Fleas. No one loves them, especially your cat. Cat flea control comes in two parts - treating your cat and treating your home.
We will go through the steps of both your home and your pet, and the treatment options available for both.
First, what are fleas? Fleas are external parasites that feed on the blood and tissue of a host. The host can be an animal or a person, fleas aren't picky. If you see small red dots on your ankles or body after walking across the carpet or sitting in furniture, you have probably been bitten by fleas.
There are several types of fleas - sometimes the smaller darker ones are called "cat fleas" and the larger, more brown ones are called "dog fleas". Your cat could have either, or both, of these types of fleas - fleas are happy to land on any warm blooded host.
Step one is treating your pet. All cats and dogs in the
house must be treated for fleas once fleas have entered your home.
There are many products on the market for flea treatment - powders,
collars, and sprays. Personally, I prefer Advantage cat flea control.
Advantage is easy to apply and it lasts for 30 days at a time.
Read our Advantage flea control tips and why it works.
I prefer Advantage because when flea powders and sprays are applied to a cat, their first instinct is to groom themselves to get the foreign stuff off them. This results in the cat ingesting a large amount of the spray or powder and eating insecticide is not healthy.
Collars, even the ones with medication that goes to the cat's system, tend to be rigid and can catch on things - plus not as much of the cat flea control can be absorbed through the fur coat. Flea collars can also cause contact dermatitis. Advantage is one dose of medication that is based on your cat's weight to prevent overdose. Do not combine Advantage with other cat flea control products on your pet! Also, do not use products meant for dogs on cats - these products have a higher dose of insecticide.
Next, your home! Fleas like to hide and lay their eggs in warm, dark areas that are not heavily walked on or disturbed. The spot where your baseboards meet the floor is a hot spot for fleas, as is where any heavy furniture that does not get moved meets the floor (like the edge of the couch).
Pet beds or any spots where your pet spends a lot of time will need cleaning. Wash bed linens and comforters if they touch the floor, or if your pets sleep on them, and dry them in a hot dryer until totally dry. Piles of clothing or pillows on the floor will also need washing and a hot dryer. The heat of the dryer will kill any eggs. If anything can't go in a hot dryer it will need dry cleaning.
Vacuum your house before spraying. A good trick is to
sprinkle some room flea powder into the vacuum cleaner bag before
starting - it will prevent fleas from breeding in the bag. Vacuum
hardwood floors too - fleas and eggs can hide in the cracks between the
boards. Throw the vacuum bag out right after use.
Use a room flea spray and tackle the baseboards and furniture edges. Confine pets to another area of the house while you spray so they don't walk in the wet spray and get it on their paws. Ventilate the room while you spray. Spray baseboards and edges from about a foot away. You can do a wide sweep with the spray over areas that get walked on frequently. Spray furniture, lifting the cushions and getting in the cracks. Moving furniture like couches and chairs and spraying the floor underneath is also helpful - fleas like dark warm spaces.
Cold weather can make fleas dormant.
If you move into a new house and you know there were pets before, you may want to discuss giving one month's worth of Advantage to your pets with your vet as a preventative. You may also went to begin Advantage or other cat flea control early in the year before the ground warms up to prevent fleas in your home if your pets go outside.