Can Indoor Cats Get Fleas?

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Even if your cat lives indoors, they are still at risk for fleas. Learn how your cat can get fleas and how you can combat an infestation.

Black and white cat on a bed scratching its neck.

While indoor cats are at a lower risk for catching fleas than their outdoor counterparts, it is still possible for your cat to run into this nasty parasite. Fleas are tiny but powerful —they use powerful back legs to jump on pets as they walk by and some fleas can jump up to 7 inches high. They also multiply rapidly; when feeding on a pet, like your cat, a single flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day. Here's what you need to know to help keep your indoor cat protected from fleas.

How Did My Indoor Cat Get Fleas?

If you discover fleas on your indoor cat, you're probably wondering just how they got there. Unfortunately, there are many ways fleas make their way into your home:

  1. A neighbor: If you live in an apartment complex or other housing with shared space, your cat may encounter fleas simply through other infested pets that live in close proximity.
  2. Another pet: If you have other pets that go outside, such as a dog or even a more adventurous cat, they can bring fleas into the home.
  3. Used furniture: If you buy furniture or rugs from someone whose pet has fleas, you might inadvertently bring the bugs into your home. Or if you move into a new house, there may already be fleas there from previous pets. Clean everything thoroughly to avoid an accidental transfer of fleas.
  4. Wild animals: Fleas are common pests on animals that live around your home, like raccoons, rabbits or opossums. As these flea-infested creatures move around your yard or deck, they can drop flea eggs into the environment. These eggs eventually turn into adults that can jump on you, hitching a ride into your home — these are known as hitchhiker fleas.

What Should I Do If My Cat Gets Fleas?

If there are fleas on your cat, swift action is best. Contact your veterinarian for treatment options. Use a flea comb to remove as many fleas as possible, and vacuum frequently to remove the fleas and their eggs from your carpets and floors. Make sure to take the vacuum canister or dust bag outside immediately.

Can You Prevent Fleas on Indoor Cats?

In order to prevent flea infestations among indoor cats, make sure to keep up with your regular flea preventive. Your veterinarian can advise you which flea preventive — topical, oral, or collar — is best for your cat.

Additionally, check your cat's fur regularly (especially while grooming) for fleas or for signs of fleas, such as "flea dirt" — flea excrement that resembles black pepper. If you notice your cat scratching a lot, check them carefully using a flea comb, which has much finer teeth than a regular grooming tool.

Fleas are a hassle for cats and their owners, but by taking these precautions, you will greatly decrease the likelihood of a flea infestation. Find more information on how to treat your cat with fleas.

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