When you think about fleas, you probably don't think of a major health threat to your cat, but rather how annoying and gross fleas are to everyone in the household, including your beloved feline. In some cases, though, fleas can cause anemia or severe allergic reactions, making them a big concern for anyone who encounters them.
How Do You Know Your Cat Has Fleas?
Sometimes it's easy to tell your cat has fleas, due to the minor itching and actually seeing the little buggers crawling around. Otherwise, you may notice more self-grooming going on than usual, resulting in loss of fur and/or areas of red and tender skin. Flea dirt, which looks like flakes of black pepper, may also be visible when you run your hand over your cat's coat. Check in the litter box, too, for signs of parasitic infections (worms) that can be spread by fleas.
What Does An Allergic Reaction Look Like?
You will see your feline scratching with much more fervor if there's an allergic reaction going on. You'll also spot scabs and other sores, as well as bald patches on the legs, neck and base of the tail, among other possible locations. Your poor pet will be obsessed with the tiny invaders, even darting and running around the house in an attempt to evade them. Flea bites can become infected, meaning you'll be looking at wet, oozy and inflamed areas where they've dug their tiny, blood-sucking proboscises into the cat's skin.
When Is Anemia A Consequence Of Having Fleas?
Most often, it's small kittens who develop anemia from flea bites, due to the loss of blood associated with an infestation; however, it can happen to any cat who has either a lot of fleas or fleas for an extended period of time. Left untreated, fleas multiply quickly and the more of them a cat has, the more blood is lost. Anemia can be observed outside of a veterinarian office in the form of lethargic behavior, but it takes a vet to spot anemia in the gums, that become pale when they lose color. This is a potentially life-threatening condition; therefore, if your cat has fleas and is acting very tired, contact an animal hospital at once.
What In The World Can You Do For Your Poor Cat?
Minor scratching may not cause you to really take note of what's going on with your animal, which can give fleas an opportunity to breed. Check itching, even when minor, peering closely at the underlying skin and looking for black dots and flakes or anything moving. If this is your first experience with fleas, call a vet for help. Even if it's not, though, you can't ignore the possible health threats:
- Call your vet as soon as you see the first flea, to report all symptoms and seek the best advice on eradication
- Bring your cat to the vet if you suspect an allergic reaction to flea bites
- If your cat is acting too sleepy or lacking oomph, consider the possibility of anemia and prepare for an appointment at the pet hospital
- Use whatever medication your vet provides you to treat the fleas and your cat, including antibiotics given for infection and even if your feline protests
- Form a strategy for flea-prevention in your home, yard and most especially, on your pets
While preventing fleas is preferable, sometimes they're unavoidable, especially if your pet goes outdoors or anyone in your household comes in contact with other animals. Having fleas doesn't mean you've done anything wrong, it's more a consequence of living with Mother Nature, all of whom's creatures aren't as cute and cuddly as you might like.
There's really no such thing as "just a few fleas" when it comes to pets. Always respond with urgency when you notice them or indications they're present in your house or on your cat and don't think it's silly to call an animal hospital over this issue, because it can be far more threatening than most people think.