So it’s actually pretty simple to tell if your animal has fleas. First, they can have fleas and you may never see a flea because they don’t actually live on the animal’s body. Fleas only jump on the animal for a meal.
Push your animals fur in the opposite direction from the way it grows so you can see the skin. Do this is a few different places, but the best place to look is near the base of their tail on their back. If you see what looks like black dandruff, or black specks, your pet has fleas. The black specks are flea poop. If you want, you can put some of the specks on a wet paper towel which will turn the specks red (because it has blood in it).
So now what do you do? Avoid buying flea products from the pet store because, to put it simply, they don’t work. For cats my favorite flea product is Revolution. It is topical and absorbs through the skin on the back of the neck. I like Revolution because it doesn’t leave a sticky spot on your cats neck for a few days like other topical flea products. It costs about $20 per dose and you use 1 dose per month. Use for a minimum of 3 months to go through the compete life cycle of the fleas. If you have a cat who goes outdoors then year-round prevention is recommended.
***Please consider buying these products from your local veterinarian and not from large online pharmacies. Local businesses need your business to stay around. Buy local***
Revolution also is a heartworm preventative for both cats and dogs.
After you use a flea product the fleas won’t die immediately, but rather your cat is now a walking insecticide. So any new flea that bites that cat will no be able to reproduce and will die.
This image of the flea life cycle is from Capstar, which is a pill that you give to your pet that will kill adult fleas within 30 minutes. It is a great thing to use to start treating a flea infestation, but will have to be followed up with a prevents flea eggs from hatching. (Revolution and Capstar are only available from veterinarians or with a prescription from a veterinarian).
Any animal who goes outside will probably pick up fleas pretty quickly. Even indoor-only cats can get fleas, but I wouldn’t recommend getting a prevention unless you see evidence of a flea infestation.
***Drug companies will honor their product if there are any issues with it only if you buy them from your veterinarian, but not if you buy them from an online pharmacy. Another reason to buy local***