Fleas cause torment to your cat. It sucks their blood and ruins their skin. If not addressed right away, the flea infestation will take its toll on your home and your cat’s health. But can cats die from fleas? The gruesome answer is yes, cats can succumb to death if the flea infestation is left to progress without any treatment.
The nature of a flea infestation
Fleas are hardy pests. They don’t need much in life to survive. These pesky insects can hide on your cat’s coat without being seen. It can hop from one spot to another so that the infestation spread can wreak havoc on a multi-feline household.
Fleas are wingless insects that grow up to 0.1 to 0.32 cm. Their tiny size allows them to propagate without being seen. It can’t fly, but it can jump for as high as 7 inches. This is their main mode of traveling and reaching a host.
Fleas feed on cats’ blood. They can also do the same for humans and other warm-blooded animals. But since we don’t have fur they can cling to, fleas gravitate toward cats and furry animals.
Every pet owner is no stranger to fleas. Even the most cared for cats will have a flea infestation at least once its lifetime. It’s important to seek a solution even before fleas cause endless trouble for your pet.
The key here is spotting the infestation in its infancy. Make sure that you watch out for the following symptoms:
- Frantic and incessant scratching
- Biting the affected part
- Hair loss and bald patches
- Reddish skin lesions and scabs
- Edging and agitation
- Pepper-like specks on the fur
- Presence of fleas around the house
How your cat get fleas
Fleas are everywhere. These pests infect birds, dogs, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, mice, and basically almost every furry and warm-blooded mammal. This is the reason why even indoor cats can catch fleas. But if you’re wondering how your kitty got the nasty pest, here are the possible scenarios:
- Playing in the yard. The outdoor dirt is every flea’s favorite hangout spot. It’s possible that an infected animal dropped the flea. And as your cat roams and rolls on the yard, the flea gets to hitchhike on its fur. The rest is an infestation history.
- Contact with infected animals. Cats love chasing birds. And if they get to catch one with fleas, there’s a possibility that the kitty will also get the infestation. The same applies to other animals. If you have an indoor cat, a visiting cat or dog might be the carrier.
- Vet visit. Yes, even the vet clinic isn’t as safe as it seems to be in terms of infestation. A lot of animals are brought to the vet for a lot of reasons, including flea infestation. And since these insects are small and sneaky, it can hide on the clinic’s tiny crevices, waiting for another host.
- You. Before you put the blame on others, you should consider the fact that you probably brought the flea to your pet. This insect can hitchhike on clothing and other belongings. And once you get home, it will drop off and hop into your cat.
There are many other possibilities where your cat caught fleas. What matters is the solution you will seek to eradicate the pest immediately.
Can cats die from fleas?
Cats, especially kittens, are very vulnerable to infestations. While they groom their bodies regularly, it’s not enough to ward off blood-sucking pests.
A prolonged flea infestation can cause anemia. This will weaken the cat’s body and result in further complications. If the cat isn’t given immediate veterinary care, death will be imminent.
This is exactly what happened to a family of kittens in the UK back in 2016. Their owner, Angela Tennant, allowed her kittens to be in a horrific state of flea infestation. Unfortunately, it’s too late when the RSPCA has arrived to rescue the cats.
In the end, all three kittens died. One collapsed even before the RSPCA was able to rescue them. This kitten has to be put to sleep while the other two eventually died later on. Their mother cat survived but is in a hapless condition as well.
Fleas will literally suck out the life out of a cat. While it may start as a single flea, it can progress into a full-blown infestation if you don’t take a proactive approach. You should also note that the flea you see on your cat’s fur is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a bigger larvae population brewing in your home and waiting to hatch.
Take note that the flea problem will not go away on its own. It will only get worse the longer you put off the treatment. Worse, your cat will suffer from possibly irreversible consequences.
What you need to do
While self-medicating your cat may work to some extent, it will not remove the entire flea population in your home. And if you have other cats, the problem will be much bigger and exponential.
If you suspect that one of your cats have fleas, you should do the following steps:
🐱Call the vet
The very first thing you should do is to call the vet. This way, you will get proper advice as to how to tackle the infestation. If only one cat is infected, that kitty will have to be isolated. Sometimes, the vet will ask that you bring the cat to the clinic. The kitty will be treated there and confined until you have fixed the flea problem at home.
Depending on the extent of the infestation, your cat may need intensive treatment. Remember that you should never use a dog flea collar on a cat. This is due to the higher chemical dose, which will make the cat sick.
Only the vet can determine the right treatment for the kitty. The vet will also recommend the right move to take for the other cats at home.
🐱Put all cats on a flea prevention treatment
Once you have secured the infected cat, you should also get the other kitties at home checked. Regardless if they are infected or not, you should put all the cats under a flea prevention treatment as determined by the attending veterinarian.
The most common flea prevention options are cat flea collars. Your cat can provide this to you, and it will protect the kitties from the fleas that may get into their coat. The medication on the collar will kill all the fleas either through contact or by biting.
In this video, Karen Hiestand from Cats Protection tells us how to address flea infestation on your pet cats:
🐱Clean your house
The next big step is to eradicate the flea population in your home. This isn’t a simple task because fleas can hide pretty well on tiny crevices that are far beyond your reach. For starters, you should include these on your cleaning list:
- Vacuum your carpet to remove fleas, both adults and eggs that are on the surface.
- Wash all your bedding and your cats’ things using soap and hot water if possible.
- Steam-clean all carpets and upholstery (if possible) to kill remaining fleas. The steam will also seep through tiny spaces.
- Vacuum crevices and hidden spots like the back of furniture.
- Consider a professional if the infestation is massive.
Tips to prevent flea infestation on your cat
The only cure to flea infestations is life-long prevention. Your cat will always be at risk of contracting the infestation, so you should place a preventive plan. Here are some of the vet-recommended tips:
- Consider giving preventive flea medication to your cat. The vet can prescribe either a topical or oral product that you can give your cat periodically to keep it protected from fleas.
- Treat your yard. Fleas survive on the soil, so you should also clean your yard after you finish eradicating the pest inside your home. You can use pesticides, but make sure that you keep your cats away from possible contact.
- Make it a habit to vacuum your home. Cleaning and sanitizing your home is an excellent way to prevent fleas from propagating inside your house.
- Mind who your cat plays with. If a guest brings a cat or dog into your home, you can ask politely if the kitty has a flea prevention treatment. Fellow pet owners will understand why you ask. You can also tell them that you’ve just got through an infestation and just being careful.
- Check your cat always. Brushing your cat daily will let you check its coat for the presence of pests like fleas. The moment you spot any signs, you must take action by calling the vet. You can also perform home remedies that the vet has previously recommended.
Can cats die from fleas? Unfortunately, yes, there are many cats that die from fleas. This is mainly because of their owners’ negligence and failure to seek proper treatment. So if you suspect that your cat is infested with fleas, you shouldn’t hesitate to call the vet right away. Being proactive will save your cat from the agony of the infestation. It will also do yourself a big favor.