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Dear Christopher Cat

We found a stray kitten with tiny black specks stuck deep in her long, fluffy hair. What are they?

Christopher Responds

Those black particles are probably flea dirt, the euphemism for flea feces.

When fleas bite, they drink a bit of blood and later excrete black specks of the digested blood.

To determine whether your kitten’s specks are flea dirt, comb some from her hair and place them on a white paper towel. Wet them with a few drops of water and smear your finger across them. If you see a red-brown streak on the damp paper towel, your kitten has fleas.

Thankfully, killing them is easy. Simply apply a topical product such as Frontline Plus, Advantage or Revolution to your kitten’s skin.

If you choose a different flea product, make sure the package says it’s safe for cats, because some products formulated for dogs are lethal when applied to us cats.

To check for fleas on me, my mom combs my hair every week with a fine-toothed flea comb. If she sees flea dirt, she applies a topical product to kill my fleas and prevent an infestation in our home.

Even if your cat lives exclusively indoors, you should be on guard. Fleas can hitch a ride into your home on your trousers and shoes; once inside, they attack us cats. Not only are fleas a nuisance, but they can carry disease.

The alternative to weekly flea combing is to apply one of the products I mentioned above to your kitten’s skin once a month. Your kitten will thank you.


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