No flea life stage can live in cold weather below 30°F for more than 5 days, which leads to the common misconception that your cat can’t get fleas during the winter1. While your cat has less of a chance of getting fleas during the winter, it’s certainly not impossible.
The problem is that all it takes is one flea, and if your cat is near another cat while they’re outside, the fleas can easily jump over. Fleas prefer a certain temperature and humidity level to thrive. While they may slow down their life cycle during the winter when they’re outside, they remain active indoors throughout the entire year.
If an adult flea bites your cat, it will certainly cause them a degree of itching and discomfort. However, in addition to this, fleas can transmit diseases to your cat2. Fleas can carry tapeworm larvae and different bacteria such as Bartonella, Rickettsia, and Wolbachia.
Fleas and the Winter
While most people only think about their cat getting fleas during the warmer months, it’s still possible for them to get fleas in winter! That’s because although fleas slow down their life cycle during the winter months, they don’t die.
And if your cat has fleas, they’ll likely become active when your cat is indoors since fleas love those temperatures! So, even while fleas may not be as prolific when they are outside, if there are fleas inside your home, they’ll remain active year-round.
How Do You Know If Your Cat Has Fleas?
Because cats are fastidious groomers and fleas are extremely good at hiding, sometimes it can be quite challenging to figure out if your cat has fleas. Often one of the first signs you’ll see if your cat is dealing with a flea infestation is an uptick in how much they scratch themselves.
Flea bites leave behind hard, red spots that you might be able to spot. From there, you can use a flea comb to try to pick up any flea dirt or, less likely, any of the actual fleas to confirm the infestation.
Finally, while fleas are notoriously difficult to spot and move quickly, sometimes you can physically see them as you pet your cat or move their hair around a bit. If you see fleas running around on your cat, it’s a clearcut sign of an infestation, and there are likely many more you need to worry about.
Top 4 Tips for Getting Rid of Fleas
If your cat has fleas, you want to get rid of them, and fast. But to do that you need to know what you’re doing. That’s why we highlighted exactly what you need to do to get all the fleas off your cat as quickly as possible.
1. Clean EVERYTHING
Fleas jump, crawl, and love to hang out in tons of different places. Because of this, you need to clean the whole house, not only where your cat hangs out. This means washing bedding, blankets, and sofa covers, as well as thoroughly vacuuming and sweeping floors, carpeted areas, and along the edges of walls. If you miss a few areas and there’s a flea hanging out there, that’s all it’ll take to restart the infestation.
2. Treat Your Cat
There are a few different flea treatment options out there, and we recommend talking to your vet about the best one for your cat.
If your cat enjoys baths, you can start by giving them a flea bath. This is a bath using a shampoo that actively fights and kills adult fleas. Follow the directions on the shampoo and give it plenty of time to soak in and find and kill all the fleas before washing it off.
Next, use a product that will kill all four flea life stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult). You can choose a topical flea treatment that you apply directly to their fur, a collar, or a tablet. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully. For example, some topical treatments need to be applied a couple of days before or after the bath to avoid washing off.
If you have more than one furry friend at home but you only find fleas on one of them, that does not mean they are the only ones getting bitten. You must treat all your pets; otherwise, the infestation will persist.
3. Treat Your House
As well as cleaning, washing, and vacuuming your home, you may need to use a special home flea spray. The spray stops the development of flea eggs and larvae and kills adult fleas in those hard-to-reach areas, such as cracks in the floor, skirting boards, and furniture.
Use a flea spray in every room after vacuuming, and take the time to do this well. Make sure you read carefully and follow the instructions on the packaging about dosage and frequency and keep your pet and family away while it works.
4. Keep Up With Prevention
If you’re constantly treating adult fleas but never trying to prevent them, you’re going to end up fighting a never-ending battle. You need to treat for adult fleas to kill the current ones, but you also need to use preventative flea (and tick) control to keep them from coming back. Products with insect development inhibitors may be used to help prevent immature fleas from maturing or reproducing.
While fleas prefer warm temperatures, it is certainly possible for a cat to get fleas all year round. Moreover, fleas are not just pesky parasites that can make you and your cat itch; they also transmit diseases. So take all of the necessary steps and precautions to keep your cat from getting fleas. All it takes is one flea to turn into an infestation that can be extremely challenging to get rid of!
Featured Image Credit: Morgentau , Shutterstock