Fleas are pests in every sense. They’re itchy, gross and prolific if not dealt with properly. It’s a good thing your cats don’t have fleas … or do they? How can you tell if your cat has fleas? What do fleas look like in cats?
If you spend time with your cats regularly, you’ll know what’s normal—and what’s not. Many flea-infested cats show both physical and behavioral changes that indicate something is wrong. So does your cat have fleas? Here are 10 classic signs of fleas in cats.
1 Intense and Frantic Scratching or Biting
Flea bites can cause a cat’s skin to feel very itchy. One of the signs of fleas on cats is if your cat suddenly starts scratching their body with their paws or chewing their skin in an attempt to stop the itchy sensation.
To give them some temporary relief, use cat flea and tick shampoo, like Veterinary Formula Clinical Care’s flea and tick shampoo. See best-selling flea and tick treatments for cats here.
2 Excessive Grooming and Hair Loss
3 Avoiding Certain Parts of Your Home
Fleas flourish in a warm environment and hide in carpet and furniture. (Note that while hard surface flooring is not an ideal environment for fleas, they can still be found in the cracks and crevices of wood and tile flooring.) If your cat starts avoiding carpeted areas of your home, consider that a red flag. They’re steering clear of the fleas!
The first rule in controlling fleas (aside from treating your pet, of course) is to keep a clean house, so thoroughly vacuum your floors and furniture including under the cushions on a regular basis. You can also try a natural remedy like diatomaceous earth for your carpets and throw rugs.
Wash your cat’s bedding regularly in the washing machine. You can also spritz your cat’s bedding and furnishings with a flea spray for the home.
4 Agitation, Edginess and Restlessness
5 Red Skin Lesions or Scab-like Bumps
6 Muscle Loss, Pale Gums and Lethargy
7 Tiny Pepper-Like Specks on Your Cat’s Fur
Another sign of fleas on cats is “flea dirt.” These dark brown specks are actually flea feces. They’re most often seen on the neck and rump areas, but you also may see some of these specks on your cat’s comb or brush.
If you put some of these granules on a paper towel and mist them with water, they will turn red. That’s because the feces are composed of digested blood.
8 Red Spots in Your Cat’s Bedding Fabric
9 Rice Grains on Your Cat’s Bedding or Around Their Anus
10 Pinhead-Sized Black or Reddish Brown Insects Crawling on Your Cat’s Fur
If you’re wondering how to tell if your cat has fleas, this is probably the most obvious indicator. Those tiny black or reddish-brown insects on your cat’s fur are the fleas themselves. If there’s a heavy infestation, there’s a good chance you’ll see fleas and flea eggs on your cat or their bedding.
Part your pet’s fur in several places to see his skin. Fleas gravitate to the neck, lower back, back of hind legs and the base of the tail.
Even if you don’t see any fleas or flea symptoms in cats, don’t assume there are none in your home. Fleas go through four stages in their life cycle—egg, larva, pupa and adult. Even if you see no adult fleas on your cat’s body, there still could be fleas in the three other developmental life stages in your furniture, carpet or baseboards, just days or weeks away from turning into adults and invading your cat. That’s why it’s important to always be tuned in to the signs of flea infestation. Today, your cat may be flea-free. Tomorrow, they might not be.
Find out how to pick the best flea prevention or treatment for your cat here.
Signs of Fleas in Cats FAQs
Are fleas in cats visible to the human eye?
What is the difference between signs of fleas and ticks in cats?
Where on the cat's body can you spot fleas?