Fleas and Your Cat: What You Need to Know

Fleas are tiny, fast-moving parasites that feed on the blood of mammals and birds. Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are a common species. They’re challenging to spot in a cat’s dense fur and can cause discomfort and health issues if not addressed.

Symptoms of Fleas in Cats:

  • Itching and scratching
  • Red bites or scabs
  • Hair loss
  • Presence of flea excrement (“flea dirt”)

Even if you don’t see fleas or their excrement, your cat may still be affected, as fleas can be present in small numbers. Severe flea infestations can lead to anemia and transmission of diseases.

Causes of Fleas:

  • Outdoor cats can pick up fleas from natural environments.
  • Indoor cats can get fleas from dogs that go outdoors.
  • Factors like moist, wooded areas, long grass, indoor infestations, and neighboring flea issues can increase the likelihood of infestation.

Diagnosing Fleas: Fleas are usually visible to the naked eye. Even if the infestation is low, you may find traces of their presence, like flea excrement. Check areas like the base of the tail.


  • Combing and Bathing: Gently comb your cat to remove fleas. Bathing is optional, and don’t force it if your cat resists.
  • Consult Your Veterinarian: Discuss the best flea control product for your cat. Never use dog flea products on cats.

Home Treatment:

  • Wash all bedding thoroughly and vacuum the mattress.
  • Vacuum carpeting daily, disposing of used bags.
  • Consider steam-cleaning carpeting to eliminate remaining eggs.

Prognosis: With proper treatment, cats generally recover well as itchiness subsides, wounds heal, and hair regrows. Severe cases may require additional treatment for anemia or flea-borne diseases.


  • Use monthly flea preventatives, and consider year-round prevention.
  • All pets in a household should be protected to effectively address the issue.

Are Fleas Contagious? Yes, fleas can jump from one warm-blooded creature to another, infesting all pets in a household. While they don’t reside on humans as easily, they can bite and cause itching. Flea-borne diseases can be transmitted between pets and even to humans.

Remember, consistent and thorough treatment is key to managing and preventing flea infestations. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian for guidance on the best approach for your specific situation.

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