Cat flea is a close relative of rat and dog fleas, being different in some features of appearance and size. Ordinary people who are not familiar with entomology are unlikely to notice the difference between these related parasites.
However, in general, poor knowledge of the flea biology and their way of life can sometimes have very undesirable consequences for the reason that the cat fleas transmit many diseases dangerous for man. Statistics show that only 1 person out of 10 has a more or less correct knowledge on how these parasites multiply and what are their substantial differences, for example, from head lice.
This kind of insects actively infests not only on cats, but also other animals — dogs, rats, rabbits — and just as easily and freely feeds, under the right circumstances, human blood.
At the same time, other kinds of fleas can be found on cats, for example, a dog, rat, human, rabbit flee. However, for an ordinary owner of this mustached pet, all fleas look the same — the difference between species can be recognized only under a microscope. At least these bloodsuckers differ from other parasitic insects, so there would be no doubt on who’s annoying the cat.
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What does a cat flea look like: a look under the microscope?
Cat fleas look like very small dark colored insects that literally appear in animal hair for a moment and immediately hide again. Cat flea is more noticeable on man because it cannot hide in the hair and prefers to bite hairless body parts-legs, buttocks, back and stomach. Here it resembles a tiny shining insect, which is very difficult to catch — fleas jump perfectly at distances of up to 30 cm.
Cat fleas are very small insects. Their body length, depending on age, ranges from 0.8 to 4 mm, often 2-3 mm. The color is dark brown with shimmer.
Different types of fleas are distinguished from each other by the structure of head and number of setae on the legs.
Take a closer look at cat fleas by taking the insect in hand or putting it under the microscope.
Cat fleas do not have wings, but there are very powerful jumping rear legs, to ensure their ability to jump long distances. Body of insects is sqeezed on the sides and hauled away in height. It’s adaptive mechanism:
- flatbody experiences less air resistance during the jump.
- due to it theflea can quickly and deftly move among the hairs in the fur of the owner
- flatsolid body is harder to crush with mechanical pressure
- the color of the body:all the fleas found on cats, have dark brown or black color which it is difficult to see.
This particular ability of the fleas, to leap, has become a byword. The insect can make a jump 150 times exceeding the length of its body.
Jumping itself is a good sign to identify fleas. If a tiny thing on the animal body simply disappears from the body surface – that is a flea. The human eye is not able to see the jump of the insect: we can only detect the parasite within a radius of 20-30 cm from the last place of its location.
Cat flea has the following differences from other possible parasites:
- smallsize — the usual ticks are several times larger
- Dark colouringand mobility – fleas and lice in cats are found practically next to each other, but lice have a lighter body coloring and are extremely sedentary.
Lifestyle and reproduction of cats fleas
Cat fleas are active ectoparasites of mammals. They live in places at debris, under rocks and tufts of dry grass, nests of wild animals in nature. In the houses or economic constructions cat fleas often settle in animal bedding, under rugs, behind plinths, in corners with accumulation of debris (although many of us believe that fleas live only on the animal). In these secluded places parasites rest and reproduce.
All the domestic cat fleas generally have similar biology. They all are obligate parasites, able to feed only on blood.
Flea reproduction occurs with full transformation: the female lays egg portion, where vermiform, not similar to adult insect larvae, appear in a few days. They feed on decaying organic materials or residues or blood remainder excreted by adult insects.
The domestic cat fleas are constantly present on its body. They leap on animal to suckle, and leave it as they are full. Larvae develop in the animal bedding or simply in heaps of garbage. Larvae cannot be found on cats.
There are many options how fleas appear on cats:
- Randomskid of insects into the house by a man — on clothes or household items.
- Presence ofparasitesin the house. Usually, in this case, the parasites also bite people.
- Attackof parasitesliving in places of recreation or walking of the animal: the cat may simply lie beside a mouse hole, where it gets insects.
- Contamination from streetanimals..
These reasons are enough to understand that no animal, even when it gets good care, is not safe from being infected by parasites.
Fleas as carriers of dangerous cat diseases
Cat fleas are dangerous to humans, but even ordinary bites of cat fleas are very painful and cause skin irritation, itching, rashes, and after scratching — can cause pustular inflammations. However, all of these symptoms in medicine are called pulikoz and are considered to be a parasitic disease.
So, fleas and worms in cats always exist side by side: helminthes eggs are carried on pads over parasitic jumping. And also, the following pathogens move in the body of a tiny parasite from one host to another:
- rickettsial disease
- splenic fever
… and a lot of different diseases, including deadly diseases dangerous for both cats and for the people who keep them. Therefore, the condition of your pet should always be carefully monitored, and parasites should be dealt with at the very first sign.
Signs that the pet has fleas
It’s easy to find out if the cat has fleas. Even with a small number of them on the body of the animal they’ve cause unequivocal symptoms:
- Dermatitison the skin with especially strong This sign develops rarely and after long parasitizing of insects
- rashes onthe skin under the hair looking as red dots
- insectexcrement in the form of tiny black dots in the hair
- itching— cat begins to worry and continuously itches
- anemia at severe lesions
- and finally,fleas themselves, hardly visible but constantly present in the hair.
Usually itching and constant anxiety of animal are more than enough to understand that the cat has flea. But the final conclusion can be given by vet after inspecting the pet.
When the fleas are detected, you must proceed to fight insects.
How to deal with cat fleas?
If a domestic cat gets fleas, first, you must choose the right tool to get rid of insects and debride the skin. Then, animal must be cleaned from parasites from inside.
Today there are many effective means to fight fleas. All of them can be divided into several basic types:
- collars— are most effective for preventing infection of It’s convenient to invest such a collar on a cat that goes out only occasionally and briefly. In this case, the tool will effectively deter parasites. Disadvantage of such collars is that they can cause irritation to the neck of the animal. The most known collars Hartz, Bayer.
Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar, Cat. Price: $45.58
Hartz Ultraguard Plus Flea &Tick Cat Collar. Price: $7.63
- shampoos against fleasis the optimal tool for cats. Have a very mild effect, not toxic, effectively destroying the existing wool Fleas on a pregnant cat almost always are killed with the shampoo. You can buy them at veterinary pharmacy.
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor for Dogs and Cats. Price: $11.19
- sprays against fleas are the most radical and enough toxic They are used when the number of fleas on the animal is very high and it’s necessary to get rid of them quickly and immediately. These means require very strict adherence to the instructions and have many contraindications. For example, it’s not recommended to kill fleas on feeding cats or kittens by any of them.
Vet’s Best – Flea & Tick Home Spray. Price: $9.49
- mechanical methods for removing fleas: flea comb and manually. Very laborious and time consuming But, for example, for the kittens at the age of up to one month this would be the only acceptable way to get rid of parasites.
Safari Flea Comb for Cats, Green. Price: $4.99
Generally if a cat flea appeared for the first time, it can be very challenging to select appropriate tool because you cannot always predict whether it causes allergies or not. It is not desirable to proceed by trial and error and consult a veterinarian.
How to properly deal with cat fleas?
It is important to realize that if a cat gets fleas, getting rid of them won’t be the only thing to do. Combating these parasites implies a whole sequence of actions:
- You need toselect the right tool, focusing primarily on security of a pet.
- The whole apartment should be cleared of insects. Special aerosol insecticides should be appliedin full compliance with the regulations.
- Then you must take prophylactic measures on animal and its dwelling. Use special spray insecticides, wormwood, collars and keep the house clean.
In any case, after finding the cat fleas, you must either change or thoroughly clean the sleeping place of the animal, its toilet and litter. Parasites are likely to breed in these places, and they will become a place of secondary infection if insects will be destroyed on the animal only.