A Flea?s Life

The amazing physical abilities of this parasite in all its stages make it a formidable foe to your cat.

By Fran Pennock Shaw

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Most people don’t realize how long fleas can live and how difficult it can be to get rid of them. That’s because most people don’t know flea biology. The common cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) thrives in warm, humid settings but can survive in cars, basements, dog houses and similarly protected areas for about a year, depending upon its stage of development. “Fleas aren’t as affected by cold weather as people think,” explains Michael Paul, DVM, executive director of the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). “Homes have microclimates — places where it stays warm or moist even in winter, like under the house or in the garage or attic. The fleas don’t go away. You just can’t see them.”

Killing adult fleas doesn’t solve the whole problem. “Most problems in flea control are not associated with failure of flea control products,” says Michael Dryden, DVM, professor of veterinary parasitology at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Manhattan, Kan. “They result from our misunderstanding of flea biology and the reasons for persistent flea infestations. The problem is not the fleas today, but how many flea eggs were laid yesterday.”

**Get the May 2011 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article or click here to purchase a PDF version.**

 

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