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Worried about fleas on your cat? Find out more in our guide, including how to spot them and how to stop them.

Fleas are little parasites that bite your cat and cause a lot of itching. They can be a real problem, especially if your cat has a flea allergy.

You’re more likely to find fleas on your pet during summer when it’s warm, but their eggs can be in your home at any time. Centrally heated homes with fitted carpets provide ideal conditions – warm and humid – for fleas to develop all year round.

How do cats get fleas?

Fleas can spread lots of different ways. If your cat comes into contact with another cat who has fleas, the fleas are likely to jump onto your cat. They then come home, where the flea will lay its eggs and more will hatch.

They can also easily pick up fleas in places like catteries or the vet, or even off any rodents they might chase while out and about. Once they have a flea on them it doesn’t take long for more to appear.

Mostly, flea problems come from your house itself. Fleas pupate and can lie dormant for up to six months in your carpets and soft furnishings which is why you should always treat your home for fleas as well as your cat.

Download the life cycle of a flea

How to tell if your cat has fleas

There are a few symptoms of fleas in cats. These include:

  • scratching more than usual
  • flea bites on their skin
  • ‘flea dirt’ – dark flea droppings
  • flea bites on you

If your cat has a flea allergy you may also notice:

  • hair loss due to excessive scratching and licking
  • inflamed skin
  • small scabs, especially around their neck and the base of their tail

If you comb your cat with a fine-tooth flea comb you might find a lot of flea dirt. If your cat has any symptoms of fleas, contact your vet for treatment.

Fleas on kittens

All cats can get fleas, no matter their age. That’s why you should make sure you treat your kitten for fleas with an appropriate product. Ask your vet if you’re not sure what to get.

Even if you are keeping your kitten indoors until they are neutered, you should still treat them for fleas. Fleas can come into the home on us and can live in soft furnishings for a really long time because they don‘t actually live on your kitten. Kittens are still at risk of getting fleas, even indoors.

The symptoms of fleas in kittens are the same as a cat would get and are listed above. However, kittens are at higher risk of becoming unwell from fleas. If your kitten has a bad infestation, it could cause anaemia because of how much blood the fleas are taking. Make sure you take them to the vet if they show any signs of illness and keep up to date with a kitten appropriate flea treatment.

How to get rid of cat fleas

To treat cat fleas, you’ll need to get a proper flea treatment from your vet. These are guaranteed to kill any fleas on your pet and protects them for up to a few months after, too, depending on the product used. You should regularly get a flea treatment from your vet, even if your cat doesn’t have fleas as this will help to prevent them.

You should also treat your home for fleas, as they don’t actually lay their eggs on your cat. Fleas lay their eggs in carpets and soft furnishings. You can buy sprays to treat your home but make sure you follow the instructions and keep your cat out of the room you are treating.

Some flea treatments available ‘off the shelf’ in supermarkets and pet shops aren’t effective at preventing fleas. That is because they contain less effective ingredients than a prescription flea product.

Flea collars are largely ineffective at preventing fleas, however there are now some better veterinary prescribed products available. Speak to your vet if you are unsure which flea treatment is best for your cat.

Never use a dog flea treatment on your cat. They often contain a chemical that is toxic to cats (but not dogs) and can make your cat seriously ill.

Does my indoor cat need treating for fleas?

Yes! You should absolutely give your cat regular flea treatments even if they do not go outdoors. As fleas can easily be brought in on clothes, you or any visitors may accidentally bring them into your home or they may already be living in your carpets.

Can humans get cat fleas?

Humans can’t get fleas. If your cat has fleas they may bite you, but they’re unlikely to keep doing so as they feed on your cat’s blood not human blood.

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