No need to wrestle your cat into a flea dip anymore. The latest preventive treatments are easy to apply. While shampoos and flea collars are still options, parasitologists have developed wonderful new weapons in the war against fleas and ticks. With simple monthly administrations of these oral, injectable, or topical medications, you can guard your cat against flea and tick infestations. Fleas and ticks are dangerous disease carriers that can make your cat's life miserable. Fleas can transmit tapeworms and cause itchy allergic reactions, which can lead to scratching, hair loss, and infection. Fleas ingest animals' blood, and the bloodsuckers can actually consume so much that some cats die of blood loss. Hence it's crucial to keep your cat flea-free.
These Treatments Keep the Pests Away
New medications prevent infestations by killing the adults that hitch a ride on your furry friend or by keeping their eggs from hatching. Here's what you need to know about the most common flea and tick preventives in your veterinarian's arsenal.
Program contains lufenuron, a chemical that prevents flea eggs from hatching but does not kill adult fleas. It is available as a monthly oral tablet or suspension and as a twice yearly veterinarian administered injection. This compound doesn't work against ticks.
Frontline is available in a dab-on formula or a spray. It uses fipronil to wipe out both fleas and ticks, and it continues to work even after you give your pet a bath.
Advantage (imidacloprid) is a topical treatment that also withstands washings and keeps killing fleas for a full month.
Revolution (selamectin) is the latest big gun among the monthly options for flea and tick prevention. You apply a few drops of the liquid medication to your pet's skin, and it guards against heartworms, flea eggs and adult fleas, ticks, ear mites, hookworms, and roundworms.
If Your Cat Has Been Infested
If you started using one of these flea medications after you discovered a flea infestation, you'll need to treat your house too. Fleas can live for several months in your house and yard, and flea eggs may hatch in your carpet, cushions, and drapes for years. Your cat isn't the only one at risk: People can get irritating fleabites too. Ridding your home of these pests takes time and a concerted approach. Here's what to do.
To get rid of housebound fleas
Use professional flea foggers in each room and sprays for hard-to-reach spots. Clean the flea eggs out of your house by vacuuming several times in a week. After each vacuuming session, remove vacuum bags and tape them closed, then throw the bags away. Also clean your cat's favorite hangouts and wash her bedding regularly.
If your flea problem is recurring
You may need to treat your yard as well. Use professional concentrated yard sprays for the outdoor fight. You can buy many that attach easily to the end of a garden hose for application. It's especially important to spray moist and shaded areas of your yard. Note: You should never use any environmental treatment directly on your pet. Ridding your pet and home of these hardy pests is a tough job, but you'll rest easier knowing that your cat doesn't have to endure the maddening itch or insidious diseases these parasites can inflict.
Chassie has been a volunteer for http://www.RescueCats.org since April 2000.