Fleas are a class of wingless parasites that live exclusively on the blood from a host organism. There are more than 2,000 species of fleas and, unlike other parasitic insects that have the help of wings to aid in their search for a bloody meal, fleas jump.
Fleas, which average about 4mm in length, are capable of a vertical leap of around 18cm, and a distance of more 30cm. For a six-foot human, this would be the equivalent of a jump 48m high and 90m long.
All of this makes for interesting trivia, but fleas are a fact of life for pet owners and are a significant cause of illness in our pets. Fleas are much, much more than just a nuisance.
Flea Bite Dermatitis:
Preventing fleas is much better than treating for fleas
The amount of time you must devote to fighting fleas has much to do with the climate. During the warm humid weather we get in spring, summer and autumn in Auckland, fleas breed fast. We had a relatively warm winter followed by a wet spring and a wet, humid summer and that means conditions are just right for flea infestations.
If you’ve ever tried to rid a house of fleas, you’ll understand the importance of preventing them from moving in. Once in there, a female flea can produce 40–50 eggs per day. Putting it another way, ten adults can grow to a population of 250,000 fleas in just 30 days.
There are two main ways to avoid an infestation: treating pets with the correct flea treatments and regular, thorough cleaning.
Use a vet-approved flea product
How can you keep your cat flea-free? If you have a flea problem don’t rush out and buy your pet a flea collar. This will just repel the fleas and make you, the human, the preferred host. This same will happen if you use flea shampoo or ineffective flea products. Even though spot-on medications seem like they would only work on the spot where they are applied, they are actually very effective; they are spread over the body by the oil glands and through the cat cleaning itself. Spot-on medications are not affected by bathing, swimming, or rain, and will kill and repel fleas for several weeks before reapplication.
Most owners tend to stop flea treatment too early. We recommend year-round protection, or at least through two frosts, if you get them where you live.
Getting rid of fleas
For any level of flea infestation, light or severe, you’re in for plenty of vacuuming, flea bombing and hot-water sheet washing until the situation is under control. Like butterflies and caterpillars, their larvae form pupa before they become the biting insects we know so well. The pupa are tiny and extremely resistant to insecticides. They hatch when exposed to warmth and vibrations from movement.
Vacuum in every corner and along the baseboards and throw out the vacuum bag when you are finished. Wash all your cat’s bedding and toys with warm soapy water. Removing the majority of flea eggs and larvae present will help reduce the population of adults hatching in your home.
And kicking out the cat isn’t going to help. You will already have eggs and larvae in the carpet, so if Fluffy isn’t around they’ll just look for a new host: humans. The best thing to do is treat your cat properly and let them go everywhere in the house, and they will become the flea exterminator, killing the adult fleas.
Flea Free Cattery
For the sake of all the other feline guests and the humans who look after them, we work really hard to keep our cattery as flea free as possible. Please make sure your cat has been treated against fleas with a veterinary prescribed flea treatment a few days prior to boarding with us. All cats coming in are monitored for signs of fleas in the first 24 hours and can be treated by our staff if we deem it necessary. Want to know more? Give us a call on 09 299 7415 or email us with your pet health questions.
Not sure which flea treatment to use? Consult your veterinarian. Your local vet is your best source of information about flea control for your cat or your dog.