Where pets are concerned, fleas are a fact of life. But you and your cat do not have to suffer the misery fleas can bring, as it is relatively easy and inexpensive to prevent a problem from taking hold.
Read on to find out why the charity only recommends Advantage spot-on for effective flea control.
Advantage™ for cats:
Effective and easy to use, Advantage spot-on for cats has persistent activity against fleas as well as biting lice. It comes in a pipette and should be carefully applied to the skin, not on the fur, on the area behind the cat’s head between the shoulder blades. This is to prevent licking. The active dissolves in skin sebum and spreads rapidly over the body. It kills the adult fleas very quickly when they come into contact with the cat’s skin, thus preventing reproduction and egg laying (typically 24-48hrs after finding a host).
Rose Atkin, charity coordinator, told us: “We only use Advantage on the charity’s cats because in my experience it is the most effective treatment available. There are other spot-ons and different product types available from the vet and online, but these are not always reliable. And once a flea infestation takes hold in your home, it is very troublesome to eradicate.”
Dosage (weight dependent)
– 0.4ml pipette for small cats, or importantly elderly cats, weighing less than 4kg, and kittens over 8 weeks
– 0.8ml pipette for large cats weighing over 4kg.
If you are in any doubt about the correct dosage for your pet always consult a vet. NEVER use a dog product on a cat – it could be fatal.
Every 4 weeks. The flea-killing active remains effective on the cat’s skin for approx 4 weeks. After this time, your cat (and your house) will be vulnerable to fleas without regular preventive treatment.
Here are some more frequently asked questions with Rose’s answers:
1. My cat is an indoor cat, do I still need to flea it?
Yes. Anyone can unknowingly bring a flea into the house on their clothing – after using public transport, sitting in a pub, or visiting someone else’s house. Once in your home it will preferentially infest your cat, potentially lay eggs, and the problem could balloon from there. The flea is also an intermediate host for the tapeworm, so flea prevention is essential to the welfare of your pet.
2. Do I still need to treat my cat in the winter months?
Yes. Due to milder winters and central heating, fleas and their eggs can survive all year round. Missing even one month’s treatment can leave your cat vulnerable to infestation. One adult flea can lay 50 eggs a day, so it can very quickly get out of control.
3. My cat dislikes the spot-on, is there any alternative?
There are other products but none as effective as Advantage spot-on. The carrier liquid for the active is alcohol-based which will feel cold on the cat’s skin – it is this cold, wet sensation and the distinctive odour that the cat dislikes. These symptoms are temporary and will pass quickly once the product dries.
4. Are there any ‘natural’ flea treatments you would recommend?
No. Many so-called natural treatments have not undergone any safety or efficacy testing. Never put any non-licensed substance on your cat; if you are unsure if a product is licensed always consult a vet. Cats have very different physiology to humans, and dogs, and substances harmless to us can quickly poison them.
5. Do I have to buy Advantage from a vet?
No. It does not require a veterinary prescription. If you know the correct dosage for your cat you can buy Advantage more cheaply online, but always choose a reputable supplier. If you are in any doubt about the dosage required always consult a vet. The charity does not sell flea products.
Fleas: more facts
The adult flea sucks blood from the cat before laying eggs that fall to the ground from wherever the cat is resting; this could be outside, on their bedding, or on your carpet. In the right conditions, these will hatch in 10 days and the larvae will feed off flea droppings and dust in the carpet, before pupating. During this stage they also act as a host for the tapeworm. The pupae can remain dormant in the carpet for months and only hatch when they sense vibration, warmth or carbon dioxide – indicating the presence of another animal. They hatch and jump onto the nearest animal to feed; it could be us. Now that we tend to have central heating, fleas can survive and breed year-round in our homes and may even survive outdoors in milder winters.
Not only are fleas upsetting to owners, they often cause severe problems in cats. Their movement and biting causes itching and scratching. The most common problem we see in cats is due to an allergy to flea saliva which leads to Flea Allergic Dermatitis or FAD. A single bite can induce a severe reaction in affected cats. They can show severe scratching leading to self trauma, scabbing skin, baldness and wet eczema-type reactions.
There are various flea treatments available which vary in their effectiveness and work in different ways; they aim to target different points in the flea life cycle. Always make certain that you only use treatments intended for cats; it could be fatal to use anything intended for the dog, particularly spot-ons.
Overview of some commonly available flea products for cats:
*These products are NOT recommended as we believe there are safer and more effective alternatives
There are also sprays, available from your vet, to treat the house with; remember that 95-99% of a flea infestation is in your carpets, soft furnishings and cat bedding – and not on the cat. So, if there is a serious flea problem, the house needs treating as well. Wash all beddings at 60 degrees C and, if spraying the house, vacuum before spraying to encourage the pupae to emerge. Try to vacuum twice daily when treating the house.
Information on flea product actives: http://www.noah.co.uk/ National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)
Images courtesy Fotolia