Monday, June 11, 2012

Tips for Fighting Fleas in Cats

Fleas are annoying, but they're also a health risk. They can carry disease and make you and your cat horribly uncomfortable once an full-blown infestation is under way. There are two things you can do: prevent the infestation in the first place, or deal with it once it occurs.

The best way to fight fleas is to prevent them in the first place. Flea prevention should be a concern all year, not simply in the spring or summer. You never know when the weather will get just warm enough to help those little fleas along.

When you begin a program to prevent fleas, treat all your pets. Every cat, every dog, and any other furred companions you might have. Treating only one or two pets won't really help. There are many products on the market today, including flea collars, that can help your pets stay flea free. Talk to your veterinarian about other ways to prevent fleas in your cats.

However, sometimes those little fleas will hitch a ride on your cats despite your best efforts. Fleas cause the most common skin disease in cats, known as flea allergy dermatitis. Fleas can cause small red bumps (called hives) on the skin. These become itchy and sometimes even painful to the touch. Your cat may become so uncomfortable that he scratches or bites himself raw, leaving the skin open to infections.

This is obviously not a good thing for your feline companions, so you'll have to get rid of the fleas immediately. If you see even a single flea or any sign of flea dirt, assume that you have thousands of fleas, larva, and eggs in and around your house. You'll need to treat pets and all living areas, inside and out, at the same time to stop the infestation.

Get yourself a good flea shampoo for your pets and use it according to the package directions. You'll also want to add flea collars to all your pets to help repel the insects. But this alone won't really help. The fleas are already in your house, just waiting for another opportunity to make everyone miserable. If you can afford it, hire a licensed pest control company to take care of the fleas.

You can also tackle the problem yourself, if you're willing. Start by vacuuming every nook and cranny of your home. Pay special attention to any cracks and corners. Then vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum before disposing of the contents in a sealed garbage bag. There are some very good sprays and foggers on the market for dealing with the fleas you miss. Follow the manufacturer's directions when using these products. You'll probably have to leave the house for several hours while these products start working. Take your pets with you when you do so no one is exposed to toxic chemicals unnecessarily.

Treatment and prevention of fleas should be based on your pets and their lifestyles. Cats that go outside or come into contact with outside animals are at higher risk and may need more prevention or more aggressive treatment. Speak to your vet about risk factors. Don't put this off or you might find yourself with thousands of unexpected guests.

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