Flea bite hypersensitivity can occur anywhere on the cat’s body but is most often seen along the hind end. In severe cases the cat will need antibiotics to treat infection. Oral or injectable cortisone is also often used to relieve the intense itching reaction so the sores on the skin have a chance to heal.
Cat parents often notice the signs of flea bite hypersensitivity as the cat engages in constant biting and scratching at the affected area of the body. You can also usually feel the scabs and sores when you pet your cat. In many cases hair loss is very noticeable.
Keep in mind that even indoor cats are at risk of flea infestation. If you have a dog who goes outdoors there’s a good chance he will bring fleas back into the home. It’s important to treat all pets in the home. Don’t just treat the dog who goes outdoors because he can still bring fleas inside and they’ll go for the unprotected host (your indoor cat). Fleas can also be brought in by people. Cats who sit near open windows at ground floor level are also at risk of flea infestation.
There are several topical flea control products available from your veterinarian. Don’t buy topical flea control products over-the-counter. Use products that your veterinarian recommends specifically for your cat based on age and health condition. Remember, anything you put on your cat will eventually go in your cat during his normal grooming so the product must be safe. Products vary in how they work so your veterinarian’s advice is needed in order to match the most appropriate product to your cat.
There are oral treatments and topical treatments. Topical products are applied on the back of the neck, just behind the head. This prevents kitty from being able to lick it off. The product will look oily when initially applied to the area but will spread through the hair follicles during the day to cover the entire body.
Topical and oral products typically last about a month. Effective flea control and prevention depend on consistent, ongoing treatment. It’s important to mark your calendar so you’ll know to apply the product on the same day each month or as instructed by the particular product manufacturer.
Never use a flea product labeled for dogs. The product you use must state that it’s safe for use in cats. If you have a kitten, make sure the product clearly states that it’s safe for kittens. Again, seek your veterinarian’s guidance before using any product on your pets.
Flea shampoos only work temporarily but your veterinarian may recommend it if the flea infestation is particularly heavy. It may be recommended to bathe the cat before application of other products. If you’ve never bathed your cat you may prefer to have this done at your veterinarian’s office.
The Indoor Environment
Engage in routine vacuuming in order to get rid of the flea eggs and pupae hidden in the carpet fibers. Vacuum under furniture, remove sofa cushions and vacuum them as well. If you have an indoor cat tree be sure to vacuum the perches regularly. Flea eggs can be anywhere. Remove the vacuum bag each time, enclose it in a plastic bag, tightly seal it and then toss it in the outdoor trash. Don’t just leave the bag in the vacuum cleaner because the eggs will hatch and it’ll be flea city in your home. Don’t toss a flea collar in the bag because of the risk of fume toxicity. Simply get rid of the bag.
Wash all pet bedding. If your pets sleep in bed with you then remove all bedding, including the comforter and wash that as well. If you have a comforter that must be dry-cleaned, then take it outdoors, shake it out thoroughly and then vacuum it.