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Please help!

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I have a year and a half old cat that I adopted from a shelter in January of this year. It is almost sick how much I love her. She is about 7 lbs and has short grey hair. I sometimes like to pretend that she is a Blue Chartreuse, but I secretly love that she is my little half-feral ally cat from Culver City. A little over a month ago I noticed her grooming obsessively and scratching incessantly. Low and behold, the flea comb proved my itchy suspicions.

Now for background’s sake… we live in a very small, second story flat in Santa Monica, which is mostly carpeted except for the kitchen and two small washrooms. She is never let outside. There are a few other cats in our building and I am almost positive that the overweight, longhaired tabby that I saw outside a couple of weeks ago is the flea culprit. You want know why? He was roaming outside in the courtyard with a completely shaven body… most likely the owner’s attempt of lessening the stress of flea combing a longhaired cat in the heat of July. I can only speculate, but I think its safe to assume that after walking past him and giving him a friendly scratch on the head, I dragged in a rogue flea; which then implanted itself into my house and cat, and began to do what pests do best… multiply.

So immediately after the discovery of blood-sucking, bubonic plague carriers on my kitty, I realized that my first regret was neglecting to prevent them in the first place with one of the most common, once-monthly topical treatments such as Frontline or Advantage. Nevertheless, I rushed to the nearest pet supply store to purchase the 100-and-some-odd dollar Frontline and administered it promptly to the skin between her shoulder blades. Thus began the month long saga of combing, sometimes bathing (with nothing more than a natural, and very gentle cat shampoo called Avoderm- made with avocado oil), vacuuming, empting vacuum, and vacuuming again. Oh and not to mention the LOADS of laundry (being that I was convinced that anything that touched kitty or the floor was infested with eggs or larvae). As the month drew to and end, I had nothing to show for it except for a broken vacuum, two legs bitten from shins to thighs, a case of insomnia (partly due to the actual bites on my legs but also due in large part to the psychosomatic itching I experience every time I lay in my bed), and a poor kitty covered in dermatitis. Oh yeah… and FLEAS! More and more fleas!

So what is a loving cat mom to do? First I booked Terminix to fumigate those suckers. While George (the Terminix chap) was spraying whatever chemicals $160 can buy, I took itchy kitty to her vet where I then spent another $200 for Program tablets, Prednisone pills for her itching and dermatitis, and an ointment for her irritated eyes (they became swollen the night before due to my experimentation with essential oils for a flea repellent- I only used it on myself and the carpet, but that was enough to cause her irritation). The vet reassured me that I was not alone- apparently this has been the worst flea season that California has ever seen. However she was positive that the combination of Frontline and Program would do the trick. Then for obvious safety reasons, I boarded her at The Best Little Cat House in Los Angeles for two nights ($96- a great place if you can afford it!) while I purchased a new high-tech vacuum from Bed Bath And Beyond and allowed the apartment to air-out.

It has been exactly one week since the fumigation, the second round of Frontline topical treatment, and the addition of a once-monthly Program tablet. After only 1 day of the Prednisone kitty’s dermatitis disappeared and I noticed a drastic decrease in grooming and scratching. She had her last pill today. However to my sincere HORROR, I am still combing fleas off her DAILY!! Granted I only find a few… but WHERE in the blazes are they coming from and why are they not being murdered by the meds and the chemicals? I have only had a couple more bites, but being a very sensitive-skinned Irish woman myself, it is misery! And they just take so long to heal… I fear that my legs will never get to see the light of day this swimsuit season. I have continued to vacuum not once but twice daily, and this does not exclude every square-inch of upholstered furniture. The bedding is washed obsessively, the down-comforter dry-cleaned ($27), curtains put through the wash (they’re cotton)… what am I missing?! And to top it all off… kitty has been sneezing like MAD the past two days, not to mention that something has been offending my allergies to the point where my nasal passages are painfully dry despite the constant need to blow my nose or sneeze. Could this be a reaction to the Terminix chemicals or flea meds or Prednisone? An outdoor pollen that has entered thorough the screened windows? Dust being kicked up from the constant vacuuming? Or could Kitty have caught something from The Best Little Cat House- like a viral cold of some sort? Not to worry, the vet will be hearing from me tomorrow. Am I not giving the meds and Terminix chemicals enough time to take its effect? Or are these some form of alien flea, immune to all pesticides, that has come to take my sanity and eat my kitty? As you can see, I am at my wits end (if there were any wits to be had after a month of poor sleep). I can’t go on like this… thankfully the dreadful economy has deemed me one of the many educated and unemployed, affording me all the time in the world to comb and clean, comb and clean, comb and clean. If anyone, anywhere has any advice that could help it would be appreciated beyond measure.

Yours truly,
Lyon's mom
post #2 of 3
What you're missing, is that most likely your neighbors and probably the area around the building is also infested.

I went through a bad flea situation years ago with sand fleas - they're smaller than cat fleas and really seem to prefer human blood when they can get it. They infested about a 2-3 block around where I lived. The neighbors were all suffering with us.
It was a bad summer for them and until we got a small cold front, and rain, all the attempts at flea control proved mostly useless.

I'm guessing you own your flat since you paid for your own spraying? If there's anyway possible to get the rest of the building treated and any grass and shrubs around it, that could help. This, as you know, is a health problem for anyone living there not just the pets.
There are a lot of past threads on here for things you can do around your home to help kill fleas - salt or human grade diatomaceous earth in the carpet, flea traps, flea collars in the vacuum bag (I think bagless could be a big disadvantage for vacuuming up fleas), keep up on the flea treatments and so on.

Some mention garlic as a way to keep fleas off dogs, maybe you could try eating more garlic or taking a garlic pill daily? Not advisable for your kitty, though, as they cannot safely tolerate more than the slightest amounts of garlic.

The sneezing, and your allergy issues, could be any number of things. Chemicals bother me, but usually it's a short of breath and headache response - not allergy like. Hopefully your vet has more insight for your kitty.
post #3 of 3
My grandparents had a similar flea problem (with four cats) except they have their own house and three of the cats go outside. They eventually discovered that Frontline Plus worked on three of the cats (the ones that go out) but not the fourth cat. So for that one, they had to use Advantage. It helped the situation tremendously. I haven't seen any fleas in their house since then.

I have indoor only cats and always had a serious flea problem every autumn for about five years. I eventually discovered that Frontline Plus is useless on my cats. When I switched to Advantage that was the end of the fleas. I haven't seen a flea in my house in over four years.

I'm not saying Frontline doesn't work, I'm just saying it doesn't work on some cats.
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