Health & care

How to tell if your cat has fleas

Date updated: 07 05 2019

Cats can get fleas fairly easily – even if they never venture outdoors - and this can be very uncomfortable for your poor pet. Fleas can also infect your cat with other parasites, and if left untreated, can make your cat develop allergies and other problems. Oh, and they also bite humans!

Nobody wants an itchy or poorly kitty, so it’s good to check your cat’s skin regularly. And remember, you’re not just looking for signs a cat has fleas. Cats can also contract other parasites, like ticks and mites, and develop skin conditions that need attention.

The next time you’re chilling with your little whiskered wonder, follow the steps below to give it a quick check - in between cuddles of course!

A simple routine for checking your cat’s skin

1. Use a flea comb on your cat’s fur

Give your cat’s fur a gentle run-through with a flea comb, and see if you catch any fleas or parasites. As well as insects, you’re also on the lookout for speckled black dirt. While cats do pick up harmless debris in their jaunts outside, this dirt is one of the signs a cat has fleas.

To test whether it came from fleas, place the dirt onto a wet paper towel. If it’s flea dirt, a red ring will form around the specks – what you are seeing is digested blood that the fleas leave behind.

2. Look at the skin underneath your cat’s fur

Part your cat’s fur with your fingers to see its skin. Be on the lookout for any parasites, signs of irritation, or lumps and bumps. If you find anything unusual, show it to a vet to be safe.

What should you do if your cat has fleas?

If you’ve noticed signs that a cat has fleas, you’ll need to buy a good treatment that can cure your kitty. But be aware that 95% of fleas live in the surrounding environment, so it’s not enough to just treat the animal – you’ll need to de-flea your home too.

There are many different treatments available, and the best options will depend on your home, your cat, and how bad the flea infestation is. Get some professional advice by talking to your vet about what to do next. Also, never use a dog flea treatment on your cat, as it contains ingredients that are dangerous for felines.