Even if your cat lives indoors 100% of the time, your home could become infested with fleas. This is due to the fact that fleas can hitch a ride on a pant leg or shoe, then make their way to your home. While they’re unable to fly, cat fleas have strong hind legs allowing them to run and jump through fur, hair, and feathers. Don’t be fooled by the name—the cat flea can be found on dogs as well.
Cat fleas have four life cycles: egg, larva, pupa, and imago (adult). After an adult female has had her fill on enough blood, she can produce up to 30 eggs every day (about one per hour) throughout her entire life. Cat flea larvae like dark, warm spaces, and will die if the right area isn’t found. In the pupal stage, the cat fleas can stay inside a their cocoon and wait in semi-dormancy until it’s clear a host is nearby—body heat, movement, etc. Once adults, cat fleas require fresh blood to produce eggs and continue the cycle.
Animals can be allergic to the flea’s saliva, causing dermatitis. If the animal is smaller and/or the infestation is severe, anemia and dehydration may occur, which can lead to death. If you notice your pet scratching a lot more than usual, be sure to check for “flea dirt,” which is actually the fecal material from a flea (flea poop). Flea dirt is essentially dried blood. A good way of testing if what you’re seeing is flea dirt, put some on a damp paper towel. If it turns red or a shade of red, it’s likely flea dirt and it’s important to get ahead of the problem ASAP!