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Springtime brings warm weather and uninvited guests along with it. Fleas turn active when the temperature is favorable. They are active insects that feed on the blood from you and your cat. They jump on to animals and burrow through their fur into their skin, where they remain hidden while they bite the skin and ingest the blood. This is extremely irritating to the cat, as the bites can cause uncontrollable itching and inflammation.
- Behavior problems – If the infestation is severe, it is easy to see the fleas jumping off and on your cat's body. If not, you will begin to see signs of restlessness in your cat. Your cat might start scratching and chewing on some parts of the body more. If you see your cat shake its head often and scratch its ears, it is a sign that you cat has flea infestation. If your cat constantly licks at its coat, that is another potential sign. A lot of the cats groom fleas out of their coat before you can see any evidence.
- Check the haircoat and skin – Lay your cat on its back and check the areas where fleas can hide. The groin and armpits are two of the areas that are protected and warm, and are a prime hideout spot. Check the ears for signs of redness, scratching, dirt, or blood. The skin on the groin, the base of the tail, or the belly may appear bumpy and red if your cat is scratching itself a lot. Hair loss can be seen in areas where scratching is excessive, and there might be black spots and scabbing on the skin.
- Flea comb – Get a flea comb and run it through the hair on the legs and back of your cat. The comb is designed to catch and pull the fleas from their place of hiding under the haircoat. Ensure that you get close to the skin when you run the comb through the hair so that you have a better chance of getting to where the fleas are hiding. Keep soapy water ready to douse the live fleas that you find while combing.
- Check the surrounding area – Fleas do not just stay on your cat's body. They can also be found in areas where your cat tends to spend a lot of time. Closely examine the feeding area, the bedding and other locations where your cat likes to spend time for fleas or flea dirt. Cats like to sleep on top of kitchen cabinets, window sills and the refrigerator. So make sure you examine those haunts.
- Seek the advice of the vet – If you are unable to find any signs of fleas on your cat or the environment, or if you have done the flea eradication treatment (right down to getting a flea collar for your cat) and your cat is still scratching, visit the veterinarian. He/she will get to the root of your cat's discomfort and suggest possible treatment options.