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Your cat may become infested with fleas if they come into close contact with another flea infested animal, or they could pick up a ‘hitchhiker’ fleas while outside. As with many problems, the quicker you identify a flea problem, the quicker you can get to work on eradicating them.
To help you identify whether your cat may have fleas, here are some signs to look out for:
All cats will scratch, bite or lick themselves as part of the grooming process, but if your cat appears to be excessively scratching, biting or licking themselves, it could be due to a flea problem and should be investigated.
Hair loss can result from the excessive scratching and biting, but it can also be due to Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). This is a condition both pets and people can suffer from. During a flea’s blood meal there is a transfer of saliva, if you or your pet are sensitive to flea saliva the body will react by producing an allergic response, which is seen as a rash or hair loss.
Fleas can cause a great deal of discomfort and irritation for your cat, so you may notice they are more irritable than usual, behaving differently, or seeming to react when there is nothing there.
These black specs are likely to be flea dirt, which is flea faeces containing undigested blood from your pet. Flea dirt indicates that your pet definitely has a flea problem, and you should take action immediately.
More likely to be seen in kittens but a cat infested with fleas may have pale gums, which can be a sign of anaemia. This occurs when the amount of red blood cells being lost is greater than the amount of new red blood cells being produced in the body. Fleas can drink up to 15 times their own weight in blood per day, hence why this usually affects kittens more than adult cats.
If your cat shows any of these signs, you should check them for fleas immediately and treat if necessary.
If you have more than one pet it is important to check and treat both animals for fleas. Even if one of your pet’s stays indoors all the time, they could still become infested by fleas picked up by your other pet. The most common flea found in the UK, the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) can affect both cats and dogs.
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