Hello, I am currently catsitting for a friend. She dropped the cat off at my home, and about a week later, I noticed flea dirt on the cat, and then saw fleas. I applied Frontline the next day to the cat and began a regimen of vacuuming every other day and washing everything I own every couple of days (including curtains, bed linens, clothes, pillows, etc). I gave the cat a bath a few days ago and have been using a flea comb. (Her owner thinks she may have picked them up at the temporary apartment she was living in).
The cat is leaving today. What do I need to do to ensure I get rid of all flea eggs once she’s gone? I’ve read that I can sprinkle Borax in the carpet and vacuum it up a day later, but also that it only kills adult fleas. I’d rather not flea bomb or use a lot of chemicals. I only ever saw fleas on the cat, and caught a total of about 10 and killed them, so I’m hoping it wasn’t a bad infestation.
I don’t have any pets, nor do I plan on getting any, but I just want to ensure that I don’t somehow carry fleas to someone else’s home and infest their pets (I’m dog sitting for a friend in about a month and a half, and I’ll go stay at her house). I plan on continuing the vacuuming every few days for awhile and I’ll wash everything again. I put most of my curtains, pillows, blankets in plastic bags.
Also, do I need to wash every item of clothing in my closet, as the cat hung out there the first week or so? I’ve kept her out of there the past few days, and have vacuumed very thoroughly several times in there.
I am exhausted and tired of vacuuming and laundry. This is far more than I ever bargained for when offering to pet sit. No good deed goes unpunished! 🙂
Thanks so much for your advice!
You shouldn’t need to wash any of the items you’ve mentioned unless the cat rested/slept on them. Fleas lay their eggs on the host animal, but they aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours. The eggs get deposited where the animal roams, and most end up concentrated in resting areas. If the cat didn’t rest on the items, then there shouldn’t be fleas there. Most will fall on the ground (carpets, rugs, etc).
The borax will also kill the larvae it contacts. However, environmental treatments aren’t particularly effective, because larvae move deep into carpet fibers and other refuges upon hatching. Sprays, powders, vacuuming, and other treatments have a hard time reaching them at the depth of carpets.
The most effective environmental control agent is insect growth regulators (IGR). This is because they remain active for 7 months, not because they solve the problem immediately. IGR exposed eggs and larvae can’t mature into adults. So new eggs falling onto the carpet can’t develop.
In your situation, chemicals probably aren’t necessary. Since you don’t have pets of your own, you shouldn’t need to do much more than vacuum more frequently than usual (2-3 times a week). The fleas won’t be able to survive and reproduce on human blood. The current generation developing in the environment should be the last. All the fleas should be gone in around 8 weeks, but you may see them here and there until then, and may get bitten.
Transferring the fleas to another home shouldn’t be much of a concern. Fleas rarely spread this way. Most infestations spread when an infested animal drops eggs into another animal’s habitat. However, if you allowed a pet into your home, then they would have a high risk of becoming infested.
Thanks so much for your quick answer. Your website has been incredibly helpful, as I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before.
The cat has been gone a few days, and I vacuumed extremely thoroughly (carpet and couch/chairs) and washed all my bedding and pillows again. I’ll keep up vacuuming 2-3 times a week. I haven’t noticed any more bites in over a week, but I won’t panic if I see a few 🙂
Thanks again! I never thought I’d ever know so much about the life cycle and mating habits of fleas, but I’ll save that up for a trivia night!