingest a flea and transfer the infectious agents that it has carried to its digestive system, including tapeworm eggs and some bacteria that can damage the cat’s red blood cells. One of the most important preventive measures is to have the house and the environment free of fleas. So, once we have freed our cat from the uncomfortable fleas, we must make sure that no other fleas are still present in the spaces where it usually sleeps, plays, rests or scratches itself.