Hi there from Ireland.
I’ve been lucky so far I guess – a 16 year old cat and no fleas ….until about 2 weeks ago! I noticed my cat scratching and could feel a gritty substance near his skin. On inspection I realized the worst! I have also been bitten a lot around the ankles and worst still I found a live flea on the skin of my shoulder today while sitting at the kitchen table! I really am at my wits end and I’m happy to pay exterminators to come to my home and sort this out but I want to ensure I’m properly prepared and have done everything I need to do beforehand to ensure a successful outcome so I would really appreciate your expertise!
So far, I have treated my cat a week ago with Bravecto which is from the vets and is a vial put on the back of his neck. It lasts for 3 months. The cat has free access around my home and he goes outdoors sometimes (where he will meet other cats who probably have fleas)
I have treated the living room and dining room with Permoguard (made by Norbrook) which contains permethrin, s-methoprene and ethanol. I ran out of spray after these rooms so the rest of the house is undone at the moment.
One of the issues I see (maybe I’m wrong) is that I have so much stuff in my home that I wonder how I can get at every area successfully with the vacuum? I have so many clothes, books, a home office full of paper and I just don’t know where to begin.
Should I be doing anything else with my cat to reduce the chances of more fleas coming in? Should I keep him indoors all the time for now?
Do I need to isolate a certain amount of clothes to wear during the cycle of getting rid of the fleas?
Should I get rid of as many books/magazines/paperwork as possible?
Should I get rid of anything that shows signs of flea poo?
The exterminators in Ireland are expensive (I’ve been quoted €500) and they say they need to come 3 times with a gap of 7 to 10 days in between – what do you think?
Any advice you can give me would be very much appreciated. I live on my own and this problem is beginning to make my nuts!
Thank you very much.
If your cat is properly treated with medication, then you shouldn’t need to do anything further with him or quarantine him. Only adult fleas live on the host, and they only make up 1-5% of the infestation. The treatment will kill the fleas that jump on him before they can reproduce.
The primary thing you have to contend with now are the immature stages developing in your home, which account for 95-99% of the infestation. These stages need to mature, emerge, and then die for the infestation to end. This usually takes around 8 weeks. The good news is it’s the last generation of fleas that will exist in your home.
The Permaguard is useful for control and prevention, but will have a limited effect on the fleas already in the environment. It’s difficult for sprays to penetrate into the refuges where fleas live (e.g. deep within carpets). The insect growth regulator, methoprene, in the spray will stay active for 7 months though. It will stop any new eggs from being able to develop.
You shouldn’t need to be concerned about clothes, books, magazines, etc. Fleas aren’t attracted to these things. Fleas lay the eggs on their host. The eggs aren’t sticky and fall within a few hours. They hatch into larvae and develop where the eggs fall. There may be fleas developing around these items you mentioned, but only if the cat spent time there. Hot-spots will be where the cat rested and groomed.
If you can’t get to every area with the vacuum, at least try to get to the areas where you know the cat likes to visit. Vacuuming is one of the best ways to speed up the eradication process.
Flea poop, like eggs, is deposited on the host and gets dislodged when the animal grooms itself. If you find flea poop on items, it just means the cat spent time there. It can be a good indication of where to focus with environmental treatments and vacuuming though.
You shouldn’t need to hire an exterminator. They will apply similar to chemicals to those you already applied with the Permaguard. The insect growth regulator is the most important ingredient. The adulticide is only marginally useful, because it has a short-lived residual effect and adults make up such a small portion of fleas. The adults will die on their own once they emerge from their cocoons, either by jumping on the treated cat, vacuum removal, or starvation.