These 5 Signs Might Mean Your Cat Has Fleas
Here's what to do ASAP 🚨
If it’s the summertime and your cat’s been itching herself a lot lately, you might be wondering if she has fleas.
Even if your cat stays indoors, fleas are still a possibility.
But lots of skin conditions can cause itching — so how can you be sure fleas are to blame?
Here are some telltale signs that your cat has fleas, according to Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian in Colorado.
Lots of itching
If your cat is itching more than normal, that’s a good indication that she has fleas.
Cats tend to itch themselves pretty often as a part of their normal grooming routine. But if she has fleas, it might be happening more frequently.
You might also see her scratching certain areas of the body a lot (most likely the hind legs or the base of the tail), and she may even start chewing on herself with her teeth to soothe the area.
If your cat has fleas, you’ll also see her licking herself a lot more.
Just like with the extra itching and chewing, the excessive grooming is in an attempt to relieve herself and get rid of the fleas on her coat.
She might even do this too well, since all that licking can make it hard to actually see fleas on her fur. “Because cats are so good at self-grooming, it can be hard to find evidence that they have fleas,” Dr. Coates told The Dodo.
Thinning hair or bald spots
All that scratching, chewing and licking can lead to thinning hair or bald spots on some areas of your cat’s body.
If it’s bad enough, the skin under the hair might appear red or develop a sore.
You see a flea or two
It’s actually not super likely that you’ll see a live flea on your cat because cats are just so good at grooming themselves (and she might be doing it a lot more if she has fleas).
“If you get lucky, you might see a flea skitter by if you run your hands through your cat’s coat, parting the hair to look directly at the skin,” Dr. Coates said.
But “you’re more likely to see flea dirt (poop),” she added.
There’s flea dirt in her coat
While it’s unlikely you’ll see an actual flea on your cat, there’s a good chance that you’ll see flea dirt in your cat’s coat.
“It looks like coffee grounds,” Dr. Coates said.
So, where does flea dirt usually show up on your cat? Dr. Coates recommends looking in “hard-to-groom areas, like the top of a cat’s rump, right in front of the tail.”
What to do if your cat has fleas
The best way to avoid fleas is to prevent them. Treating your cat with a monthly flea and tick preventative medication is the only way to protect your cat against fleas.
(If your cat was taking flea medication on schedule and still got fleas, you might want to consider changing her flea and tick medication.)
But in any case, since your cat already has fleas, you’ll want to look for a medication that kills adult fleas, sterilizes flea eggs and prevents immature fleas from maturing into adults, Dr. Coates said.
You can also give your cat a bath with flea shampoo to relieve her itchy skin.
Your veterinarian can help you figure out the best additional products to use based on your cat’s age, health and lifestyle.
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