Cat scratching

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Sylvia asked 1 year ago

Hi Adam, great site! I posted on here a few months ago with a flea problem in a house I just moved into. I believe we sucessfully rid our house of fleas at that time, in part, thanks to all the great info on your site.
Since then, I adopted a cat a little over a month ago from the humane society. My boyfriend bought the cat to visit family over the holidays, including to an uncle’s house with two outdoor cats. I noticed that my cat was scratching more than usual so I decided to put Advantage on him a few days after we got home just to be safe. I have not seen a live or dead flea and have (somewhat obsessively) performed the wet white paper towel test on any flecks I find when I inspect the floor, but have not found any flea dirt either. I may have gotten a couple small flea bites on my hand and face (although the ones on my face could just be pimples – he likes to headbunt me so I was not sure if the fleas could have bitten me during those times) that I noticed after I put on the Advantage.
I noticed my cat is scratching less but he still occasionally scratches his chin/cheeks. I have read dozens of articles on how scratching can indicate fleas, but how much scratching is normal?
Also, I was guessing that perhaps, if it was fleas, then it may be newly emerged adults. Do you think the Advantage is still working if the fleas are still able to bite him (I just put it on him a week ago from tomorrow). Is it worth it to reapply? Would the Advantage be working on the skin on his face?
I have also been vacuuming rugs, cracks in the hardwood, and the couch everyday (I don’t let him into the bedrooms). I will also be spraying Precor today since i just received it in the mail.

1 Answers
Adam Retzer Staff answered 1 year ago

Hey Sylvia,

I’m happy to hear you’ve resolved your previous flea problem.

From what you’ve described, it doesn’t sound like your cat has fleas. If there was an active infestation, you should be able to find fleas or their feces on the cat.

Excessive scratching can indicate that there are fleas. However, scratching is also just a normal part of cat grooming behavior. I’m not sure what’s considered a “normal” amount of scratching, as it’ll differ between individual cats.

There’s still a slight chance your cat is facing infestation pressure. There may be pre-emerged adults emerging from your previous infestation. But with your cat treated with Advantage, any potential fleas won’t be able to survive or reproduce. The treatment will kill most fleas within a few hours, but sometimes it can take up to 24 hours to kill them all. So, fleas may have time to bite, but not lay eggs.

The treatment will protect his head and face. Advantage doesn’t penetrate the skin, but incorporates in the skin’s sebaceous (oil) layer. As a result, the animal’s natural oils distribute the treatment over the entire body and hair within 24 hours of application.

As a preventative measure, some pet-owners keep their animals on monthly treatments year-round, or for peak flea season. This is most common in the southern US, where fleas can be a problem year-round with the warm climate. It’s up to you if you want to continue the monthly treatments.

Spraying the Precor will also be helpful as a preventative measure. The IGR in the environment will prevent any new eggs from developing for 7 months.

The bites or skin reactions you mention probably aren’t from fleas. Once fleas are on a dog or cat, they have no interest in leaving (or biting you). They have everything they want and need with the pet. Typically, bites on humans occur when new fleas are emerging from cocoons, before they find a primary host.

Hope this was helpful!