Our vets get asked this a lot when they visit perplexed owners that can’t figure out why their cat is scratching themselves senseless. They have been so careful and diligent in ensuring their cat has never been outside and can’t understand how their beloved kitty is riddled with fleas.
It is a common misconception that an indoor pet is unable to catch fleas. Fleas don’t discriminate and if they are unable to get into your home hitching a ride on your pet, they have many more, equally cunning ways of letting themselves into your home, including hitching a ride on you!
The common flea is actually one of nature’s most impressive athletes, being able to jump 18cm high and over 33cm long or over fifty times their own body length, all in the endeavour to secure themselves a passing host. This is a huge feat for such a tiny creature, but a feat that is understandably not appreciated by pet owners, or their pets. So how can these little critters get into your home and onto your loungeroom dwelling cat?
There are a few common ways a flea can enter your home without hitching a ride on your pet, the most common being:
- Pests and Vermin: Fleas really aren’t picky and if they can’t secure themselves a meal from your pet, they’ll gladly latch onto any number of passing animals. From rats, to mice to possums and birds, fleas can make their way into your home on the back on of one of these little critters or even jump through an open window as they pass by. Then it is just a matter of time before your cat becomes their new best friend.
- Previous owners: We’re not saying that the previous owners of your home were infested with fleas. What we mean here is that your “new” flea infestation may not be all that new. Fleas can lay dormant, hidden in the fibres of your carpet without feeding for months. Whilst you thought your new home was vacant for a few months before you moved in it may actually have been home to a little community of fleas that become active when they feel the vibrations of you and your pet moving around them.
- On you or your family: Given that we have far less body hair than our pet’s this seems unlikely, doesn’t it? But the truth is fleas can be everywhere and are more than happy to latch onto you and hide in the fibres of your clothing until something better comes along. Fleas can be found in grass, bushes or even in soil and once you’ve brought them inside they will detach from your clothing and wait for a more suitable host to pass them by.
So whilst your cat may not be venturing out into the great outdoors they are still at risk of catching fleas. We at Vets on Call firmly believe that prevention is always the best cure and in the case of a costly, time consuming and inconvenient flea infestation there have never been truer words. Thankfully, preventing your cat from getting fleas is simple, just use a flea prevention oral tablet or liquid that is applied directly to the skin once monthly and your pet will remain flea free.