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What to do when you have a flea infestation

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When you discover a flea infestation on your cat, focus on 3 main ways to eliminate the parasites for good.
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Cat watching owner vacuum and clean the couch

Once they’ve arrived, fleas are a constant source of irritation for your cat – but they can cause a much bigger problem for you, your family and your home.

If you see multiple fleas on your pet – or fleas on your furniture or carpet – you likely have an infestation.

Getting rid of a flea infestation

To get rid of a flea infestation, you need a solid plan of attack, some hard work and swift action. It won’t be easy, but by focusing on the following three steps, you can eliminate fleas in a couple of weeks.

1. Treat your pet

The importance of regular flea treatment cannot be understated. However, it can be easy to forget treatment, especially in cooler months. If you discover fleas on your cat, immediately use an effective treatment like Advantage®, Advocate® or Seresto® to kill the adult fleas. Take a note of when you apply the product, and check the product label for how frequently you need to apply the product. Continue flea treatment all year round and treat all other pets in the household.

It is important to realise that no flea product repels fleas, so newly hatching fleas from your cat’s environment will continue to arrive on your pet. However, when using Advantage, Advocate or Seresto, fleas are killed on contact so they don’t need to bite your cat to die.

2. Treat your home

The fleas you see on your pet account for only 5 percent of the flea population – the other 95% are hiding in your pet’s environment, your home.

After treating your pet, it’s time to address the flea eggs, larvae and pupae lingering in your carpets or behind your skirting boards. Use this step-by-step process:

1. Wash your pet’s bedding – use a hot soapy setting, and put the bedding outside in the direct sunlight to dry.

2. Wash all other bedding, cushion covers, blankets and throws, and other fabric your pet may have come in contact with.

3. Vacuum your carpet and floors every other day for three to eight weeks, paying special attention to skirting boards, corners and behind beds. Empty the vacuum bag into a rubbish bag after every use, preferably outdoors.

4. Use a flea bomb or flea spray throughout the house, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Flea pupae, the stage just before hatching, are notoriously hard to kill. Vacuum before using chemicals to stimulate the pupae to hatch so the adult fleas are exposed to, and killed by, the chemicals.

Get more details on this process in our comprehensive guide to removing fleas from your home.

3. Treat your backyard

While fleas can enter your home by hitching a ride on your clothing or the fur of a visiting pet, it’s far more likely that your cat has picked up fleas from your own backyard – animals passing through can leave behind flea eggs which eventually produce fleas in your backyard.

While you are addressing the indoor infestation, turn your attention outside, too. Treat your backyard with an outdoor flea spray, focusing on areas where fleas like to hide: warm, shady and moist spots are a good place to start – especially under the house. Additionally, it’s smart to keep your grass mown and overgrowth to a minimum.

Prevention is the best treatment 

To get rid of fleas for good, treat all dogs, cats, rabbits or ferrets regularly with a product that can kill fleas before they bite.

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