what do fleas look like on cats

What Do Fleas Look Like on Cats? Symptoms Reveal the Problem

If you suspect fleas are disturbing your sweet kitty’s peaceful life, let’s find out how to identify them. So what do fleas look like on cats anyway? First off, it’s a safe assumption that your cat may be scratching too much and you’re worried.

You should know that scratching alone is not the only sign for fleas. There are eight other symptoms that help pinpoint a possible flea problem but we’ll get into that soon.

Fleas are pests that survive on the blood of their hosts. They are primarily found in cat’s fur and cause itchiness as the fleas bite their skin to feed. Just one bite is enough to set off severe scratching if the cat is allergic to fleas.

It’s not only the full grown fleas you have to worry about. Each flea can produce another twenty-seven offspring on average so, it’s best to catch the issues early. Their eggs and larvae are nearly impossible to see with the naked eye which is why you need to rely on the symptoms and not solely your vision to be certain.

If you’ve ever dealt with fleas, you already know how much of a pain they are. You shouldn’t let your kitty suffer anymore. Before they become a major problem, look for the following signs of fleas on cats and get rid of them before they make your cat’s life miserable!

cat has fleas

1. Constant Scratching and Chewing

Fleas bite their host’s skin to feed on their blood. The bites don’t go unnoticed by cats, as their skin grows dry and itchy. If you notice your cat continuously scratching or biting its fur, fleas are most likely the culprit. When you’re looking for obvious signs of fleas on cats, this is generally the most common one that is evident.

Your cat may suddenly start to chew or scratch their skin frantically. In mild cases, the scratching may not look troublesome but, it can possibly lead to severe hair loss in some cases. Therefore, keep an eye on your cat for any escalation in their scratching or biting.

this cat has fleas

2. Excessive Grooming and Hair Loss

Cats do not need their human’s permission to groom themselves. They find a nice, comfortable spot and start licking until they’re satisfied. While cats are meticulous groomers, fleas can cause excessive grooming. As a cat lover, you should keep track of your cat’s behavior, so if their grooming becomes extreme, you will know when something is wrong.

If your cat has fleas making its life miserable, it will groom itself to the point where you can easily notice bald patches on its skin. This normally happens near the base of the tail, neck area, and on the back of their legs.

signs of fleas on cats

3. Anxiety or Restlessness

Have you ever had that itch on your back that drives you crazy or a toothache that keeps you awake at night? You would do whatever it takes for relief! It doesn’t just irritate you, it causes anxiety and restlessness to the point that you can’t focus on anything else. Now you have an understanding of what fleas are doing to your poor little furball.

So, you know your kitty has fleas. What do fleas look like on cats? We’ll answer that question in just a bit. For now, you need to know that fleas can actually become dangerous for cats. Some kittens that develop a severe flea infestation could die because of complications if not treated properly.

One other thing to worry about, if your cat ingests any fleas, there is a risk for tapeworms. These parasites range from a half inch long to as much as twelve inches in length and are usually identified on the cat’s anus or in their feces. This problem is easily remedied by a vet visit.

what do fleas look like on cats to the eye

4. Red Skin Lesions or Raised Bumps

It may not appear on all cats, but some cats do show signs of red skin lesions or inflamed skin bumps. The flea saliva is the irritant which causes these problems. The lesions typically appear on the back or neck regions of cats.

If it does get to the point where your cat is growling a lot, shaking their head, or scratching so incessantly that it breaks open the skin, leading to oozing and bleeding, you should consult a veterinarian right away to prescribe the proper course of action.

more signs of fleas on cats

5. Signs of Anemia

In extreme cases when your cat has fleas, it may begin to show signs of lethargy, pale gums, or even muscle loss. This ordinarily indicates a low red blood cell count. Basically the fleas have become so prevalent that they’re draining enough blood to cause anemia. 

The flea issue rarely goes this far, however, if it does, then you need to immediately take your kitty to the vet for an examination and evaluation!

flea dirt on cats

6. Flea Dirt

More common signs of fleas on cats would be known as flea dirt. Essentially this is dried blood in the form of flea feces which look like tiny dark brown specks. They can normally be found around the neck and base of the tail. If you use a flea comb or brush to check for the pepper-like specks, they are normally found near the skin in your cat’s fur.

7. Blood Stains on Cat Bedding

Some cats may keep scratching themselves, but it goes unnoticed because it’s not an unnatural behavior for them. However, other signs can indicate the presence of fleas. One of those signs is the red spots on your cat’s bedding. If you think your cat may have fleas, you can check their bedding to look for flea dirt or tiny stains.

The spots will appear red only when moisture is on the bedding, or your cat’s warm body rubs against it. If you notice such red marks, inspect your cat’s fur for fleas or take it to your veterinarian for a examination.

8. Identifying Fleas

Finally, we will answer your question… “What do fleas look like on cats?”. This is the most prominent sign. Fleas are wingless crawlers appearing in a black or reddish-brown color. They crawl on cat’s fur, bite their skin to feed, and cause them to scratch relentlessly.

In case the infestation has surpassed your cat’s bearable limit, you may likely see these tiny pests crawling on your skin. In severe cases, you might also notice the flea eggs along with the adults. If you happen see fleas darting and hopping around on your cat’s fur, simply use a flea comb and part the fur in multiple places to look for other signs on the skin.

avoiding parts of the house

9. Avoiding Parts of the House

One of the signs of fleas on cats is when your pet starts to avoid certain areas in your home. When the environment becomes warm and humid, fleas are in the prime of their blood-sucking life. While they typically hang out in carpets and on furniture, you will ordinarily not find them on tile or hardwood flooring.

If you happen to see your cat avoiding the warmer parts of your home, you should look for signs of fleas in those areas. Cats will also avoid the previously mentioned carpeted areas and most furniture if fleas are living on them.

How to Treat Fleas on Cats

Now that we’ve answered the question, what do fleas look like on cats, it’s time to learn how to end your pet’s misery once and for all! There are many treatments for a flea infestation, but not all of them would suit your cat. That’s why it’s beneficial to get an expert’s opinion before trying anything new.

A veterinarian will be your best friend in this situation, so feel free to consult them until the war against fleas is over. If you try something without their opinion, it may end up causing problems, especially if the treatment is worse than the fleas! Save yourself any unnecessary issues by giving your cat the best flea treatment.

Another important thought as a cat lover is to ensure your house is always free of fleas by vacuuming the floors and furniture. You can’t keep the tiny bugs out of your house forever, but cleaning it regularly will help ensure no eggs or larvae linger in the home ready to attack your cat when they hatch.

Ask your veterinarian to recommend the best flea treatment for your home. This should reassure you that no future infestations will cause your cat any more misery.

Final Thoughts

Fleas can be your cat’s worst enemy, so you should always stay on top of this problem. Even if there are no visible signs of fleas on cats, these little pests can be hiding in every corner of your home. Make sure you protect your cat by continuously cleaning your home thoroughly.

If your beloved kitty happens to get fleas, you can ask a veterinarian to prescribe the best treatment to relieve their discomfort. After all, a grooming session should be comfortable and relaxing, not a frantic scratching frenzy!

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