fleas

Cat Flea Control: Protect Your Home

Appearance

What Do Cat Fleas Look Like?
Size: Adult cat fleas typically measure around 1/8 inches in length.

Color: The cat flea ranges in color from dark brown to black and turns reddish-black when engorged with blood.

Characteristics: A sloping forehead and the presence of combs or ctenidia on the body help distinguish the cat flea from other flea species. The parasitic insects lack wings and typically leap onto host animals. Cat flea larvae look like maggots with short bristles of hair along the body.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857

Facts

  • Cat fleas are the most common flea species found in the Mid-Atlantic region and the rest of the United States.
  • Contrary to their name, the insects affect not just cats, but also dogs and a plethora of wildlife.
  • The pests are blood feeders and carry a multitude of diseases that can negatively impact humans and domesticated animals alike.
  • Small and difficult to see, the cat flea reproduces rapidly, easily infests homes or businesses and proves difficult to eradicate without professional assistance.

Food

What Do Cat Fleas Eat?
Adult cat fleas feed on the blood of host animals, which includes:

  • Felines
  • Canines
  • Rabbits
  • Horses
  • Foxes
  • Skunks
  • Poultry

Larvae feed on the excrement of the adults and other debris found in the immediate environment.

Biology

Female cat fleas can lay one egg per hour after feeding on the blood of a host animal. Pearly white and difficult to see with the naked eye, the oval-shaped eggs hatch in one to six days.

The emerging larvae look similar to maggots and pupate within five to eleven days in cocoons made of sticky silk.

Developing cat fleas finish pupating after about five days and require some sort of stimulus, such as a change in the oxygen or carbon dioxide levels or added heat from the presence of a host animal in order to fully emerge as adults.

Detection

  • Black specks of fecal matter called flea dirt may appear when combing an infested pet.
  • Pets may have missing fur or irritated skin from excessively scratching and licking affected areas.
  • Adult fleas may be visible to the naked eye during grooming.
  • Often found around the fecal matter of other animals or in small cracks in the walls and floors.

Problems Caused by Cat Fleas

  • Cat fleas are known carriers of various disease-causing viruses with the potential to create serious health issues for domesticated animals and humans alike.
  • Fleas and flea excrement can induce allergic reactions in both humans and pets with itchy areas of redness being the most common symptom.
  • The cat flea is a known vector of murine typhus and flea-borne spotted fever, both of which require immediate medical attention.
  • The insects also serve as the intermediate host to the most common species of tapeworms that affect both humans and pets.
  • If swallowed, the tapeworm escapes the flea and latches on to the digestive tract of the new host causing multiple internal issues.

Signs of Infestation

  • Perhaps the most common signs of a cat flea infestation are the behavioral changes such as increased scratching, grooming, and biting at areas of the skin or fur, that affected pets exhibit.
  • When combing domesticated animals, the appearance of flea dirt may also signal an active infestation of cat fleas.
  • Though small in size, fleas remain quite visible when pulling back the fur of cats and dogs and may also be seen jumping onto the host animal.

Prevention Tips

  • Careful and continual sanitation typically leads to better flea control.
  • Regularly vacuuming carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture and crevices around baseboards and cabinets will assist in the removal of flea eggs, larvae and adults.
  • Wash both pet and human bedding with regularity in order to prevent the parasites from infesting and becoming settled.
  • As wild animals typically bring fleas into urban areas, keep all trash receptacles sealed, remove potential wildlife nesting sites from the property and keep vegetated areas clear to avoid attracting feral, flea-infested hosts.
  • Pets should also be on a vet-recommended flea prevention program. Contact a veterinarian for more information about preventative products.

Tips for Removal from Home

Once a flea infestation breaks out, completely eliminating the pests from the home is a difficult task.

The continual treatment of areas around the home typically proves necessary, as fleas may continue to breed and find new hosts.

For extreme infestations, chemical treatments may be required to completely eradicate the pests. When cat flea infestations become severe enough to warrant chemical control, contacting a trained pest control specialist often proves advantageous. Call Western for a free inspection.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857