Common cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the most common parasite on the skin of a cat. Any cat can infect, except those that live at high altitude, as fleas do not live above 1500 meters. Cats living in houses can have fleas all year round.
Fleas survive by jumping on the host animal, digging into its skin and feeding on blood. In most cases, they cause only a slight itch, but in case of severe infection, especially kittens or elderly sick cats, they can cause severe anemia or even cat death. Also, fleas are intermediate hosts of helminths. Some cats have hypersensitivity to the saliva of fleas. This causes severe itching and a local or general skin reaction.
Infection with fleas can be detected by finding the fleas on the cat or seeing in the wool black and white grains, similar to grains of salt and pepper. These particles are feces of fleas ("pepper") and their eggs ("salt"). Feces are formed from digested blood. If you comb them out on damp paper, they become reddish-brown.
An adult flea is a small dark brown insect measuring about 2.5 millimeters, which can be seen with the naked eye. Although fleas do not have wings, and they can not fly, they have powerful hind legs, with which they can jump over long distances. Fleas move quickly in wool and are difficult to catch.
Look for fleas on the back of the cat and in the area of the tail and back of the trunk. To do this, walk around the crest along the wool. Sometimes fleas are visible in the groin area, where there is warmth and less wool. Itching is most pronounced in these areas.
New methods of fighting fleas
New drugs, such as Program, Advantage, and Frontline, have virtually replaced the use of solutions, powders, aerosols and shampoos in the treatment and prevention of fleas. New drugs are more effective and safe than traditional insecticides. They are also easier to apply.
The drug Program (trade name of lufenuron) was the first and remains one of the most popular drugs for fighting fleas in cats. Program is a tablet or liquid that is given once a month with food. Also, the drug is in the form of injections, which are administered every six months.
The active ingredient accumulates in the cat's subcutaneous tissue and acts when the flea bites the cat. Program inhibits the growth of eggs and the removal of fleas. This results in a steady decrease in the number of new fleas in the environment. Its effect is limited to the solid outer membrane of the flea, the drug is absolutely harmless to mammals. However, since the drug does not work on adult fleas, it can take 30 to 60 days or more before adult fleas die from age and you will notice a reduction in itching and scratching. The Program must treat all animals in the house so that the treatment is effective.
The drug Advantage (imidacloprid) is a topical liquid preparation that kills fleas by direct contact and is taken once a month.
After applying 98 - 100% of adult fleas die within 12 hours. Thus, any new fleas infecting a cat must die before they have a chance to lay eggs. This tears the life cycle of fleas and ultimately destroys all fleas in the environment. The drug Advantage is not absorbed by the cat's body and therefore is not toxic. People do not digest this chemical when dealing with a treated cat. With Advantage, you can treat the kittens from 8 weeks.
Frontline and Frontline Spray preparations contain the active ingredient fipronil, which kills fleas on contact for 24 to 48 hours. To the drug acted, the flea does not have to bite the cat. The preparation Frontline is a liquid preparation of topical application in tubes, it is applied in the same way as Advantage.
Frontline Plus contains S-methoprene, which kills adult fleas, eggs and larvae. It also heals against puffers and is used as part of the program for treatment of itchy scabies. The preparation Frontline Plus is intended for kittens from 8 weeks and more.
Revolution (selamectin), a prophylactic against cardiac worms, is a topical liquid that is applied once a month to the skin of the cat's neck between the shoulder blades, like Advantage. It also heals from adult fleas and prevents the removal of fleas from eggs. Selamectin can also be used in the treatment of ear mites, roundworms and nematodes, as well as some mites.