There’s nothing more devastating than discovering that, despite your best efforts, your cat now has fleas. Sure, you may think that your cat is just going to be itchy, but fleas can transmit a variety of diseases to your cat that can even be fatal.
Today, we’re going explain why cats and fleas don’t mix, the dangers fleas pose to your cat, and the diseases that fleas can transmit to not only your cat, but to you, your family and other animals in the home.
Have you ever noticed how many commercials and advertisements there are for flea and tick prevention products? There are so many advertisements because fleas aren’t just pests that make you itch – they can cause and spread various diseases in cats.
Here’s a look at some diseases that could affect your cat due to flea transmission.
This is a common problem that cats have when they’ve been bitten by fleas. Even though your cat will only experience a minor skin irritation when they’ve been bitten by a flea, some cats may develop an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva.
If a cat has an allergy to the flea’s saliva, then each flea bit is going to cause the cat to experience more irritation than cats without an allergy. Along with significant irritation, your cat will also be itchier and even more temperamental.
Since flea allergy dermatitis is a condition that causes itchiness and irritation, it isn’t uncommon for cats to lose some of their hair due to the constant scratching. The most commonly affected area for hair loss is at the base of the tail, but it your cat will still have some redness and tiny scabs all over their bodies.
The only way to treat this condition is to eliminate the flea infestation and take preventive measures to protect your cat from future bites.
Tapeworms are often associated with fleas and although the parasitic worm isn’t passed from flea to cat via flea transmission, the cat will become infected by swallowing a flea that is carrying the tapeworm larva.
Once the cat swallows the infected flea, the tapeworm larva will continue to grow in the cat’s digestive system.
Then, once the tapeworm is fully developed, the head of the worm will attach itself to the intestinal wall. Then, the segments of the worm (which are filled with eggs) will break away and pass once the cat defecates.
How does the flea get the larva in the first place? By noshing on the infected cat’s feces. Pretty gross, right? Fortunately, tapeworms themselves don’t cause any illnesses, but it’s still recommended to have the tapeworm(s) removed as soon as possible.
Flea bite anemia is a condition that occurs if kittens are infested with fleas. This happens because when a flea bites an animal, they’re sucking blood. So, as you can imagine, when a cat is severely infested with fleas, they’re losing a lot of blood, thus resulting in anemia.
Sadly, some cats aren’t able to survive flea bite anemia, but for the cats that do, it’s only because they’ve been admitted to a veterinary hospital and were treated with blood transfusions and iron supplements.
Hemobartonella is a parasite that affects the blood and is transmitted by fleas. This parasite attaches to your cat’s red blood cells and will eventually destroy the cells.
If a cat doesn’t get treatment, they could experience serious anemia and would require a hospital stay, blood transfusions, and antibiotics.
This disease is a form of typhus that isn’t passed to the cat, but it is passed onto humans. Symptoms of Murine Typhus include a high fever, headaches, chills, aches and pain throughout the body. Some people will get a rash on various parts of the body. These symptoms usually will be felt after 6 to 14 days of being bitten by a flea.
Unfortunately, the only way to determine if you have contracted the disease is by having a blood test done. With that said, thankfully the disease can be treated with the help of antibiotics.
Don’t freak out! The plague that is passed through flea transmission is not the same thing as the plague from history. Even still, this disease can be passed from fleas to cats and humans who live primarily in the southwestern parts of the US.
Cats who have this disease will exhibit signs of weakness, fever, abscesses, and will have difficulty breathing. To treat the disease, a stay in a hospital where you’re given IV fluids and antibiotics may need necessary.
This is of the cat fleas diseases that you’ll certainly want to make sure you eliminate all fleas so that the disease doesn’t spread.
As a cat lover, you want to make sure your kitty is happy and healthy, and even if your cat is exceptionally well groomed, they could still fall victim to fleas and the diseases they carry.
The best way you can ensure your cat doesn’t contract or spread any of these diseases is to take preventive precautions.
This means giving them a veterinary recommended flea medication, using flea collars, and de-flea your home by staying up on the vacuuming and washing any linens, sofa covers, and other fabrics your cat may have come in contact with while having fleas.
Trying to rid your cat and home of fleas can be an arduous task that sometimes may require the help of professional exterminators. Depending on how bad the infestation is, it could set you back a pretty penny. Yet, when it comes to peace of mind in knowing your cat and loved ones are safe from fleas and the diseases they can cause, we think it’s well worth it.
Leave us a comment if you’ve ever had a flea infestation and share your experience with getting rid of them. We want to hear from you!