Fleas can affect any cat, even clean ones, as they are transported from other cats. In some circumstances, fleas can be picked up outside the house and transported inside. Cats can acquire cat fleas, dog fleas or human fleas. Fleas bite cats and infect the skin, most commonly causing the cat to scratch a great deal; by that time the flea eggs have possibly already hatched to create an infestation.
Cat ticks are similar to fleas in that they are blood suckers, but ticks live permanently on the cat unless they either grow large enough to drop off or they are killed through treatment. A common method of cats acquiring ticks is from hedgehogs.
Prevention is easier than cure
The most effective method of fighting off fleas and ticks is a preventive one, usually by applying a liquid treatment to the cat’s neck on a monthly basis. Such treatments kill any flea or tick as soon as it appears.
Looking for Fleas or Ticks
If you are not using a preventive treatment, the next best measure is to check your cat regularly for signs of fleas, using a flea comb. It is unlikely that you will see a flea unless there are already a number present. Fleas and ticks appear as tiny black or dark brown insects. The more usual sign of fleas are their droppings which are dried blood, either on the skin or in the comb.
Ticks present themselves as raised spots on the skin, best found by running hands over the skin. The tick’s legs will often be visible protruding from the spot – the legs may be moving!
Cat fleas are usually found around a cat’s nose, eyes or ears or often in the warm spots where the cat’s legs meet its body.
Removing Fleas or Ticks
Ticks are best removed by a vet, who will best know how to ensure that the head of the tick is removed from the cat’s skin.
Getting fleas and ticks under control will involve using treatments of the preventive type. Depending on the scale of the infestation, in escalating levels then flea collars or flea baths would then be used. It is fairly common once a cat is infested to have to apply spray or powder to the cat’s bedding and any soft furnishings including chairs and beds in your house. In extreme cases, a flea or tick “bomb” can be used on the house but this requires a 24-hour period during which any pets, including cats, will have to be absent.