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Cat tales: Creepy crawlies

April 19, 2014

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HAVE you noticed recently that your cat has been scratching himself a whole lot more as the weather has become warmer? If sometimes he even turns his head around to bite himself, he may have fleas.

Flea check

YOU may not be able to see fleas because of the thickness or colour of the cat’s fur, but if you gently brush aside the fur, you may see little specks of dirt. Take some dirt to the bathroom sink add a few drops of water. If the dirt turns red, it’s dried blood. Result: The cat has fleas!

What is a flea?

A FLEA is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialised mouthparts to pierce the skin and draw off blood.

When a flea bites your cat, it injects a small amount of saliva which thickens the blood to stop it from bleeding. Fleas suck off blood from your cat whenever they feel like it. Your cat is a fridge full of food for them or, in other words, they live off your cat.

At the site of a fleabite, the cat may scratch and bite himself until the area is furless, and raw. A bacterial infection forms here and causes more fur to fall. If one cat in the household has fleas, all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, baby fleas and eggs in your house. Fleas thrive in a hot and humid environment.

When your cat licks itself while grooming, it can accidentally ingest flea eggs. These will hatch inside the cat’s small intestine and produce tapeworm. Now there will be a fresh lot of health issues ahead for your cat. Not only do fleas draw blood from your kitty, the tapeworm eats all the delicious tuna that you have been feeding your cat. So your cat becomes weak, anaemic and hungrier than ever.

Fighting the flea

IT’S way easier to prevent fleas than to battle them. If you follow a monthly anti-flea spray routine at your vet’s, or following the vet’s advice, you spray your cat at home, you could prevent a whole lot of trouble for your cat and yourself.

There are flea collars, shampoos and powders and sprays available. Ask you vet to advice you on what you should do according to your cat’s condition, fur, and its lifestyle. Treating pets and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infect your cat. You may even need to throw out his soft toys or his favourite rug.

Flea control is time consuming, expensive and difficult. The good news is that currently, with the newer flea products on the market, flea control is much safer, more effective and environmentally friendly.