“Help! I Think My Indoor Cat Has Fleas—Is That Possible?”

The title of this blog post is an actual text message that a friend of PetWellClinic® received from one of her coworkers. This coworker had noticed that her family’s cat had been itching and licking herself much more than usual, but she figured it was dry skin. But then she noticed dark brown specks on the cat’s neck and also thought she saw a flea on the cat’s head, but she couldn’t be sure.

“But my cat is an indoor cat and never goes outside,” she said, “It’s not possible for her to get fleas, is it?”

Unfortunately, yes it is, and in fact it’s quite common for indoor cats to get fleas. Incessant licking and scratching are key clues, as are the brown specks this cat owner saw. Known as  “flea dirt,” these specks are actually the feces of the flea. You can verify that they’re flea dirt by putting them on a paper towel and then misting them with water to see if they turn red. If they do, it’s evidence of fleas because the flea feces are composed of digested blood.

So, how is it possible for indoor cats to get fleas? Here are the 5 most common ways:

  • Another pet that lives in or visits the home. Even if a dog is treated with a flea prevention product, some over-the-counter products take some time to kill the parasites. This gives fleas enough time to enter the home and either hop on the cat or lay eggs in carpeting or furniture.
  • On people’s clothes or shoes. Although fleas can’t fly, they can jump quite far and they’re adept at seeking out warm, living hosts—and the more fur to hide in, the better. Fleas can easily hitchhike in a person’s pant legs or shoes and find their way quickly to your cat.
  • Rodents. While mice aren’t likely to survive long in a house with a healthy cat, they’ll probably live long enough to bring fleas into the home. They can drop flea eggs which then hatch and hop on the cat.
  • Visits outside the home. If your cat ever stays with pet sitters or is boarded while you’re gone, or goes to the groomer, she or he is at risk for picking up fleas.
  • Moving to a new home. Fleas go through many stages and can be dormant for months until the environment, or host, is right. The previous homeowners may have had a pet that had fleas. And if you live in an apartment—even a complex that doesn’t allow pets—the communal hall carpeting may be a breeding ground for fleas which, as discussed above, can enter your apartment on your shoes or pant legs. 
  • Infested items brought into the home. If you ever buy furniture, rugs, luggage or bedding from Craigslist or second hand stores, know that fleas can come into your home on those items. They may not be visible or may be dormant, so always thoroughly clean the items before bringing them into your home.

The good news is that you can keep your indoor cat free of fleas by keeping him or her on a veterinarian-prescribed flea preventative product. As we discussed in 3 Facts These Vet Techs Really Want You To Know About Fleas, over-the-counter products often don’t work so it’s important to use a veterinarian-prescribed product. If you live in East Tennessee it’s also necessary to use the product year-round because the region’s winter temperatures don’t stay low for a long enough period to kill of all flea activity.

PetWellClinic® can help you figure out which flea prevention product is best for your cat and your budget. We also offer low-cost kitten and cat packages that include the necessary vaccinations your cat needs for a healthy, long life.

By operating convenient hours for non-surgical care, PetWellClinic® is able to offer substantially discounted prices for vaccinations, safe and effective flea and tick preventative products, wellness exams, and treatment of minor conditions—with quick in-and-out service during convenient evening and weekend hours with no appointment necessary.

PetWellClinic® has three locations: 10549 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922; 7329 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919; and 228 S. Calderwood Street, Alcoa, TN 37701. Learn more about how PetWellClinic® can exceed your expectations for top quality, affordable pet care by visiting our website at www.petwellclinic.com.


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