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C2004-42

Dear Christopher Cat

Our cat doesn’t go outside, but he nevertheless has fleas. How did this happen, and how can we prevent it in the future?

Christopher Responds

The same thing happened at our house this fall.

Fleas are at their worst during the late summer and fall, and you humans may have given a few of them a ride into the house on your trousers or shoes.

Visit your veterinarian for a safe, effective flea treatment.
Next year during flea season, you have two options.

The first is to prevent those few fleas that get into the house from reproducing by giving your pets Program or Sentinel once a month.

Although these products don’t kill adult fleas, they prevent infestations by keeping the biting flea’s eggs from developing into adults and continuing the life cycle.

Another option is a topical product such as Advantage, Frontline or Revolution, which you can use as a preventive or only if you see fleas. These products quickly kill adult fleas and are reapplied to the skin monthly. Flea collars are less effective.

It’s important to use only those products labeled for cats. Some products intended for dogs are deadly to us cats.

To spot fleas early, comb your cat every week during the summer and fall. Use a flea comb with closely-spaced teeth that can remove live fleas and “flea dirt,” a euphemism for flea feces.

Flea dirt, actually digested blood, hides near the skin as black specks. Flea dirt is easy to distinguish from regular dirt if you place it on a paper towel, dampen it and smear it.

Flea dirt leaves a telltale red-brown streak -– telling you it’s time to start treating for fleas.

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