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How to Do Flea Control for Pet Cat With Utmost Safety

There are only two ways to counter flea infestation: You must rid your cat of the insects, and you must also get them out of the environment where your cat spends time - your home and outdoor property if your cat or his animal roommate is allowed to wander outside. The best way to prevent fleas naturally is to keep your cat indoors. Using modern treatments it is now possible to control feline or cat fleas effectively.

Flea infestation can pose a special danger to kittens, says William Miller Jr., VMD, a professor of dermatology at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Fleas are the most common of all external feline parasites, and the consequences of infestation will be terribly uncomfortable for most cats and can be the source of deadly disease for some. Flea bites cause horrible itching, and a hypersensitive cat's incessant scratching may open wounds in the skin that are vulnerable to serious infection. Indeed, these tiny, wingless creatures often carry infectious agents themselves - such as dog and cat tapeworm and the bacteria that causes cat-scratch disease in people.

Does my cat have fleas?
When grooming, cats may eat fleas that they discover, making it difficult to find adult fleas in the coat. An itchy cat, or insect bites on human ankles, may be the only sign of infestation. The best way to demonstrate the presence of fleas is to comb the cat meticulously with a fine-toothed flea comb over a clean white surface such as a piece of paper. Fleas and 'flea dirt' (flea excrement consisting of undigested cat blood) will be deposited onto the surface. If placed on damp cotton wool, flea dirt will slowly dissolve leaving blood.

All cats are subject to flea infestation and its consequences. There are no predilections in terms of age, breed, or gender. Many cats are able to harbor thousands of fleas without showing significant signs (except for persistent scratching). Others, though, may be profoundly affected.

According to Dr. Miller, cats tend to be bitten mostly on the back of the neck and the top of the tail head. "Cats are grooming animals," he points out, "and the fleas quickly figure out that a cat can't get at those areas. So the cat starts scratching, and because cats have very sharp claws, they can get very severe skin lesions very quickly."

Meanwhile, cats with flea allergy dermatitis are apt to show distressful signs - reddish, crusty bumps, for example - even in areas that have not been savagely scratched as well as those that are obviously itching. The lower back, thighs, abdomen, head and neck are among the areas most commonly affected.

Suspected infestation can be readily confirmed by means of veterinary diagnosis involving the animal's medical history, a physical examination, and possible skin testing.

Treatment Required

There is a vast and confusing array of flea treatments available from veterinary surgeries, pet shops and supermarkets for use in and on cats. What may not be apparent is that these products vary markedly in their compositions, mode of action, effectiveness and safety.  

Older preparations contain organophosphate, carbamate, pyrethroid or pyrethrum insecticides that kill fleas rapidly. They can be used safely provided instructions are followed very carefully. Pet owners must follow the detailed product instructions (see also box 2 - Beware! Cats are not small dogs), as cats are potentially at risk of toxic effects from these older insecticides. It may be necessary to use a variety of flea control products, and these should be chosen carefully to avoid overdosing the cat.

Some of the newer products available are considered safer, more effective and durable. Always check if a product is safe to use on kittens, pregnant or suckling cats if treating such animals.

Using flea treatments responsibly
NEVER use a flea treatment product on a cat that has been formulated for use in dogs.  Some dog flea treatment products containing permethrin (see box 3, Advice from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate) can cause deaths in cats. Care should be taken to ensure that cats don't have contact with these products (eg, with a dog that has just been treated).

Some household pesticides such as wood treatments, ant and other insect killers may contain similar active ingredients to those used in flea treatments.  To prevent additive effects care must be taken to limit exposure to these.

Beware! Cats are not small dogs!

It is tempting to think that whatever works for dogs will work just as well for cats.

This is simply not the case.

These animals have very different physiology and metabolic pathways.

For example, the insecticide permethrin can be safely used as a flea treatment for dogs, but is highly toxic to cats, even at dosages appropriate for puppies.

For more useful hint, check out our main page here:

Auckland flea control

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Published by Graeme Stephens owner of Pest Control Auckland and has proudly been providing the following professional services since 1987: pest control, fly control, flea control, insect, cockroach, wasp, bee, flies, fleas, bed bug control, ant control

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