“My cat is indoor-only so it isn’t possible for her to have fleas.” This is something we hear all the time from our new customers in response to our policy that all of our kitty patrons must pass a flea check upon arrival and actively be on a flea prevention medication.
Two years ago we blogged about the myth that indoor cats don’t get fleas. We’re revisiting this important topic because it continues to be a huge misconception among cat parents of indoor cats.
If you’ve never experienced fleas on your indoor cat, you may be wondering what the big deal is.
First, fleas breed extremely rapidly. Second, it takes a lot of time, patience and energy to get rid of them. Third, and most important, your cat can become sick.
How do fleas even get inside my house?
Fleas typically make their way into our homes by hitching rides on us via our clothing, our backpacks, and our pets. Once in your home, they will seek out cozy places to hide such as bedding, carpets, baseboards, and cracks in flooring. Where they can live for up to a year! Until they find your indoor cat.
Where do fleas congregate?
Some of the common places we can inadvertently carry these pesky invaders into our homes may surprise you.
Home gardens, grass & foliage
Fleas love to burrow into tall grass and weeds due to the moisture and shade. Dead leaves and twigs are common places fleas hide and lay eggs. After you mow your lawn or dig in the garden, you can easily bring fleas into your house. And it’s only a short amount of time before they’ve found your indoor-only cat as their new blood source.
Pet clinics & groomers
You wouldn’t think the veterinary clinic or a groomer would be a source of fleas. But consider about how many pets come in and out of these places each day. According to articles in VetPrep and Talkatoo, the average number of pets seen per day is 20 – 40 depending on the facility. That’s a lot of opportunity for your pet to be exposed to these unwelcome trespassers.
Hiking trails & neighborhood walks
When you walk your dog through the neighborhood or take him hiking with you, fleas are looming. Just like with your garden, simply walking under a tree or by a bush can invite them onto you, your pooch, your clothing or backpack.
If you volunteer at a shelter or foster kittens in your home, consider most of these rescues from the street have fleas. Make sure you take your clothes off and wash them immediately after volunteering at a shelter. And if you foster, here’s a video on how to check your kittens for fleas.
Can my indoor cat get sick from fleas?
Yes. Fleas can do a lot more damage than simply biting your kitty. According to global animal health pharmaceutical company Elanco, there are four diseases that fleas carry which can get cats sick.
Bartonellosis – Cat Scratch Disease
If kitty ingests flea droppings they can contract this bacterial infection. They can potentially pass this bacteria onto other cats – and even humans. Just ask Ted Nugent.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Some cats are hypersensitive to flea saliva causing a condition called flea allergy dermatitis. This also results in kitty itching a lot. If you see hair loss in certain areas or skin irritation that looks like small scabs on your cat’s skin, contact your vet.
A serious medical condition, anemia can develop in your cat if many fleas feast at once. Don’t mess around if you notice weakness, lethargy, and rapid breathing. Immediately take your kitty to the hospital if you notice these symptoms.
If your kitty swallows a flea infected with tapeworm, they can become infected. Tapeworms cling to their intestines and look like white grains of rice. Disgusting? Yes. Fatal? Probably not. Fortunately, they generally do not cause serious health issues.
How can I help prevent my indoor cat from getting fleas?
Give your kitty a monthly flea treatment! Talk to your veterinarian about their recommendations. Flea formulas have become weaker over the years and some veterinarians recommend certain brands over others.
Check your indoor cats regularly for fleas. A flea comb is an inexpensive yet highly useful tool in identifying fleas. While you’re cuddling kitty, take the flea comb out and run it through his fur. Don’t forget to check for flea dirt! Here’s an informative video on how to give a through check to your adult cat.
For more inforation on Club Cat’s flea-free policy, click here.