Q: My cat, KitKat, who never goes outside, is infested with fleas. How did she get them, and how do I get rid of them?
A: It’s not uncommon for indoor cats to have fleas, particularly during the late summer and fall (flea season).
Your shoes and clothing probably carried a few fleas indoors, where they hid in your carpets and upholstery and reproduced. The family dog or mice could also have transported the fleas into your home.
If you moved in recently, the previous tenant may have left the flea problem. When the tenant moved out, each flea larva formed a protective cocoon and waited in it for many months. When the maturing fleas sensed movement and carbon dioxide, they emerged as adult fleas ready to bite.
Ask KitKat’s veterinarian to prescribe medication to kill her fleas. Options are a flavored tablet given monthly, a liquid applied to the skin every month, or a collar that works for eight months.
In addition, you should vacuum frequently, changing the vacuum cleaner bag each time. Wash KitKat’s bedding in hot water and dry it in a hot dryer.
If your flea infestation is severe and these measures don’t work, you’ll have to treat your home too. Note: If you use a flea fogger, you’ll also need a spray, as foggers don’t reach under furniture or into corners. Carpet powders—such as diatomaceous earth and borate—kill fleas by abrading their shells and drying them out.
It may be a challenge, but victory will be yours.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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