About flea treatments for cats
Why are flea treatments for cats important?
To understand why flea treatment for kittens and cats is important, you need to understand the effect of flea infestation on a cat. First, a female flea can eat about 15 times its body weight daily and that’s your pet’s blood we are talking about. Multiply this by any number of females you like and you get a troubling result.
Let’s not even talk about the serious discomfort your pet can suffer from the many bites which leave your cat acting irritably, biting and scratching herself and more. Let’s focus on the more serious side effects of flea infestation.
A serious flea infestation can lead to a number of health conditions not only for your cat but also for you, the pet owner. Flea infestations can lead to feline infectious anemia and flea allergy dermatitis. Feline infectious anemia is a bacterial infection that can be fatal. It targets the red blood cells, gradually decimating them leaving the host weak and lethargic among other things. Flea allergy dermatitis, on the other hand, is an allergic reaction to flea bites that can result in a loss of fur, open sores or hot spots.
An infected cat can also infect its owner with cat scratch fever. This can be transmitted from cat to cat by fleas and from cat to humans via a cat scratch or bite.
Types of flea treatments for cats and how they work?
There are different types of flea treatments for cats. You can have them as drops, collars, tablets, shampoos, etc. These all fall under any of two categories – topical or oral treatments.
Oral Treatments: Oral treatments have to be ingested by the cat to work. If you choose to use oral treatments like flea drops for cats, understand that the only way the fleas will be killed is when they bite your pet and take in the blood that now contains the treatment. If you were to put yourself in the shoes of your pet, you may not like this very much. Examples of these include oral drops and tablets.
Topical Treatments: These refer to treatments that are applied externally. Many of these kill the pests on contact and do not require that the fleas first bite their host. This is usually a preferred option for many pet owners. It also has the advantage of you not having to force a drop or tablet into your cat’s mouth. Examples of these include flea collars and shampoos.
Aside from the two groups listed above, there are also powders and sprays which are important for treating the environment. Fleas can live comfortably in different locations in your house. From these locations, they can easily re-infect your pets at will.
To fully eradicate a flea infestation, you need to kill fleas anywhere they may be whether it’s on your pets, in your house or out in the backyard.
How to apply flea treatment to a cat
Before using any new flea treatment on your cat, make sure to carefully read the instructions, ingredients and warnings on the product label. It is very important to use the correct medication and dosing for your cat, and never give your cats a product that has been designed for use on dogs. Cats are highly sensitive to certain dog-safe ingredients and exposing your kitty to these can have disastrous consequences. It is also important to ensure that the product you have chosen is suitable for the age and health status of your feline.
Once you’re satisfied that you’re using the right product for your cat, you can get on with the application! Unfortunately, most cats hate this part. To properly and safely apply flea treatment to your moggy while keeping stress to a minimum (for both of you), use the following tips.
Apply the product to the back of your cat’s neck. Sometimes, flea treatments can be applied to your cat’s back. However, flexible kitties will be able to lick this off, so the back of the neck is often preferred.
- Apply the product to the skin. You can do this either by parting the fur at the back of the neck or by sliding the applicator under the fur until it rests against the skin.
- Leave your cat to dry. Let your cat’s fur dry thoroughly after applying flea treatment before you touch them again. Depending on the product, this may take up to a few hours.
- Hold your cat still. Cats must stay still while having a flea treatment applied, but this is often much more easily said than done. If you have a wriggly kitty, try (gently but snugly) wrapping them up, burrito-style, in a towel while you apply the treatment to avoid catching a swipe from those claws.
Where should you apply flea treatment on your cat?
Once you’ve applied flea treatment to your cat’s fur, their very first instinct will be to try and lick it off. Therefore, it’s important to apply the product in an area where their tongue can’t reach. For some cats, the back will do, but this is no good for more flexible kitties. This means that the best place to apply flea treatment to your cat is often on the back of the neck.
Flea treatment buying guide
Ease of application
We mentioned earlier that flea treatment can come in different forms. There are oral and topical treatments. All cats are not the same. You need to know what type of application method will be easiest for your cat. Some manufacturers have designed applicators that make it easier for treatment to be applied to the pets with minimal discomfort. This is something worth considering.
Every second your dear cat stays uncomfortable as a result of these bites is also the time you spend in despair. Some treatments begin to act in as little as 3 hours while some take longer. This is usually also affected by the mode of application. Oral methods may require more time as the medication will first have to be ingested and absorbed into your cat’s bloodstream for it to take effect when the fleas take a bite. However, topical treatments will usually work faster as they do not need to be absorbed into your cat’s bloodstream. Always check for this and be sure you are okay with the acting time.
How long treatment lasts
Fleas are very difficult to get rid of once they have settled in. There are many reasons for this which include the number of eggs one female can lay in a day (up to 50), and the different life stages a flea goes through before maturity. In a flea infestation, the adult flea accounts for just about 5% of the population. The remaining 95% consists of eggs, larvae, and pupae.
If you apply a treatment that kills all the adults today, you are likely to have new adults emerging from the pupae stage by tomorrow. This is why the length of time the treatment remains active is very important.
A lot of treatments, especially topical ones, stay active for up to 30 days. Within this time, every emerging adult flea is killed. At the end of the 30 days, you re-apply the treatment and the killing continues. If it is effective for just a few days then you may find yourself having to apply a new treatment every few days which will be very stressful for both you and your pet.
Read the instructions on the product label to find out how often to reapply flea treatment on your cat. This is important, as applying treatment too often can be unhealthy for your kitty, while using it too infrequently will reduce its effectiveness. Many products are safe to reapply after a week or two.
Effectiveness against fleas’ different life stages
Like we noted earlier, fleas go through a few stages before maturity. Some treatments can only kill the adult fleas while some others can kill the adult and also attack the eggs and larvae. It is clearly a plus to have a treatment that can deal with fleas at every stage of their life development.
Safety tips and aftercare
If you’ve chosen a product that’s appropriate for your cat, the risks of them having an adverse reaction are negligible. However, it is advisable to monitor your cat after treatment, especially if you are using a new product on them. Signs of an allergic reaction include:
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
If your cat experiences any of the above symptoms, consult a vet immediately for advice.
Suitability for your cat
Be sure what you are getting the right flea medication for your cat. You should not get flea medicine for kittens for a 10-pound cat. Or treatment that’s meant for kittens and use it on a grown cat. Always check to be sure the treatment you are choosing is right for your cat’s age and weight.
While you may not know if any particular product will elicit some side effects prior to purchasing it, you should, of necessity, discontinue any that results in serious side effects. You should always watch your cats closely after applying any treatment.
If you have little children then you should always opt for products that are child safe. You do not want to harm your child while treating your pet. Some pet owners try to avoid both the side effects and child safety issues by going strictly for natural flea remedies for cats as these are usually less harmful.
Having gone through the information contained here, you should be better equipped to choose the best flea treatment for cats from the list of top treatments we have provided below. Look through them and decide on one that offers exactly what you want for your cat.