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Fleas- How do you pet owners deal with this?

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Strawberry, Aug 29, 2017.

  1. JohnCB

    JohnCB Immoderate

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    I think once you suffer an infestation, you need to throw everything at it and then remain vigilant. The techniques are treat the cat, spray the floors, vacuum and vacuum, cat combing. Once you see fleas around you are going to be having to deal with them for some while.

    For ten years I did not have a problem. I used Frontline spot-on and similar products on a moderately regular basis. I didn't see any fleas and I decided the stuff must be very effective. Then one day that changed. Gradually I worked out what I needed to do and I thought I had got rid of them - they came back and I got rid of them and they came back again.

    I think, and it is very easy to come up with all sorts of theories when dealing with these ghastly little parasites, is that fleas had probably not been prevalent in the local area. What changed is that the woman with multiple cats in the flats up the road lost her job. Some months after that I actually had her knocking on my door and begging, saying she could not even buy food for her cats. I suspect that she may have economised on flea treatment, but that is guess work. There are several cats in the area, so I think as soon as one has fleas, they all have fleas. It needs everyone to be vigilant.

    First off, I think chemical spraying with insecticide. A large can of Bob Martin fleas spray from the supermarket was enough to do the house.

    Secondly frequent vacuuming. Suck up the newly emerged fleas and the eggs that will be falling off the cats fur all the while (once you check, there are a lot).

    Thirdly use Frontline or similar spot-on if you haven't already done so in the last 3 or 4 weeks.

    Fourthly, combing with a fine tooth comb intended for the job (they can slide through the gaps in an ordinary comb). In an outbreak that might mean a daily session of ten to twenty minutes. Dump the ones you capture into a bowl of water with a drop of washing-up liquid, without the later they don't sink. Alternatively have some strips of sticky tape and use that to imobilise the ones you catch. Otherwise they will be back on the cat within seconds. The ones you comb out need to be killed.

    I think the spray on the floors will have the biggest effect overall. Spot-on is is good to help keep them at bay, but it doesn't act quickly enough to deal with all visitors that find the cat. The strength is limited - it's poisonous to the cat too in sufficient quantity. Fipronil used in many spot-ons only claims to kill fleas with 24 hours. Even after using it you will be able to comb out new fleas each day until the problem is resolved.

    The combing does give relief to the cat. They are very unhappy when they are under attack. When it appreciates that you are removing fleas it may well keep still for 20 minutes of combing, but once they are gone the cat will be impatient after 60 seconds.

    Once you have cleared the present problem, the spray on the floor couple with the spot-on on the cat will keep things under control for several months perhaps, but if they are in the environment, they will be back. It there are other cats sharing the range, the parasites will get passed on. Also the pupae, the third stage fleas between the larvae and the adults, can survive for up to a year. If using a can of shop bought spray you may well not get to everywhere, all the little cracks and under everything you have in a house. You may not be quite as free of them as you think. The pupae are fairly immune to the spray untill they emerge.

    So for that last reason you need to keep up regular vacuuming and using the crevive tool into the corners.

    The first time you get an infestation, it is a total shock. Without getting in a specialist it may well take several weeks to get clear and even then they can still reappear. Keep dosing the cat regularly and keep a can of spray in reserve. I am still trying to figure out a long term strategy that doesn't involve getting rid of the cat.

    How do you do all this without crashing? Simple answer - I don't know. Adapt your pacing, let other tasks go. Dealing with fleas is demanding. I stopped vacuuming daily when it became impossible.

    I do recommend getting a lightweight vacuum cleaner. I got a lightweight handheld vacuum. I chose one that would be good to manoeuvre into corners and gaps. It is significantly less effort than my old standard cylinder model, but it needs emptying frequently.
     
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  2. Valentijn

    Valentijn Senior Member

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    Does it help to have a flooring which isn't carpet?
     
  3. JohnCB

    JohnCB Immoderate

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    It may, but I think it would depend on how many joins are in the flooring. I don't think traditional floorboards would make a great difference. If the floor is well sealed and continuous then it may well help.

    However the eggs are very small (about half a millimetre) and very loose. The are not sticky - they don't stick in animal fur but fall out very easily. If you blow on them they will roll quite easily on a smooth surface. So on a wood floor they will soon get pushed by normal movement of people and animals to gaps and edges. The larva when hatched are tiny little threads and head away from light into dark places. You are only going to see them if you know where to look and are quite clear what you are looking for. Even then they are very missable.

    This is why vacuuming is recommended.

    The best approach is prevention. Regular preventive treatment of animals. Spraying sleeping areas. Washing bedding (as if a cat will adopt one place as a bed!). Combing and recognising flea dirt when you see it. It amazed me how little fleas are visible until things get out of hand. My cat has areas of white fur but even there they quickly disappear under the thick layer of hairs.

    Keep a supply of products ready to act at first sign.
     
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  4. erin

    erin Senior Member

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    I cope with this problem in winter Bob Martin spray and borax the carpets as suggested above posts. I took my carpets away in the summer and cats prefer outdoors most of the time.
     
  5. ahmo

    ahmo Senior Member

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    I'm using a flea comb. When I had an infestation, I made a tea of neem leaves and sponged it on them. Not sure if it helped. I was also vacuuming twice daily, but my space is small. Still a drag. Also crushed neem leaves (mine were dried) where they sleep. Outside, which it sounds like you don't need, I bought nematodes and put them on areas they hang out, these critters eat the larvae. Good luck.
     
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  6. Hilary

    Hilary Senior Member

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    Hi @Strawberry - very sorry to hear you're having to deal with this. I have three cats and I would normally treat them monthly for flea prevention. A couple of years ago, I got a bit blase about this and didn't bother for a month or two - result: terrible infestation and I got badly bitten up my legs. Think the cats were pretty fed up too..

    I really didn't want to use any sprays in the house so relied on vacuuming but also had to change my bed daily for a while (they'd been sleeping on there - not allowed any longer, much to the cats' disgust...). I had some help from a couple of friends but had to do much of it myself which made me so ill. Hobson's choice - noxious sprays or over exertion from vacuuming.......... Several people told me I'd never get rid of them without spraying floor and furniture but I did and I now keep them treated during the summer months with Activyl (more effective than Frontline which apparently lots of fleas are now resistant to).

    I really hope you can get it sorted - could you get someone to help you fix your robot? :cat:
     
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  7. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Senior Member

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    We don't currently have cats, but did for many years in the past. We used a thing called Program that you mix with their food. It doesn't kill adult fleas, but kills the earlier parts of the life cycle (sorry word dead this afternoon!).

    Here's google on it (because I'm in UK it prob gives fewer US sites?):
    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=program for fleas for cats&oq=program for fleas for cats&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.7847j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    And here's a US site that talks about it:
    http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=26 1303&aid=1471

    We found it very effective. We used it year round, as with central heating we figured the eggs would hatch all year round in the carpets in our warm house!

    Years ago we had a very bad flea infestation (before I got ill) and the council came and sprayed our house. :eek: There is no way we could do that now, or over the last 25 years. Heaven knows what they used, but whatever it was there's no way we could cope with that in our home these days. Almost certainly organophosphates, definitely a no no!

    Good luck - flea infestation isn't a lot of fun! :rolleyes: :eek: :rolleyes:
     
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  8. Strawberry

    Strawberry Senior Member

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    Wow, wayyy too many responses to respond to! Thank you!

    So in summary (for me) I am going to ask the vet about the chewable Comfortis next time I go to the vet, which needs to be soon (we have a local rabies outbreak and Pixie is lapsed on her vaccination). I'm done with the drops, they just are not effective with her. Even though her fur still has the "slick" look from the drops last weekend, she is still acting as if she is being bitten. It may be that she is allergic and doesn't have fleas, but I don't think the drops are effective on her thick long fur type. And fleas are very bad locally this year, we had too warm of a winter.

    I'm also going to research diatomaceous earth to make sure it won't destroy my hardwood floors. If it won't damage the finish, that may be my long term solution. I've never heard of it used indoors before.... (Okay maybe not! https://www.diatomaceousearth.com/blog/how-to-clean-up-diatomaceous-earth/ ) Ugh.

    And a flea comb, although it is very difficult to get through her fur. But I'll try.

    I also just realized, we are closing early today for the US holiday, so I can get to the vacuum shop before they close (as long as THEY don't close early!). So I am going to buy a vacuum tonight. Its a 3 day weekend, so I can pace myself better vacuuming. Or at least, that is my story and I'm sticking to it!

    Thank you to everyone for the responses, this should be a really good future resource for cat or dog owners. Such good information!

    Wish me luck, I will do my hardest not to make myself crash hard!
     
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  9. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    Good luck!

    One idea is to try an ozone generator. You and all pets would need to leave the house for a day or two though. I have one you could borrow if you like.

    I freelance housecleaning in the Seattle area. I sadly cannot offer my services for free, but I'd be happy to help with the vacuuming if you need it!
     
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  10. Strawberry

    Strawberry Senior Member

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    Well so far this has been a major fail. The vacuum shop I grew up with closed, so I went somewhere else. It wound up they only have used refurbished for sale, and only 3 that were functioning. So I passed. But since I was a block away from my favorite pharmacy I bought all my supplements that I have been out of for a few weeks. Now I can barely walk from being in the pharmacy! So I'm doing nothing. Although I rememberd this morning I have my daughters car shop vac, so I do have something to use when my muscles can move again. But not this weekend! I just hope the fleas don't get out of control. They are minimal for now, although Pixie begs to differ!

    @Dainty thank you for the offer, I will pm you in the next week or two. So glad you are able to work again, and I'm very willing to pay you!
     
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  11. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    Poor Pixie. :(

    I got to meet Strawberry and Pixie today! Strawberry is awesome, and has awesome strawberry plants to match.

    Pixie wasn't sure what to think of my gas mask. After staring at me for a good minute or two, she bolted out and was not to be seen again until after I'd left. :eek:

    Hopefully the fleas' days are numbered.
     
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  12. IreneF

    IreneF Senior Member

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    Before topicals came on the market we had an entire ritual we performed once a month. First we'd give the cats a bath with insecticidal soap. (The fleas would skedaddle up to their faces, where we could see them.) We put something they could grab onto with their claws at the bottom of the sink. We put towels in the dryer to warm, then got them as dry as possible. We left them in a back room that they usually couldn't enter and then sprayed the rest of the house. I think we left the house for a little while for the stuff to dry.

    I think we eventually got rid of the fleas. This was such an unpleasant process that I don't think we could've kept it up for very long.

    The current cats are indoor/outdoor, but the topical still seems to work. We need to use it during the warmer months.

    My daughter gives her cat an oral med she gets from the vet.
     
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  13. Strawberry

    Strawberry Senior Member

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    She sure did! :D She did a great job cleaning too, its been 9 months since my floors were cleaned that thoroughly. They look great! But we still have work to do... Fleas don't go away over night, but we will get there.

    I gotta tell you all, this young lady has come so far, it made me happy to see how far she has come with her health. So grateful she is able to help me!

    I still need to get Pixie into the vet and ask about Comfortis (or similar), but at least we are reducing the population.

    @IreneF You are brave to bathe a cat!
     
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  14. IreneF

    IreneF Senior Member

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    @Strawberry It wouldn't have been possible to bathe them without two people. The cats were fairly docile and we kept their claws clipped because they were indoors-only. We wouldn't have done it if there had been better flea control products at the time.

    One of the cats was allergic to flea collars and allergic to fleas.
     
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  15. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    You can buy electronic combs that will kill fleas as you go through the animal's fur. I had one when I was holidaying in a mosquito inhabited place which was in the shape of a tennis raquet and it was brilliant, killed them immediately with a satisfying pop.
     
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  16. IreneF

    IreneF Senior Member

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    That reminds me of a cat we used to have. She would cracklewhen you stroked her in winter, from the static electricity.
     
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  17. svetoslav80

    svetoslav80 svetoslav80 at gmail.com

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    I used to have three cats, my neighbor had one too. One summer we had so much fleas ... my hair is getting straight when I remember. I think they were more of a problem for me than for the cats. My legs were covered with pimples, and they hurt awful. I don't think there's non-toxic solution for this - permethrin, cypermethrin, etc ... I sprayed the whole house - inside and outside, twice with two weeks interval, and the fleas were gone, fortunately.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017

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