If you are a cat owner who has never had to deal with the problem of a flea infestation before, you may be surprised when your cat is stricken with these pesky insects. Even if your cat stays close to home, fleas and ticks are canny creatures that will find ways to get into your home and onto your cat. Here are five common ways your cat gets fleas and/or ticks.
Even with a tall fence, squirrels, raccoons, feral cats, and other small rodents will find ways to get into your yard, carrying fleas and ticks along with them. This is one reason not to encourage wild animals to come into your cat’s environment by leaving out offerings such as corn, nuts, and seeds. Cats especially like to sit on windowsills to look out at the world, and an open window, even one that is screened in, is a potential entrance for fleas and ticks.
You and your human visitors can also be unwitting carriers of fleas and ticks. Anyone coming into your home could be a carrier of fleas. They can be brought in from a visitor’s own home or pet without their knowledge. If you like to spend time hiking in areas where fleas and ticks are prevalent, it’s easy for a few to hitch a ride on your pants leg, socks, shoes, etc. These parasites are well-adapted at finding ways to attach to potential hosts in order to find their next blood meal.
Anytime your cat goes out into the world -- even if only for a visit to the veterinarian; a stint at the boarding kennel; a trip to the groomer; a ride in the car; etc. -- it is being exposed to the possibility of fleas and ticks hopping aboard. If you live in a grassy area and your cat goes outside, even occasionally, take care to check through his fur for ticks that may have hopped on.
For the outside, there are some plants that are known for their flea repelling characteristics, and it is worth it to try anti-pest landscaping. However, it is often easier and more effective to use chemical pesticides and repellants for yard and perimeter treatment, especially when dealing with a flea or tick infestation that is already in full progress.
If you suspect there are fleas and ticks in your area (and there probably are), don't ignore the problem. Use flea and tick preventives year-round and inspect your cat periodically. It’s much easier to start early, keeping parasites from getting a foothold, than it is to try to eradicate them after they have had a chance to breed and establish themselves in your home and on your cat.