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Does Your Cat Have A Flea Problem
This page looks at how to find out if your cat has fleas in the first place. In future articles, I will cover the different options for cat flea treatments, as not all choices are good ones. Many flea treatments are very toxic, and can cause long-term health problems. Remember that most flea treatments are pesticides – they kill things!
However there are safe and natural options to get rid of fleas on cats – you just need to know how to use them for the best effect.
How Do I Know If My Cat Has Fleas?
Signs A Cat Has Fleas
Below are some very clear photos that will show you exactly what to look for to find out how to tell if your cat has fleas or not.
Usually you will notice that your cat seems to be scratching more than normal – because the little suckers are biting, and the bites are itchy. Fleas tickle the cat’s skin as they are crawling around at the base of the hair, too.
Some cats will have an allergic reaction to flea bites, which can show up as red spots, raised bumps and rashes. Sometimes the reaction will be so bad that the cat will pull out her fur in the surrounding area, which will result in nasty and unsightly bald, scabby areas.
All in all, having fleas just makes your cat miserable. They are itchy and sore, and just cannot relax as there is always ticklish and biting activity going on over their skin.
So, the first sign to alert you to fleas is scratching, which should prompt you to have a closer, in-depth inspection.
How Do You Look For Fleas?
You may be able to see some fleas straight away by parting your cats fur in various places over her body. Fleas can be very hard to spot on your pets, especially if there is only a few.
So, if you can’t see any, then part the hair on your cats back close to the tail and look for some little black dots. These little black dots are the flea feces – which are commonly referred to as “flea dirt”. They are easily seen on a light colored cat.
However if your cat only has one or two fleas they may be living on a different part of the cat, or they just may not be that easy to spot (some are very good a hiding!).
On the back towards the tail is the most common area to find fleas, and they also like to live around the cat’s neck.
Pictured below is a photo of what flea dirt looks like on a cat with pale fur. This is a very light infestation, most likely from only one or two fleas. If your cat has a lot of fleas, of course you will be able to see a lot more flea poop.
What If I Can’t See Any Fleas?
If you cannot see any flea dirt easily and are still not sure, then you can use a specially designed comb for fleas (see picture). These combs have very closely spaced teeth, and you run them through the cat’s fur with the business end of the comb lay as flat as possible to the skin.
Be gentle – especially if your cat has long or thick hair as you do not want to upset or hurt kitty. Sometimes a flea comb may not work well on cats with especially long or thick hair, as the teeth are so close together it is hard to full through the fur.
The best areas to use the flea comb – where you are most likely to find some fleas feces is again – around the neck and on the back, close to the tail. As a plus here, most cats will really enjoy the feeling of the gentle scratching on their skin – most especially if they do have fleas and are itchy!
Once you have run the comb through kitty’s fur a few times, tap it onto a white surface such as a paper towel or a plate. Pull the fur out of the comb as well. Do this in a sink or over a bucket so any fleas you have extracted will not be able to hop away.
Now you should have a little cat hair and some black spots on your white surface and you need to dampen this. Flick a little soapy water (warm water works faster) onto your results, and if it IS flea dirt – then it will turn a reddish color. The red is blood from your cat that the flea has eaten that dissolves in the soapy water.
What Do Flea Droppings Look Like?
How to spot fleas on your cat? This photo shows the black specks found in a cat flea comb after running it through a cat’s hair.
The fleas (not all of them will be gotten by using a flea comb) and droppings – which are referred to as “flea dirt” and look like little black dots, are dragged out of the fur by the very fine teeth of the flea comb.
The black specks were put onto a white surface – for easy viewing. Then some soapy water was flicked onto it.
You can see how the black spots have now turned a reddish brown, as the water dissolves them. The color is reddish because this is flea dirt – their feces that is mostly made up of the blood they are drinking out of the cat.
Make Sure The Fleas Are Dead!
NOTE: When using a flea comb on your cat – keep a dish of soapy water right next to you, so you can drop any fleas you find into it immediately. The sudsy water will drown the fleas – but not in only a few minutes. Make sure to leave them in there long enough! I have seen fleas come back to life after being in soapy water (or on a soapy cat) for ten minutes or more.
Initially, they get stunned and will look dead, but they may not be. The safest thing is to actually pop them using either the backs of your fingernails or two hard surfaces. You will hear them pop.
Here is a couple of photos to show you exactly what I mean. You can see the flea poop has dissolved and turned red. And you can also see some fleas that got caught in the flea comb teeth. They have drowned in the soapy water.
Does Your Cat Have Fleas?
Well, if you see something like what is in these photos – then Yes, your cat definitely does have fleas. There is nothing else that will turn red quickly like flea dirt does.
Now, if you have found that your cat has fleas, then you might like to move on to this article to learn how to deal with them safely: Flea Treatment Cats
The video below shows you exactly how to find out if your cat is a host for fleas.