Without any doubt, as a loving and caring cat owner, you always have the will to do as much as you can to provide your pet with an excellent lifestyle. From the day you start to own a cat, you ensure your maximum time, attention, care, and affection to bring up a healthy, smart and well-trained domestic cat. Over time, cat owners develop a beautiful bond with their pets, and they can never see their little kitty in any bothersome situation.
Unfortunately, no matter how much you take care of your cat, few scenarios can happen anyhow. Let’s say you are super conscious about your cat’s hygiene. But, indeed, you cannot confine your cat to home only. Your cat would need to get exposed to the external environment in the form of evening walks and socializing with other pets. Understandably, such exposures may bring unwanted health concerns.
Cats are vulnerable to catching fleas; not even the domestic ones are safe! However, you must not worry! This article discusses minute details regarding how cats get fleas if they can transmit these to humans, the signs and symptoms of infestation, and what to prevent such unpleasant situations.
What do you mean by cat fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that require host bodies to get their nourishment from. These are very small creatures that are barely visible with naked eyes. Ctenocephalides felis is an insect parasite that affects both mammals and birds. You must know that mammals include humans, cats, dogs, etc. Your cat may catch these fleas from anywhere, and sadly, you cannot control them!
As mentioned above, fleas attach themselves to the external surfaces of an animal’s body and suck blood to obtain nutrition for their survival. When your cat goes out with you for evening walks and interacts with the community’s pets, the chances are that it might get these fleas from any other pet or from playing around in the grass.
What do fleas look like?
As mentioned earlier, fleas are exceptionally minute creatures that are very difficult to visualize. You might be able to see fleas on humans, but the situation gets pretty much impossible when it comes to detecting fleas on cats and dogs. Let’s have a light on the microscopic appearance of Ctenocephalides felis, discussed later!
A cat flea possesses four frontal legs and two hind legs. Besides, the head of a cat flea contains a mouth with suckers that help it suck blood from the unfortunate host. Cat fleas keep transforming their bodies throughout their life cycles. In the larval stage, these fleas possess nearly an invisible body. However, you can visualize them under a microscope, and they will appear as bristles or hair-like structures.
Check out our article where we have explain What do cat fleas look like to the human eye.
Do cat fleas bite humans?
One cannot confine cat fleas to cats only. As mentioned, these parasites tend to get attached to humans as well. However, their favorite habitat is abundant, thick, and strong furs of cats. Understandably, humans are not quite hairy creatures as compared to cats and dogs. The fleas specific to cats can bite humans but not dogs.
Furthermore, since humans cannot provide these cat fleas with their adaptable habitat, these creatures stay on the human body for a while only. Once they have sucked the adequate amount of blood for their survival, they eventually leave. Humans are not among the ones on whom cat fleas can easily breed!
In addition, mostly, cat fleas die quickly while they attempt to attach to human hosts. This usually occurs secondary to the unavailability of many hairs on the human body, which do not let fleas get attached smoothly. However, not being a favorable host to cat fleas does not protect humans from flea bites. Therefore, it would be better to identify if your beloved cat has fleas, so you can treat the condition on time and avoid catching them.
Cat fleas symptoms on humans
An understandable and justified question may arise in your mind: What are the signs and symptoms that cats usually present with after flea bites. We will enlist the major manifestations of flea infestation in cats and humans since most are similar. The overview will help you pick your little kitty’s miserable situation so you can take appropriate measures to eliminate these unpleasant fleas!
The urge to itch
Whenever a cat flea bites your cat, it tends to release multiple toxic substances through saliva. The elements that a flea injects into your cat are not present in its body already; therefore, understandably, your cat’s immune system will react harshly towards it.
You may be familiar with the basic mechanism of a mammal’s immune system; that is, whenever any foreign particle invades the body, the system reacts by making antibodies and releasing chemicals. These chemicals, also called Cytokines, usually bring about inflammatory and allergic reactions in an animal’s body.
The areas on your cat’s body where fleas bite get super itchy secondary to the toxic materials present in the saliva of fleas.
Swelling around bitten areas
Another common reaction of your cat’s immune system to flea bites is swelling around the bitten areas. First, when a flea bites your cat, the skin gets irritated, which results in a variable degree of itching. Secondly, due to the injection of toxic particles and itching, these bitten areas get swollen to a great extent that you can visualize them easily.
It would help if you learned that both itching and swelling are common when it comes to allergic reactions.
Redness on the swollen areas
The sequence of irritation, itch, swelling, and redness on the bitten areas of your cat makes quite a sense! These are all the consequences of allergic reactions that occur secondary to flea bites on your little kitty. Once several fleas have bitten on multiple areas of your cat’s body, there will be irritation which leads to itch, then swelling and redness happen owing to frequent touch and scratch on these areas.
Besides, even if your cat does not scratch out the bitten areas, there will still be redness owing to dilated blood vessels beneath the skin. You may know that whenever inflammatory reactions occur in the bodies of animals, the blood vessels supplying to the involved area get dilated to provide the area with more blood to fight the condition.
Infected bitten areas
Understandably, the flea-bitten areas on your cat’s body would produce an urge to scratch. An itch that leads to scratching always ends up with some secondary infection. The areas that your cat scratches repeatedly result in the formation of a wound, which tends to get infected.
After flea bites, both cats and humans get irritated easily due to discomfort produced by itching, redness, swelling, and scratching. Besides, if wound infections also occur, the condition worsens, and both cats and humans suffer from severe disturbing mood swings.
How to prevent flea infestations in both cats and humans?
People who own cats are more prone to catching fleas than those who don’t pet animals. Understandably you cannot make your little kitty sit at home for its whole life to prevent flea infestation. Making your cat confined to home only is pretty much unrealistic. Besides, if it is not your cat that has caught the fleas, it might be you who has got these parasites from neighbor’s cats.
Therefore, keeping yourself and your cat stay at home all the time is not a reasonable and practical solution. Let’s have a light on the tried and tested solutions to eliminate a flea infestation in cats;
- There are different approaches to help your cat eliminate fleas from its body. One of the widely used tactics is to treat your cat with products that captivate the attention of fleas. Once these fleas get attached to your cat’s furry body, you can use flea-specific sprays on your cat to kill these bothering creatures.
In addition, the adult fleas may be present only on the host, but their eggs and larvae may get shed and stay on rugs, carpets, etc. Therefore, some people may want to use pesticides in areas of the house infested by cat fleas which proves helpful.
- Regular bed washing may help you get rid of the fleas. You can use vacuums to clean all the carpets and rugs in your house perfectly. Besides, for other infested parts at your place, you can use products that help kill fleas.
- Furthermore, there are anti-flea collars that come for both cats and dogs. However, you must be careful when buying such anti-flea collars as they may contain certain chemicals toxic to your pet.
- Above all, if you are pretty much certain that your cat has caught fleas, it would be best to visit a professional vet as soon as possible. They will prescribe the best topical medications for your cat and also guide you regarding follow-up.
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Undeniably, seeing your cat struggle through a miserable condition is painful due to your affection towards it. When cats catch fleas, the situation gets problematic for them, and their owners suffer. In addition, a cat that has caught fleas can transmit them to both animals and humans.
In this article, we have tried our best to discuss cat fleas, if they can live on human bodies, their recognition of cats, signs and symptoms of infestation, and what you can do to get rid of them. Hopefully, it will prove helpful!