Why Won't My Cat Fleas Die?

Posted by Dr. Roth on

cat laying on couch why won't my cat fleas die?

It's one of every pet parent's worst nightmares. Their cat starts scratching and grooming themself more frequently, gets restless, and their skin looks red and irritated. Then the pet parent sees a tiny insect jumping from the cat's fur. The feline has fleas. 

Fleas are more than just an annoyance. In a matter of a month, a dozen fleas can become thousands. Along with leaving the feline itchy, frustrated, and exhausted, these insects can infest the home and start attacking other pets. Fleas can also carry diseases that may significantly harm a cat's (and a pet parent's) overall health.  

Once the insects have made their home on a cat, fleas are difficult to eliminate. Pet parents may try every trick in the book to get rid of them, yet they keep coming back. For pet parents wondering, “Why won't my cat fleas die?” there is a solution for getting rid of them for good, and preventing a future infestation. 

The Life Cycle of Cat Fleas

Fleas have four life stages – egg, larva, pupa, and flea. Their development depends significantly on temperature and humidity. As such, their life cycle can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, and a cat's body provides them with the perfect conditions in which to thrive.

A flea's life begins as an egg. Adult female fleas lay eggs after a blood meal from their host – a cat or other animal. The insects lay approximately 40 eggs a day. Many fall from the cat's body in places where she spends most of her time, such as her bed and the couch. 

Larvae emerge from the eggs anywhere from two days to two weeks later. In cold, dry conditions, those eggs can lay dormant even longer. In ideal conditions, this stage lasts between one to three weeks. Then they create a cocoon (pupae stage), where they remain for several days. These cocoons can lay dormant for years, sometimes buried deep in carpet fibers and safe from everyday cleaning chemicals until conditions are right, and then they emerge as adult fleas.

Adult fleas need to eat within a few hours of hatching. Once they do, females will begin laying eggs within a few days. They live on their host, feeding and laying eggs for weeks or even months before they die. The cycle continues, leaving the affected feline, other animals in the home, and pet parents frustrated and miserable. 


Life Cycle of a Flea Infographic

Why Won't My Cat Fleas Die?

With female fleas laying eggs daily, getting rid of fleas can feel like an impossible task. Even a handful of fleas can lead to thousands in various stages of the flea life cycle. Pet parents can take care of the adult fleas on their cat, but eggs – which are only slightly larger than a grain of sand – are still hatching, and new fleas are emerging from their cocoons. Pet parents might think they've eliminated the problem, only to find more a few days to a few weeks later. If only one part of the problem is treated and the flea life cycle is not broken, the issue persists. 

How to Eliminate Cat Fleas

Eliminating fleas might feel impossible, but it's not. It does take some time and consistent effort, but pet parents can get rid of them for good. The entire process can take a few weeks. They can start with their cats. Medicated shampoo or topical flea medicines for cats help get rid of the adult fleas and any eggs stuck in the feline's fur. They may also get a chewable medication that can kill adult fleas and alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. 

Treating a cat with fleas is only one part of the process. Pet parents will also need to treat the home and check other pets –  indoor and outdoor – for signs of fleas. If they find any, those pets should get treatment, too. They should wash all pet bedding in hot soapy water to destroy fleas in all stages of life that may be present on the material. They may need to do this several times over a few weeks. 

Upholstery on furniture as well as any carpeting should be treated. Flooring, including hardwood and tile should be vacuumed and debris discarded immediately. In severe cases, a professional exterminator may be required. Again, the process does take time. Patience and persistence are essential. 

How to Prevent Fleas and Ticks on Cats

Once pet parents eliminate the flea infestation, the next step is preventing a new one. One of the best ways to do just that is by applying a monthly flea and tick treatment for cats or using a flea and tick collar. These treatments repel pests, keeping them from a cat in the first place.

Another thing a pet parent can do is to treat their yard, especially if their cats and dogs go outside. They should mow the grass regularly and keep bushes and hedges neat. Regular professional pest treatments, such as sprays, can also help deter fleas and ticks from taking up residence. 

Finally, pet parents can help to avoid more issues by checking their cats and other pets regularly for fleas. Even with regular prevention, a flea or two can get past and cause problems. Pet parents should use a fine-toothed flea comb to inspect their pets. A little precaution can go a long way in keeping all pets (and humans) in the home safe and healthy.


How to apply a monthly topical flea and tick treatment for cats: 

Protect Outdoor and Indoor Cats From Fleas and Ticks

Fleas are a significant problem. They make cats itchy, irritated, and exhausted. By extension, they make pet parents annoyed and miserable, too. Without quick treatment, the insects can take up residence in the home and start infesting other pets, making the situation even worse. 

Fortunately, there is something that pet parents can do. Fuzzy's flea and tick bundle can help eliminate fleas (and ticks) and keep the insects from coming back. Capstar, in particular, can kill fleas immediately, while Effipro helps to prevent future infestations. If a pet parent is still wondering how to keep their feline companions safe and healthy, download the Fuzzy app or become a member to connect with Fuzzy's veterinary support.

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