How to fix your flea problem
Flea control is a year-round battle, as climate-controlled homes make it easy for fleas to breed all year long. Additionally, eggs and larvae can lie dormant for up to 18 months before finding a host and reproducing—so you shouldn’t let your flea-fighting guard down for even a short amount of time.
If you’ve noticed your cat scratching, use a flea comb to part your cat’s fur down to the skin. You may see the actual fleas, or you may see what they leave behind: flea dirt.
This is the excrement left on your cat’s skin by adult fleas. It resembles loose dirt or potting soil, but will turn red or reddish brown when met with water. So get a little of the suspected flea dirt on your flea comb and place it in a glass of water. Fleas feed on your cat’s blood, which is why their excrement turns the water a reddish color.
If you determine that it is, indeed, flea dirt, you’ll want to start protecting your cat right away. First, your cat will need a bath. Ideally, this would be done in a sterile environment—like a groomer’s—that is free of fleas. If you do the bath at home, do your best to de-flea the bathing area. Remove all rugs, towels, or other textiles that could provide a hiding place for fleas. Then make a plan for de-fleaing the rest of your home—and keep your cat in one de-flead area while you clean the rest of the house.
Wash all rugs, bedding and linens in hot water. If you have carpet, have it shampooed. Vacuum thoroughly, paying particular attention to dark, hidden spaces: behind couches, between cushions, under beds and in corners. Fleas are amazing jumpers—up to 13 feet in vertical height—so be sure to clean the tops of shelves and cabinets, too.
Pay extra attention to your cat’s bedding and favorite perches, making sure they are all thoroughly cleaned. And be sure to empty all the litterboxes and wash them with hot water before refilling them with fresh litter.
Consult your vet about how and how soon after the bath to give your cat a monthly flea preventative, when the medication will become effective, and how long you have to wait before your cat can roam freely through the house again. And plan to maintain this same cleaning routine for the following 5-6 weeks after the initial de-fleaing.