Fleas are one of the most annoying parasites pet owners can encounter in their home. However, as a pet owner, it seems you can’t avoid fleas. But how do cats get fleas if they don’t go outside? How do indoor cats get fleas?
Fleas can be introduced by any person or object that enters the home from outside and then settle on indoor cats. They will remain in the home and breed as long as there is a cat or pet that is warm enough to serve as a host and favor the flea life cycle.
Even if you find fleas have made their way into your home and onto your cat, there is no need to panic. You can easily eliminate these pests with a bit of patience.
This article discusses how indoor cats can get fleas despite never going outside. We also explain how you can tell if your cat has fleas.
Finally, we discuss whether indoor cats need flea treatment. We reveal how to get rid of fleas on your cat and whether you need to clean the whole house after a flea infestation.
How Do Indoor Cats Get Fleas if They Don’t Go Outside?
Many cat owners are familiar with the problem: their indoor cat, who has never spent a second outside the house or around other animals, suddenly has fleas and a coat soiled with flea droppings.
You might ask yourself how it is possible for indoor cats to get fleas if they never go outside.
The problem is that fleas can get into your home by attaching themselves to you, your guests, or even objects brought into your home.
However, fleas do not usually stay on people for long periods. This is because humans do not have a warm body temperature or much fur.
Fleas need this warmth and the furry environment of an animal to survive. Cats provide both in abundance.
So, although fleas need fur to hide in and a body temperature of at least 101 °F (38 °C), they can survive on humans long enough to get into the home from outside and onto the cat.
Fleas need an animal host to stay alive long enough to lay their eggs. However, they can live for up to two weeks without a host.
This gives them quite a long period of time to find an animal to attach to before they die. Without such a host, fleas cannot reproduce.
Even if your home is locked tight and your cat never goes outdoors, fleas can still infest it. All it takes is one female flea finding a suitable host to cause a flea infestation in your home.
Fortunately, fleas live their entire life cycle on a single host. They simply come, feed by biting your poor kitty, lay eggs, and leave.
However, these eggs pupate, and new fleas hatch. These fleas then spend their lives on the same cat. This goes on and on if the fleas are not adequately controlled.
How Can You Tell if Indoor Cats Have Fleas?
Fleas can occur in even the most sheltered of indoor cats. You can watch for specific indicators to determine if your indoor cat has fleas.
If your cat scratches frequently, has irritated skin, or sheds fur, fleas could be the reason. And even if it is cleaning itself much more extensively than usual, it could be due to fleas.
If your cat constantly tries to groom himself or exhibits lethargy behavior, it would be best to consider the possibility that your cat may have fleas.
Even if you don’t see fleas, you may find spots on or around your cat that look like dirt. This flea feces is evidence of an infestation.
If you want to be absolutely sure, you can also buy a flea comb. Such a flea comb is finely toothed and specially designed to catch fleas when brushing your cat’s fur.
This is not a sure way to get rid of all fleas, but it is a good way to determine if your cat is infested with fleas.
Do Indoor Cats Need Flea Treatment?
If your cat spends its entire life indoors, you may want to avoid treating it for fleas. After all, treatments can be expensive, and you may want to save yourself the trouble.
However, it’s essential to know that indoor cats also need flea treatment.
As mentioned earlier, fleas can survive for two weeks without a host. So you have plenty of time to find someone to bring them into your home.
If they succeed, your cat is an easy target for the fleas. However, flea treatment interrupts the flea life cycle. So, your flea problem can be over before it has even started.
Now, let’s take a closer look at how to treat indoor cats for fleas.
How to Treat Indoor Cats for Fleas
It’s difficult to know where to start when trying to control a flea infestation or simply taking preventative measures.
There are different flea treatments and preventatives, and you can find countless products for both.
Below is the safest way to proceed if you suspect a flea infestation in your cat.
- Consult a vet: It is best to consult an expert. A vet can already help you to check your cat for signs of fleas. They can also give you the best advice on which product to use in the fight against fleas.
- Get the flea product: If your vet has recommended or prescribed a product, you should use it. Many products must be applied once a month to kill the female flea before she can lay eggs.
- Continue treatment for three months: the first round of treatment will kill the adult fleas. However, please remember that flea eggs may already have been laid. For this reason, most vets recommend continuing flea treatment for three months to kill any fleas that settle on your cat.
- Treat all pets: While you might think that your cat is the only animal with fleas, you should treat all animals in your household for the entire three-month period. This is because even if the fleas only appear on one cat, they will try to find shelter on other pets and wait for treatment.
Do I Need to Clean My House if My Cat Has Fleas?
The only way to truly get rid of a flea infestation is to apply flea medication for three months to your cat and all other animals in your home.
Fleas need a host to complete their entire life cycle. However, most medications only work on one aspect of the flea’s life. They target either the adult, the pupa, or the egg.
A single flea treatment can wipe out one generation but not the next. Therefore, it takes some patience to be really sure.
However, it is not necessary to clean your entire house or spray it with flea treatment because fleas that don’t find a suitable host will simply leave your house or die.
If you treat your cats with vet-recommended flea treatment for three full months, they will not be available as a host. And if you treat all other pets as well, the flea will not find a host.
Conclusion: How Can Indoor Cats Get Fleas?
Even if your cat never leaves the apartment or house, it can still get fleas. This is because fleas can be brought in by humans, other animals, or even on objects.
Fleas survive long enough to get into your home and choose your cat as a host. They then multiply intensively there.
The best way to protect your cat is to give it regular flea prevention. This will prevent the problem from developing in the first place.
However, if it does become infested with fleas, it is crucial to treat it with a suitable flea product for three months. All other pets in the household must also be treated so the fleas cannot escape.
Flea treatment takes quite a while, as the fleas may have already laid eggs. Even if the flea treatment kills the current generation, the next generation will soon arrive with the eggs.
You can only interrupt this process with a bit of patience and perseverance.