When caring for a cat in your home, one of the most relevant things to ask yourself is if the house is flea-free. Is it likely that my cat will have fleas? Fleas can jump from one species of animal to another and can be very difficult to eliminate.
Fleas are one of the most problematic issues cats have to face in their daily lives. These parasites are very harmful to cats and have the knack of making their lives miserable if left untreated.
Kittens, in particular, are in danger when infested by fleas. Unlike adults, kittens have a more difficult time dealing with extreme discomfort. They are more susceptible to the viruses and other diseases that fleas carry. Pet owners must be vigilant in caring for their kittens and cats against the onslaught of fleas.
As a pet owner, you must know the tell-tale signs that your cat has fleas. If you are armed with the knowledge of determining if your cat has fleas, you can take decisive action to help your cat handle these parasites. Here are 12 signs that your cat has fleas:
Table of Contents
- 1. When your cat is frantically scratching
- 2. When your cat has tiny moving insects on their body
- 3. When your cat has scabs and red skin lesions
- 4. When your cat has flea dirt on their fur
- 5. When your cat has red dots on its bed
- 6. When your cat starts having bald spots from overgrooming
- 7. When your cat avoids some places in your home
- 8. When your cat is restless and agitated
- 9. When your cat has a change in appetite
- 10. When your cat has muscle loss
- 11. When your cat has tapeworms in their anus
- 12. When your vet or cat-groomer says so!
1. When your cat is frantically scratching
Flea bites for cats can be unbearably itchy. This will be one of the most telling signs that your cat has fleas. A flea-infested cat would scratch their body with their paws to alleviate the itching.
In extreme cases, cats will resort to biting their fur and skin. This is very harmful to your cat and must be stopped. Cats can become very frantic when scratching themselves. It is crucial to support your cat when it is undergoing this problem.
You can temporarily relieve them by bathing them with a cat flea and tick shampoo that treats their skin and removes fleas. While not a permanent fix, this will at least allow needed respite from frantic scratching and biting.
2. When your cat has tiny moving insects on their body
Examine your cat’s fur and see if there are tiny pin-sized black and red insects latched. These are the fleas themselves! Visual confirmation is the most effective way to know if your cat has fleas. While it is true that fleas are almost invisible because of their size, they can still be detected if you look closely enough.
If your cat is heavily infested by fleas, there’s a possibility that you’ll also see fleas in their egg and larva stage on your cat’s fur or bedding. Usually, fleas tend to flock in the cat’s neck, lower back, the back of the hind legs, and the base of the tail. They enjoy the warmer and less exposed areas of your cat’s body.
Not seeing adult fleas in your cat’s fur does not necessarily mean that your cat is flea-free. Fleas can stay in your cat in all stages of its life cycle, from being an egg to being a larva, a pupa, and to becoming an adult. Fleas are highly resilient creatures and can survive and thrive to adulthood when left alone as an egg.
3. When your cat has scabs and red skin lesions
An obvious sign that your cat’s skin is deteriorating because of fleas is if it develops scabs and red skin lesions. When flea saliva is distributed when flea bites, it can cause extreme redness and inflammation to your cat’s sensitive skin. These lesions can appear all over your cat’s skin and be very itchy.
Cats develop an intense allergic reaction to fleas, a condition called flea allergy dermatitis. Infected scabs and lesions can develop pus which can spread across your cat’s body.
In extreme cases, the help of a medical professional such as a veterinarian is needed to help the poor cat. The goal is to stop the spread of the skin disease and prevent the scabs from being infected. Cats can be more exposed to various harmful elements, so it’s imperative to minimize their exposure if they are experiencing this.
4. When your cat has flea dirt on their fur
Flea dirt is the dark pepper-like flecks of flea droppings. This fecal matter can be seen on the cat’s fur, neck, and rump. It can also be found on your cat’s brush. To differentiate them from regular dirt, you can put some of these specks in a white paper towel and steam them with hot water. The flea dirt will turn red because it’s technically made up of processed blood they drank from your cat.
Flea dirt is a tell-tale sign of fleas, even if you cannot see any fleas on your cat’s fur. Fleas can jump and hide whenever they want, but they leave solid fecal trails behind as evidence of their presence.
5. When your cat has red dots on its bed
Red dots or red spots on your cat’s bedding are probably flea dirt that turned red because of the moisture or from your cat’s warm body.
If you wish to check if your cat or kitten has fleas, use white or any light fabric on their bedding. Any flea dirt or blood extract can be captured. Use white paper across your cat’s area for added measure.
The goal is to determine if your cat has fleas. Once you confirm this, you can take note of it so you can report this to your vet on your next visit. This can be helpful information that your vet would appreciate when trying to determine how well your cat is coping with the fleas.
6. When your cat starts having bald spots from overgrooming
Grooming has always been a cat’s favorite pastime. This is how cats keep themselves clean every day. While some pet owners tend to bathe their cats at least once a month, cats can keep themselves tidy through grooming. However, if a cat is infested with fleas, its grooming tends to be more aggressive.
Cats may repeatedly lick, bite, or chew on a specific area in their body where they feel most irritated or itchy. If you notice your cat developing bald patches through overgrooming, it probably has fleas. The usual areas for extreme grooming are the back of their hind legs, neck, and tail base.
Without intervention, fleas may multiply and spread, causing your cat to have more bald patches across its body. Suppose you find your cat experiencing extreme discomfort and are compensating through excessive grooming. In that case, it’s wise to notify your trusted veterinarian immediately.
7. When your cat avoids some places in your home
When you notice your cat starting to avoid specific parts of your home, you can be sure that fleas may be one of its main reasons. For the most part, fleas tend to thrive in a warm environment. This is why they love infesting cats and dogs. Additionally, they can damage carpets and furniture.
Cats are instinctively cautious. In general, they avoid places where they feel they have acquired fleas. If your cat starts to avoid a carpeted area or a piece of furniture they used to like, then that’s probably infested with fleas.
Start vacuuming your floors and furniture, especially the hard-to-reach areas under the cushions and other nooks and crannies. Consider replacing your old carpets, and try different materials less welcoming to fleas.
Spritz flea spray in your carpet, bedding, and furniture regularly to discourage fleas from reinfesting those areas.
8. When your cat is restless and agitated
Fleas can cause profound behavioral changes in cats, which can be due to irritation from the fleas themselves or indirectly from their environment. This irritation can lead to increased growling, shaking of the head, and even aggressive rubbing against surfaces. If you notice any of these changes in your cat, you must take steps to eliminate the fleas as soon as possible.
Domesticated indoor cats, especially kittens, are not used to dealing with parasites daily compared to feral wild cats. Being largely unequipped, our cats depend on us to intervene should they get infested with fleas.
Be understanding to your cat if it becomes extra restless, edgy, or agitated as they try to find ways to alleviate the irritation caused by fleas. If this restlessness persists, it’s time to seek professional medical help.
9. When your cat has a change in appetite
If you notice that a cat is not feeling well, they either overeat or stop eating. This is true for almost all situations where the cat comes down with something. Fleas can be one of those reasons.
Cats and kittens are highly emotional animals. Their physical and mental state can manifest when they lose their appetite. Not eating means the cat can be in a lot of pain or discomfort. You must treat this behavior as something amiss with your cat as a pet owner.
While fleas are only one of the many possible reasons why your cat has changed its appetite, it’s always prudent to consult with your veterinarian. This is to ensure that there are no other underlying reasons behind this.
10. When your cat has muscle loss
Your cat or kitten may suffer from low red blood cell count or anemia if exposed to flea infestation for a long time. This can be seen when your cat shows significant muscle loss and pale gums. If your cat has become lethargic and weak, this may be caused by infected blood.
Mycoplasma haemofelis is a blood-borne parasite known to be transmitted by fleas. Medical intervention must be administered to restore your cat’s health. Kittens are especially susceptible to this because their bodies are still so small and have yet to fully mature and form complete resistance.
11. When your cat has tapeworms in their anus
Tapeworms are a direct effect of flea infestation. When you see substances resembling rice grains around your cat’s anus, bedding, or even feces, it’s most definite that your cat has tapeworms. These rice-like things are egg packets where tapeworms are released. This is a crucial part of their life cycle.
Another way cats can develop tapeworms is when they eat animals with tapeworms. However, in most cases, particularly with domesticated indoor cats, the cause is when they unknowingly ingest fleas while grooming themselves.
Either way, with fleas and tapeworms, your cat is in serious trouble if it hosts numerous parasites in its body.
12. When your vet or cat-groomer says so!
Veterinarians and pet groomers are around many cats and dogs and are likelier to spot fleas in your cat. Chances are these pet workers are well-versed in dealing with fleas and can assist you in helping your cat deal with fleas.
Vets, in particular, can prescribe preventive measures to help alleviate this problem in your cat. Remember, it’s always advisable to consult a medical professional when dealing with medicine and chemicals. Always think of your cat’s welfare. Do everything you can to ensure your beloved cat’s excellent flea-free quality of life.