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How can I tell if my kitties have fleas?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello,

My two sister kittens are 7 months old and have been indoor since I adopted them from the humane society when they were 5 months old. They were at the shelter for about a month before that.

In the past few weeks, I noticed once on each of them what looks like a black speck (at different times). When I tried to investigate it, the black speck seemed to move deeper into their hair. After the first time, I thought it was just my imagination, but this morning I saw the same thing on the other one. So, now I am freaking out.

Could it be possible that they have fleas? I thought that the humane society took care of that along with everything else. I also took them to the vet after I got them for a check-up. They don't scratch themselves that much. Also, they are indoor, I don't have many visitors, and I keep a clean home.

I have tried to look at their fur and see if there's anything else, but I haven't seen anything. Am I just freaking out over nothing?

If they do have fleas, what is the best treatment (are those chemicals bad for them?) and also, can I catch them in my hair?

Thank you!
-LK
post #2 of 11
Little black specks that run from you and start burying into the fur, are definately fleas! They hate humans! lol

If you still think you're going crazy, sit the kitties on a sheet of white paper, and comb/brush them a bit. The fleas may not come out, but any little black specks are flea poo and they brush out.

The eggs are white, so on some kitties they may be harder to see. The flea sizes also vary a tiny bit depending on their maturity. If you can pick one with your fingers and hold it, dont try to look at it, they are hard to suffocate and will jump from your fingers!

7 months is very young, i'm not sure what age you can start giving them treatment. I use Advantage monthly on Charlie, most of the people here use Frontline or Advantage. You should go to your local vet, and ask them what would be best for a young age.

Even if kitties have come from the shelter and passed a health test, they can still have fleas, or if you've previousely had cats, carpet/furniture/blankets can stil harbour the eggs. You need to wash/vacuum. Even if they don't scratch that much, they can be very irritating, and sometimes cats can end up being driven crazy and getting bald patches.

Talk to your vet.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Dragoriana, for your advice.

I went to the pet store and bought a "flea catcher comb" and lo and behold, they have fleas! ICK! I am so grossed out! I am a clean person! How did this happen?

I itch all over just thinking about it. Can the fleas set up in show in my hair, or does my daily shampooing get rid of them?

At my local pet shop, Frontline is $40. the nearest PetSmart does not seem to carry it. Is it better to get it online?

Lastly, I have hardwood floors with a couple of throw rugs. Will vacuuming (the couch too) get rid of the fleas?

Thanks again.
post #4 of 11
You can be the cleanest person on the earth, they don't get fleas from humans, but from other cats.

Humans can be bitten if there is a large infestation. Personally i've never found any fleas in my hair or on my skin, but when you handle your pets sometimes they can jump onto your clothing (they can jump about 5 inches apparently). The first thing to do is to treat your pets, it will take a few treatments to totally kill the fleas, but they still need them monthly or bi-yearly (depending on what you buy). I do suggest vaccuming any furniture or decore that the kitties heavely occupy.

You can get a medicated shampoo/soap for pets as well. Make sure on any package that it says kills both adult fleas & eggs/larvae. They need to be caught at all stages. The most important thing is to do it as soon as possible. Fleas can also be carriers of tapeworm, which is not pleasant. If an infestation is prolonged it can also cause flea bite anaemia which is detrimental to a cat.

In regards to your own hygeine, i think you should be ok the way you are. Fleas like warm areas (notices on kitties they can infest around ears where the blood supply is close to the surface, bellies etc). Just dont pick the kittie up and rub it all over your head! lol

Here's something you may also like to know.
5% of adult fleas live on your cat.
10% are pupae
35% are larvae
50% are eggs


Collars only kill fleas around the head/neck area. And ive heard reports that the chemicals are harmful to the cat (although i've never had any cats pass away from this)


Flea combs are good to CHECK for fleas, but unless you have one that zaps, a normal metal one removes very little debris.

Sprays can be messy, you need to wear gloves and sometimes cats do not like being held down for this.



Spot on treatments are the best. They only take a few seconds (if you know how to hold your pets to your best advantage). Advantage, Frontline and Revolution (kills worms as well except for tapeworm)

Try not too think or worry too much about fleas in regards to your own clothing, thinking about it makes it worse (in ref to your itching). Treat the home and your pets first.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks again Dragoriana.

I appreciate your attempt to calm my spazzing out.

Unfortunately, the pet shop that carries Frontline is already closed. I plan on stopping there after work to pick it up and treating the girls ASAP. I just hope that they don't have any other problems from the fleas. I don't know how long they've had them, so I am now being a "nervouse mommy" about their internal health. Gosh! Good thing I don't have children of my own yet! Kittens are like "training" for having kids! haha!

Should I call my vet and try to take them in this weekend? Are you supposed to buy Frontline only from vets, or is the shop okay? (It's a good shop, they are helpful with questions and they carry the good food.. the grain-free stuff, etc). Also, what's a reasonable price?

Lastly, should I wait to vacuume, etc, until after I treat the girls?

Thanks again! Sorry for all of the questions!
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by LondonKat View Post
Thanks again Dragoriana.

I appreciate your attempt to calm my spazzing out.

Unfortunately, the pet shop that carries Frontline is already closed. I plan on stopping there after work to pick it up and treating the girls ASAP. I just hope that they don't have any other problems from the fleas. I don't know how long they've had them, so I am now being a "nervouse mommy" about their internal health. Gosh! Good thing I don't have children of my own yet! Kittens are like "training" for having kids! haha!

Should I call my vet and try to take them in this weekend? Are you supposed to buy Frontline only from vets, or is the shop okay? (It's a good shop, they are helpful with questions and they carry the good food.. the grain-free stuff, etc). Also, what's a reasonable price?

Lastly, should I wait to vacuume, etc, until after I treat the girls?

Thanks again! Sorry for all of the questions!
You can do the vacuuming/washing now. Try maybe once a week along with your usual chores. If they LOVE certain areas of the house, concentrate on those more. You can go to a petshop or specialty pet store, and talk to someone there, they may ask you some questions first. If you are worried about your cats health in general, take them to a vet. Usually when you adopt you have a month or two where any follow up treatment needed is free from the shelter.

As i said, when you adopt they have a full health check. If for example they start sneezing/discharge from eyes/nose etc take them straight to the vet. For fleas, just go to a pet store or pet supply store and ask there for a treatment you can buy. And i have to say again, Advantage/Frontline/Revolution seem to be the most trusted/accurate treatments.
post #7 of 11
You've gotten good advice here. I just wanted to emphasize the point that you can be quite clean and still have fleas. As for the flea treatments, we've basically found it cost about the same from our vet as from one of the on-line stores, though your experience may be different. I would definately stick with one of the major brands already mentioned (Advantage/Frontline/Revolution.) All are quite good, but some of the other "off" brands you can pick up are usually not as effective and have a high rate of side effects.

Another note: I would suggest getting a small pack of whichever you choose to try. All three are quite good but on rare occasions some cats are sensitive to one or the other. This is usually nothing more than some hair falling out at the site and clears up on it's own in a week or so without much apparent discomfort to the animal. I wouldn't worry about it, but I'm just suggesting the first time to get as small a pack as possible just in case. If your cat does react (again, not very likely) then just switch to a different brand.

After you treat always vacuum the area and wash the cat's bedding. It will take at least 3 months of treatment to be sure you've got them all. Even though you will likely not see any fleas once treatment has started you'll want to be sure to treat for that full period to be sure to get them all.
post #8 of 11
If they move, they are fleas. You will need to treat both the cats and the house - fleas only stay on the host about 10% of the time - rest of the time they are in the carpet, furniture, etc.

Do NOT get flea collars - they are poisonous on the cats - but you can get one and cut it up and put in the vacuum cleaner. Get some Advantage or Frontline to use on your cats - talk to your vet about what's the best thing to use.

Fleas do get on people if dog/cat is not around.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Gosh, you guys are great!

As you might be able to tell by the number of times I've responded, I'm more than just a bit concerned about this.

I plan on picking up some Frontline tomorrow and calling the vet for her advice.

I wouldn't get flea collars. Also, vacuuming them up won't kill them? Is that why you suggested putting it inside the vacuume cleaner bag?

My kitties lick each other sometimes when they're grooming themselves and getting ready to nap. What happens if they lick the Frontline? Will it hurt them? Will it decrease the effectiveness?

If fleas do get on me, do they STAY in my hair, or do they wash out when I shampoo? Would the bites hurt and leave a mark like mosquitos? Would I itch? I've been psych-sematically itching all night.

Thanks again. I am so appreciative of your advice!
post #10 of 11
They probably won't lick it (bad tasting) but it shouldn't be an issue. Be sure you are using CAT Frontline, not the dog medication (different drug used, dog formula is NOT good for cats.) It soaks into the skin rather quickly, so they won't reduce its effectiveness even if they do decide to lick the spot.

The biggest issue with them licking each other is in swallowing fleas. Fleas are a vector for tapeworms. These days it's an easy check and an easy treatment for the vet to wipe out the tapeworms if the cats do get them, so I wouldn't worry about it. (The vet usually checks for such things at their annuals anyway.) Look at their poop (when it's "fresh") for something that looks like small wiggling grains of rice. If they do get tapeworms I would suggest using treatments from the vet, not some over the counter/online medication.

The cat flea can't reproduce on humans and their ability to survive on human skin is rather limited. Washing your hair should take care of it. Regular vacuuming carpets and cloth covered furniture plus washing bedding should take care of things. Since the fleas can only reproduce on the cats (or dogs if you have them) than this along with the flea treatment should take care of it. Back in the "olden days" fleas were a constant battle. Since the topical treatments have come out we have had one problem in 15 years - and that was from getting lazy about treating the dogs (we have both dogs and cats.) With that one outbreak we got back to treating the dogs like we should have and treated all the cats for three months. No problem since. (Was that 7 years ago?)
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone,

I just wanted to say thanks for the advice. I treated the girls with Frontline Plus yesterday and they seem to be more comfortable already.

I'll be cleaning the apartment all weekend. Yay!

Thanks again. Ya'll are great!

-LK
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