cat with fleas on bed

Getting rid of fleas on cats: a guide to cat fleas

A flea infestation can be a true nightmare, but fleas are easy enough to prevent. 

There’s a wide range of options available to help you avoid fleas, and to tackle them if you do suffer an infestation. 

Let's take a closer look at cat fleas: how to spot them, why it's important to keep your cat protected and how to do so. 

Symptoms: what do fleas look like on cats?

Fleas are the most common cause of skin irritation in cats and kittens. They’re nasty creatures that nestle into your cat’s fur, bite into their skin and feed on their blood. 

Your cat may have fleas without you ever actually seeing a single flea. But you'll be able to spot them by watching out for the following symptoms:

  • Scratching
  • Chewing at their fur
  • Hair loss
  • Restless behaviour
  • Biting
  • Licking
  • Sores on the skin
  • Fleas or flea dirt on the fur or skin
  • Excessive grooming

Other problems caused by fleas

Once a flea’s saliva enters the bite wound, your cat may suffer a mild allergic reaction. Some cats develop sores on their skin, which often become infected.

Some cats are hypersensitive to flea saliva, and become intensely itchy. Old or sick cats can become weak and anaemic as a result of blood loss.

Fleas can also spread nasty diseases and are a common cause of tapeworms, which enter the cat while they're grooming.

These flea-bourne complications are rare, but it's always best to be on the safe side and to keep your cat protected from fleas all year round.

white cat looking down

Gruesome facts about fleas

Fleas like hot, damp environments and are most often found in our homes during the winter, when the central heating is on.

They can jump up to 100 times their body length, and often hop from one cat to another. If one cat in your home gets fleas, you can bet the other will too.

Female fleas lay up to 50 eggs a day, so infestations are quick to take hold. They won't just affect your pet either, you'll need to de-flea your entire house to successfully remove an infestation.

How to keep my cat protected?

Your vet will happily advise on the most effective method for your cat.

Treatments include flea collars, spot-on solutions, tablets and vaccinations.

It's too late. My cat has fleas! How to treat fleas on cats?

Contact your vet as soon as you can, they'll be able to advise on the best methods of getting rid of fleas on your cat. You'll also need to treat your entire house to make sure the flea infestation is properly removed - otherwise they'll keep revisiting your poor kitty.

Need more info?

For advice on flea prevention and treatment for cats, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.