Fleas and Ticks - how to detect them, how to get rid of them and how to prevent infestation

Fleas and ticks are parasites that can infest your kitten and cause serious health issues. They are usually found in wooded areas or gardens with high grass. Alternatively other animals, including pets, can be infested with fleas. Here is an overview on how to detect these parasites, how to get rid of them and how to prevent infestation.

Why are they a health hazard for you kitten? Fleas and ticks can cause a wide range of problems, from skin irritations and allergies to more serious diseases like anemia and Lyme disease. Do not take an infestation lightly. 

Where are these parasites found? Ticks (see photo below) can live for years on blades of grass, grain or on the branch of a tree. They will register when an animal, a potential victim, is in its vicinity and fall on to it. Sometimes a cat moving through a garden is all it takes for a tick to be brushed along and get caught in its fur. It will then seek a good spot to leech onto and within hours begin sucking its blood.  The blood loss is insignificant, but ticks transmit serious diseases.

Fleas are most commonly found in areas with high humidity and ideal hidding surfaces, such as carpets and bedding. They can also be brought in on pets, on clothing and in other items. Once in the home, fleas can quickly reproduce, making infestations difficult to control. 

Detection & Treatment

The first step in treating fleas and ticks is to identify the source of the problem. Regularly check your kittens fur. Also: If your kitten scratches itself a lot, it might be a sign of infestation. When uncertain, use a flea comb to see if any parasites will be trapped in its teeth (do this outside if possible). Ticks are easier detected when they are still moving through the kitten´s coat or once they have been leeched onto it for several days. 

Treating flea infestation on a kitten can be tricky, as they are very sensitive to chemicals and can be easily overwhelmed by strong insecticides. It’s important to start the treatment process as soon as possible. The first step is to thoroughly comb the kitten’s fur with a flea comb to remove any fleas and eggs that may be present. After that, you should bathe the kitten with a gentle flea shampoo, making sure to use only a small amount and rinsing it out completely. Make sure the shampoo does not get into its eyes, ears or nose. Next, you should apply a flea powder or flea spray to the kitten’s fur and skin. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging to avoid over-dosing the kitten.

Lastly, you should vacuum the area around the kitten and dispose of the vacuum bag as soon as possible. Wash all bedding and other items in hot water, including carpets if possible.

Removing a tick from your kitten´s skin

The best way to get rid of a tick that has already attached itself onto your kitten is to let the vet do it. If it is not done properly, the head of the tick can remain in its skin and cause an infection.

If you can’t get to the vet right away and need to remove the tick yourself, there are a few steps you should follow. First, put on a pair of gloves to protect yourself from potential infection. Next, use fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up with steady, even pressure. Once the tick has been removed, keep it in a sealed container or plastic bag in case your vet needs to test it for any diseases. Finally, clean the area where the tick was removed with an antiseptic to help avoid infection. Be sure to wash your hands or gloves thoroughly afterwards. 

How to prevent flea & tick infestation 

Vacuuming regularly and washing bedding and other items in hot water can help to reduce the number of fleas and ticks in the home. Additionally, keep kittens away from areas where fleas and ticks are known to live if possible and cut the grass if you have a garden

Treating pets with a flea and tick prevention product (preventative medication) can help to reduce the risk of infection. This should be discussed with your veterinarian before administering it to your kitten. There are several types to consider:

For more information on health issues, visit our page on common cat diseases.