No doubt, cats are probably one of the cleanest creatures on earth. If you’ve ever watched your cat groom, then you know it can do this for what seems like hours on end. Most cats spend 10% of their waking hours grooming their fur. Although you may think that all of this grooming will help your cat steer clear of one of the peskiest parasites on the planet — the flea — it will not.
Believe it or not, cats seem to be more prone than dogs to fleas, it’s just that the cat’s meticulous grooming habits make fleas much harder to spot. Indoor cats are not much safer than outdoor cats in this respect because fleas can enter your home on unsuspecting visitors or their pets.
If you’re wondering how you know if your cat has fleas then read on — here are nine signs that your cat may be hosting unwanted guests in your home.
1. Your cat begins to groom excessively
One of the first signs that your cat has fleas is a change in grooming habits. You may notice that grooming becomes more like an extreme sport than a relaxing pastime for your cat. Your cat, a master when it comes to self-care, is no match for a team of fleas. Excessive grooming, along with licking, chewing, scratching or biting, often leads to an increase in hair loss and sometimes bald spots on the back of your cat’s legs, neck or tail base. So if you detect even the slightest change in your cat’s meticulous behaviour, take a closer look at it’s skin to see if you can discover evidence of any fleas.
2. Your cat develops red skin lesions or scab-like bumps
When a flea bites your cat, the flea’s mouth parts pierce it’s skin like a needle to feed. The saliva the flea injects into your cat may cause an allergic reaction. In some cats the response is subtle, but in others it is severe, and the skin becomes red and inflamed. If you notice red skin lesions or scab-like bumps it is essential to seek help from a veterinarian to reduce inflammation and prevent infection.
3. Your cat becomes weak, or it’s gums become pale
In extreme cases, a cat can lose so much blood from a heavy flea infestation that anaemia develops. This is more commonly a problem in young kittens but if the infestation is intense any age of cat can be affected. If your cat seems to be off colour make sure they receive essential veterinary care.
4. Your cat has tapeworms
One of the many dangers associated with fleas is that they carry the developing stage of a common tapeworm. If your cat eats a tapeworm-infected flea while grooming, the tapeworm develops, and attaches to your cat’s intestinal wall to feed and grow. Tapeworms do not commonly cause signs of illness in cats but are unsightly and can be transmitted to people, especially young children. Your veterinary team can help you control the fleas that are spreading the tapeworm and treat the tapeworm to keep you, your cat and the rest of your family healthy.