Cat scratching its leg

Fleas and ticks are commonly found on cats in this area. The simplest method to avoid these pests is to use a prevention program. Selection options are vast so discussing options and goals is vital to making an informed decision. There is so much fear regarding parasites it is also important to talk with our staff if your cat has been exposed.

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How do I know if my cat has fleas?

Fleas are very difficult to see directly. If your cat has fleas, the number one sign will be incessant scratching, especially around the ears, neck, and rump. Sometimes you may observe hair loss or scabs due to allergy flea dermatitis. You may see flea dirt (a polite term for flea feces): if you comb your cat over a paper towel, you’ll see black dots fall, if you moisten the towel the specks will turn red.

Why is treating and preventing fleas so important?

Treatment and prevention of fleas are vital to a cat’s overall comfort and quality of life. Imagine experiencing tiny bites constantly – the itch must be annoying. Some cats have an allergy to these bites. They develop a generalized rash with bleeding sores and an intolerable itch. Aside from the primary discomfort, a skin allergy creates a cascade of immune mediators that further weakens the skin for more secondary infections. Extreme numbers can actually impact blood volume, so pets are anemic. Fleas can also carry Dipylidium tapeworm, so your cat’s intestinal health can also be affected. Finally, there is the creepy factor – knowing there are thousands of little-uninvited creatures in your home may be enough to come to talk to us about flea control.

What are some simple steps for treating fleas in your senior cat?

If your cat is already a victim to these external parasites, you may be overwhelmed with the challenge of controlling an infestation. The first step is to treat all fur-bearing pets with the appropriate flea produce. Some flea medications are actually quite toxic to cats so please read the packaging closely – better still, please come and speak with our staff about comparing different flea products. You may also want to treat the environment, namely your home. Flea eggs are highly resistant to treatment and very hard to reach under wood trim, etc. There are sprays for the home at our clinic or we can discuss how your selection in treatments can affect the environmental control. Studies have also found daily vacuuming (and emptying vacuum) significantly drops the level of fleas without increasing the chemical burden in your home. Senior cats usually undergo the same treatment routine, but we may need to consider skin fragility or organ function.

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