Makes you itch, doesn't it? Little black blood sucking insects, that can jump far too high for their own good. And then there they are, crawling around your poor fluffy cat, biting him, and making him itch. And they aren't even polite enough to leave their droppings elsewhere are they? No, they leave them not only in the fur of your cat, but in your carpets, cushions, rugs, curtains...
Fleas are the bane of a cat owners life. It's virtually impossible to avoid them; especially if you have outdoor and social felines. So at some point, you are going to need to get down to the itchy stuff, and try and uproot the nasty creatures from your cat and your home.
How you will know if they have come to stay :
The easiest way is to look at your cat. Is he/she scratching a little more than usual? Invest in a fine tooth comb, grab the cat in question (being careful to avoid the claws) and have a quick comb through the fur on his back, tail, behind the ears, under the chin, and on the tummy. Check after every run through with the comb, and if you see black specks caught between the teeth of the comb, carefully remove them, and place them on a damp tissue. If they turn a coppery red after a short while, congratulations! Your cat has fleas! These black specks are the flea's droppings - left behind to feed the larvae that emerge from the eggs that they lay. They fall off the cat, and into the surrounding areas. Lovely stuff. The more droppings you find on your cat, the more active fleas you have to deal with.
The Next Part :
The next thing to do, is to comb your cat throughly, placing all loose fur, droppings and any stray fleas in a bowl of warm water. You can not squash a flea - the easiest way is to drown them. It takes a while getting used to grabbing them before they escape to freedom - they are speedy little things - but eventually you'll get the hang of it. Then chuck all the water, fur, droppings and dead fleas down the toilet, flush (and repeat with added bleach if you still feel a little grossed out). This way nothing spreads.
Once you have dealt temporarily with the cat; take a visit to either your vet, or the supermarket. The latter is more reliable for smaller infestations; whereas if you have a rather large job on your hand, many cats, or you haven't done this before, you might want to visit the former for advice before you start messing around with the chemicals.
There are plenty of products available for halting the fleas in their footsteps; the prices can range from fairly cheap, to pretty damn expensive (especially if you have a number of felines to de-flea). You can purchase the following quite easily:
Flea Collars - good for the cat that stays outside for 90% of the day as it's a mobile flea-killing device. However, they tend to rub away at a cats neck, and if not made of elastic and fastened carefully, they can end up catching on things whilst the cat is active. Potentially fatal, so if you do choose this option, choose carefully, and always make sure you can slip at least two fingers between the collar and the cat's neck.
Powders - The traditional method, but never the best, as cats wash themselves and you may have small children around. Cheap and convenient though.
Aerosol Spray (for use in the general house) - very handy as long as you keep the windows open, they tend to be quite cheap and readily available. However you do have to evacuate the room for an hour or so, which isn't workable in a busy house. And they smell pretty awful.
Aerosol spray (for use on the Cat) - Have you ever hissed at a cat? Does it like it? This is one of the worst methods ever thought up. After one dose, the feline becomes petrified of all cans resembling an aerosol canister. Attempt to use at your peril.
Pills/Injections - Both are usually available from your local vet, as long as you can get the thing into your cats mouth or backside, you are home free. This is also a good option for the cat that might be allergic to other solutions. Can get a tad expensive.
Spot Treatment - You dab a spot of liquid on the back of the cat's neck (or any other inaccessible-by-tongue area) and over a period of time, it spreads across the skin surface, aided by the natural movemennt of the cats body; killing off fleas and their eggs. It usually lasts for about a month, depending on which specific brand name you choose to buy. However, some cats might object to it. Well. Cats object to everything really...
Repeating activity once every one to two months usually serves as an excellent preventative from any future infestation. Be aware that as weather gets warmer, flea activity does naturally increase, and you can never really get rid of every single insect. And if in doubt, always consult your vet. Your cat could be one of the unfortunate ones that is allergic to generic treatment.