External parasites live on a cats skin. They not only cause irritation, but sometimes carry other diseases. As you groom your cat, examine its coat for any evidence of parasites. Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of animals and create mild to severe discomfort.
They cause chronic scratching and, if swallowed by a cat, can also transmit tapeworms. Flea bite allergy is the most common allergy affecting cats. It occurs when a cat is exposed to flea saliva as the flea bites. The saliva acts as an allergen and can cause intense itching. Hair loss and skin infections are other signs of flea allergy.
Controlling fleas is essential in managing this type of allergy. Fleas can hatch in a cats bedding, carpets, furniture and outdoor areas. To control fleas, a cats environment as well as the cat must be treated. Keeping the environment flea-free involves dealing with all stages of the flea life cycle. Fleas live on host animals and move readily from cat to cat, man to man, or from man to cat or other animals.
Eggs are laid loose in the cat's coat and generally fall off soon afterwards and are usually hatched in four to seven days. Animals passing through an infested area pick up these newly hatched and developing fleas. Special attention should be paid to a cats sleeping area. It should be kept clean and the bedding should be washed frequently.
In the house, thoroughly vacuum all carpets and crevices, under cushions, rugs and in the corners of upholstered furniture. Discard the vacuum bag because it may harbor fleas. Some flea control in the yard is possible through spraying.
Thorough cleaning and vacuuming help, but a professional exterminator may be needed to control heavy infestations. Multiple treatments may be needed to remove fleas from the household environment. Fleas are diagnosed by finding either the parasites themselves or black specks called flea dirt (flea excrement) on a cat's coat. Many preparations are available to aid in flea control. A once-a-month tablet for flea control is available through veterinarians. This tablet kills the flea eggs deposited on a cat.
Adult fleas can still bite the cat and deposit eggs. Cats can get an allergic reaction from the flea bites as well as tapeworms. The once-a-month tablet is a preventative. Products to control fleas in the house and yard are also needed in a complete flea control program, especially in the case of moderate to severe infestations. Be certain the label on any product you use states the product is safe for cats and follow label directions. Your veterinarian can also provide advice about products that will be effective in your particular situation.
Tristan Andrews writes useful articles about cats and kittens. Discover and explore the feline world. Find out how to better care for, train and live with your cat at the cat forums at http://www.i-love-cats.com