There are times when owners think they’ve come across a single flea after petting or grooming their cats.
And on the face of it, one flea doesn’t necessarily mean that the cat is suffering from an infestation.
Given how mobile fleas are, it may be the case that the parasite launched itself on the cat’s fur from the ground, an outdoor object, or via another animal host that happened to be passing.
But there are a few things to keep in mind here.
First of all, keep in mind that cats are fastidious groomers – it’s therefore possible that he’s licked away any evidence of additional parasites.
It also might be the case that the flea got onto your cat from a surface within your house.
Additionally, your cat may be carrying eggs in his fur, or that single flea may be carrying some too.
So although a lone flea isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, should you come across one, you’ll want to examine your cat (see below) and search your house thoroughly.
If you have any other pets, be sure to check them too.
How Quickly Do Fleas Multiply?
Really quickly, is the short answer. Fleas are known to lay eggs at a daily rate of 40 to 50 for up to 50 days.
Thus, just one female flea has the ability to produce about 2000 eggs during her short but busy existence.
How Many Fleas are Considered an Infestation?
As we’ve already seen, even one might be a problem. If you find two or more fleas, then the chances are that it’s time to invest in some flea treatment.
Generally speaking, an infested cat often won’t have any more than 20 fleas, although this number can go inflate to as much as 150.
While 20 might not seem like a whole lot, consider the egg laying production rates of your typical female flea.
If she produces 2000 on a daily basis, your home could become the perfect habitat for up to 40,000 eggs.
A Flea’s Journey
These eggs are laid in a cat’s fur which can fall off onto the carpet, in to bedding or furniture. Within around 10 days, the eggs hatch into larvae which then settle into the carpet, or nooks and crannies around the house.
Here, they feed on debris and waste matter such as the feces of adult fleas. After about a week, the well-nourished larvae spin a cocoon and the pupal stage begins.
From these cocoons emerge adult fleas. If conditions aren’t favourable, the fleas will stay put. Once they’re ready, they’ll begin searching for a suitable host.
How to Examine a Cat for Fleas
To examine your cat for fleas, separate the hairs of his coat and look for small, blackish/brown flecks. Be sure to check around the cat’s rump, neck, groin area and tail.
Fleas move extremely fast so you might not see them with the naked eye. Instead, you may see their feces – this looks like tiny pepper grains. White specks are likely going to be the eggs.
If your cat has dark fur, put him on a white towel and brush him. Any dark specks that appear on the towel may indicate an infestation.
Signs of a Flea Infestation
- Excessive Scratching and Biting
- Excessive Grooming
- Hair Loss
- Signs of Agitation
- Skin Lesions/Scab
- Tiny Specks on Fur
- Red Spots in Cat’s Bedding
How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats
To properly treat your cat for fleas, you should examine all of the pets in your household.
Otherwise, there’s a substantial risk of re-infection.
Once you’re satisfied that the flea infestation has been localized, contact your vet for advice.
The vet will likely assess your cat’s age and health, as well as the extent of the infestation.
The toxicity levels of flea treatments can vary so it’s important to purchase a product that’s suitable for your cat, especially if you have a kitten with a flea problem.
Flea Treatment Options
There’s a variety of flea treatment options available which work in a variety of ways.
Flea combs are another great way to get rid of fleas, as well as their eggs and excrement from your cat’s coat. The comb traps the fleas and their waste in its narrow teeth.
Unfortunately, combs should not be relied upon as a standalone treatment. A topical solution of some kind is going to be needed too.
Long-term topical treatments are probably the best option when it comes to getting rid of leas.. These can be purchased over the counter and usually come in vials.
You merely open the vial and pour the liquid on the back of your cat’s neck. The liquid then spreads throughout the cat’s coat, usually over a period of twenty four hours.
These days, topical flea treatments are a lot more effective than shampoos and a lot less messy!
How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your House
If after searching your home, you suspect you’ve got a serious flea infestation, you’re going to need the vacuum cleaner.
We’re not talking about a casual vacuuming job here though! You’ll need to vacuum under the furniture, on the furniture, under cushions, on the cat bedding, human bedding and windowsills.
Also vacuum any cat toys or accessories including scratching posts and cat trees.
This is bar far the best option you’ve got for eradicating fleas from your home. In fact, researchers have found that vacuuming kills up to 96% of adult fleas as well as 100% of the flea larvae and pupae.
Hopefully, the above has answered your questions regarding cat flea infestations. Although unpleasant for your cat, rest assured that the problem can be dealt with relatively easily.
Just remember to consult your vet before purchasing any sort of treatment.