Start a cat flea-management program
Question: I recently adopted a cat who was treated for fleas before I brought him home. I plan to keep him indoors. Should I wait until I see him scratching to determine if I should treat him again for fleas?
Answer: Scratching doesn't mean a pet has fleas. And not all fleas can cause a pet to scratch. So a flea infestation could be lurking in your home and you won't know it. Keep in mind that even if your pet is indoors, fleas can travel inside on you and your clothes.
In as little as three months, a pair of fleas can produce 20,000 offspring. So the best approach to flea control is a pre-emptive and proactive strike, because once they take hold of your animals and your house, they are tough to eliminate.
Find out when your pet was last treated so that you can start a flea-management program in the right time frame. Talk with your veterinarian about a simple program such as a monthly ointment, which kills fleas for 30 days or more. In tough cases, outdoor areas might require treatment, or indoor spaces might need fumigation.
Smart preventive measures include washing pet bedding at least once a week. Vacuum frequently, especially between sofa cushions, between any small crevices and even on wood floors, which are breeding grounds for fleas. Clean and treat your automobile, pet carrier, garage or any other place where your pet spends time.
Q: How long does a flea live?
A: Fleas are determined and industrious. They live and feed on your pet for about a month and can lay as many as 50 eggs a day while ingesting about 15 times their body weight in blood.
Flea eggs, which look like grains of salt, hatch into legless larvae within 12 days. Larvae will spin cocoons and turn into pupae in eight to 24 days. Within five to seven days, they emerge as blood-hungry fleas.
Larvae are able to patiently wait as long as 200 days and pupae up to year, for a tasty host -- pet or person -- to come along.
The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
. Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.