Fleas are small external parasites that are common in San Diego County. Cats may or may not show signs of itchiness when they have fleas and if there is a light infestation, they can be difficult to detect.
We disagree with some experts who say that the animal's environment needs to be treated with things like sprays and foggers in order to rid it of fleas.
A flea’s lifespan is about three months and they can't reproduce effectively from feeding on humans. We have found that it is possible to get rid of all fleas in a house or apartment by treating all the cats and dogs for three or four months with something that effectively kills all adult fleas. When this is done, all of the fleas in the environment will either die because they eventually jump onto a treated host or they will die from "old age".
A Cat Flea.
Specific Flea Treatments
Our recommendations for which flea treatments to use depends on individual circumstances, including specific geographic location, cat lifestyle, cat history, and client preferences.
Natural Flea Treatments
As a general rule, we recommend against any flea products that are labeled as "natural". Most contain essential oils (e.g., eucalyptus oil) and regardless of what the labels claim, these can be toxic to cats - both short term and long term. Essential oils may come from nature, but it is not "natural" for cats to be exposed to them. Essential oils can be very toxic to some insects and to cats.
Cats get tapeworms from (grooming themselves and then) ingesting fleas. (They can also get tapeworms from eating rodents.) These are small worms that look like a piece of rice. When tapeworms dry, they look like sesame seeds.
Tapeworms from fleas don't usually cause significant disease, but most people choose to treat for them. The medication we use, epsiprantel, is a prescription drug. In order to dispense it, we need to have examined the cat within the previous year. As long as this is the case, if you see tapeworm segments, you can call us and we can get a prescription ready for you.
The only over-the-counter drug that works to treat tapeworms is praziquantel. We don't carry this but it is readily available.