Oh Catvocates, this can be a frustrating and itchy problem. Fleas not only live on your cat, but can remain in their environment for years! Ick! Understanding how the life cycle of the flea works will help you to get rid of the fleas in your environment for good!
Adult fleas live on your cat (actually, they live on cats, dogs and rodents). In the warmth of your cat’s fur, they feed on its blood, mate, and produce 40-50 flea eggs per day. These eggs roll off of your cat and fall onto your carpet, bedding and furniture. There they hatch and within 10 days, they become larva. Flea larvae make a cocoon, where they pupate. But it’s no butterfly emerging from this cocoon, it’s a fully-formed flea. This can happen any time between 7 and 174 days. In the teeny tiny world of parasites, your environment is teeming with eggs, larvae and pupae.
To deal with this problem we need a 3-pronged approach.
1. All of the animals in the house must be treated with a monthly preventative. There are lots to choose from, but not all of them will be right for your cat. Please ask your vet for their recommendation for a flea prevention treatment that is safe for your cat’s weight, age and medical condition. (http://nobowlcat.com/blogs/the-catvocate/88186822-safe-flea-prevention)
Your pets should stay on a monthly flea prevention treatment, as this (as the name suggests…) will prevent future infestations.
2. Welcome to the world of vacuuming. For the next 2-3 weeks, you will need to vacuum daily to remove as many eggs, larvae and pupae from the environment as possible. Vacuum carpets and furniture – removing cushions and getting between cracks. Don’t forget under the bed, behind the sofa, in the closet, or anywhere else your pets spend time. Be sure to put the contents of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag and throw the sealed bag away in the outdoor trash. Wash all bedding and fabrics on high heat and dry on high heat in the dryer – if possible. Does your cat spend time in the basket of towels? You’ll have to wash that too. It will be a long few weeks.
3. Chemicals. Listen, I don’t like to use environmental chemicals if I don’t have to. It is usually possible to rid your world of fleas with steps 1 and 2, but sometimes it is not enough. If you are at your wits end, there are exterminators, foggers, sprays and powders. Again, check with your vet as these may be safe for your cat, or they may not. A quick phone call to your vet will keep your cat safe.
Let’s put an end to itchy, creepy, crawly fleas. Armed with this knowledge, a good vacuum and some elbow grease, you will achieve a flea-free home for you and your cats!