When your cat has kittens it’s a wonderful experience watching such innocent little creatures emerging, eyes shut tight yet very quickly latching on for their first suckle of their mother’s milk.
It’s quite overwhelming. What isn’t so pleasant is spotting unwelcome insects on their fur before they are even a day old. How does this occur? Are Kittens actually born with fleas?
There is a myth that kittens can be born with fleas. Kittens cannot be born with fleas. If their mum, or any other household pet, has fleas, kittens can become infested immediately after birth. Make sure you deflea all of your pets and soft furnishings before your queen gives birth to ensure they don’t suffer from a flea infestation.
If kittens do get fleas it is quite difficult to treat them as it’s not safe to apply the usual treatments. So it’s best to avoid this happening as best you can.
The Myth Surrounding Kittens and Fleas
Let’s examine the myth that suggests kittens can be born with fleas. Perhaps it originated when someone couldn’t accept that there were fleas on their queen or anywhere else in their house.
Or it may have been assumed that because kittens can be born with worms that they can also be born with fleas. Whilst we’re here though there are some things you should know about kittens and fleas.
A Few Facts About Fleas
Did you know that cat fleas are the most common type of flea? Beware, they are not that fussy and so will happily munch on dogs and humans too.
Fleas cannot fly but can jump a distance of 8 inches (about 20cm) and this is no mean feat as it’s about 150 times their own height. That’s like a typical human being able to jump over the Trump building in New York!
A flea is a parasite that feeds on blood. The most noted achievement of fleas to-date is the spread of the Bubonic Plague in the 14th century which killed one-third of the human population! Thanks for that.
They did this by first infecting rats. Fleas are of course still capable of spreading diseases and their bite leaves a painful and itchy red bump. So it’s best to prevent them from infecting your pets.
Why Have I Found Fleas on My Newborn Kittens?
The only way newborn kittens get fleas is if there are fleas in your house, on their mother or on any other pets within close proximity.
Fleas can survive without a host (an animal whose blood they can drink) for 2 to 3 months. So even if your other pets are all clear, fleas could be lurking in your house waiting for an unsuspecting host to get within 8 inches!
A flea infestation in the house doesn’t mean you haven’t cleaned properly because they can tuck out of reach of the vacuum cleaner.
It’s worth noting female fleas that have been dormant (not feeding) will start laying eggs once they have tucked into their first blood meal. Lovely. I do hope you’re not just about to tuck into your lunch.
Preventing Fleas on Kittens
The best way to ensure that newborn kittens don’t get fleas is to make sure their mother doesn’t have any. So, can a pregnant cat be given flea treatment?
I did a little research and noticed that several people say spot-on treatments are safe for pregnant cats. Play it safe and ring your vet for confirmation. Make sure all other household pets are clear of fleas too.
As a final precaution, you should treat your house one room at a time, keeping pets out of the room being treated. There are plenty of sprays on the market and your vet should be able to advise you of the best type.
Treating Fleas on Kittens Under 8 Weeks of Age
If you are reading this post because your kittens have fleas then you will want to know the safest way to treat them.
If they have fleas, it’s very likely that their mother has them too and will also need treating. Kittens are delicate and so removing fleas from them is something to approach with the utmost care.
You should not use a flea treatment and if you treat their mum with a spot-on treatment make sure that the kittens aren’t mobile enough to reach and lick the area where it is applied.
Experts recommend removing as many fleas as you can, squashing them as you go. Then hold the kitten gently in a warm bath and soak it up to its neck. Gently massage a pure, mild soap all over (avoiding ears and face).
You may see fleas scurrying to dry parts during this process. Pick them off and drown them in a separate cup of water. Rinse the kitten and dry it thoroughly with a soft towel straight away. Look at that little kitten in this pink blanket, how cute are they?
Flea Treatments For Kittens Over 8 Weeks of Age
There are treatments that are safe enough to use on kittens of this age if they are too much of a handful to bathe. Again be careful with spot-on treatments as kittens might lick this off each other. It is best to ask your vet for a recommendation.
Different Types of Flea Treatment and How They Work
There are seven types of flea treatment on the market. I thought I’d give you a little information about each one.
1) Topical medications
These are known as spot-on medication and are usually applied at the base of the cat’s neck, between its shoulder blades. They come in a single dose dispenser and spread from the spot where they are applied over the entire body.
The medication seeps into the sweat glands and from these, it is gradually released over the next few weeks. This type of treatment can repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.
We have used this type successfully on our cats for 15 years so I thoroughly recommend it. There is a kitten version too.
2) Oral Medications
This type has to be swallowed by your cat each month. If you’ve ever tried to give an uncooperative cat a tablet (you may still bear the scars to prove it), you might be balking at the thought of repeating this on a monthly basis.
But some people have perfected the technique and may prefer this treatment to the spot-on type. I, however, have not.
I think I would rather poke myself in the eye than try and do this every day. If you are brave enough to try it though, you can try and hide it in some food they like.
But you then have to pay close attention as they may spit it out. Also, some people avoid this method as if they realize you’re trying to fool them they may associate you with the betrayal and not trust you so much next time!
These are applied directly to the coat, avoiding the mouth and eyes. They last for several weeks as long as kitty stays dry. I can’t see why this would be preferable to a spot-on treatment but each to their own.
One of the downsides to this is as it’s a spray a lot of the content can miss the subject so the dosage you administer may not be as concentrated as other methods.
These have to be applied all over your cat’s body, even between the toes, and then rubbed in well. This sounds a bit problematic to me as cats aren’t always enamored by being rubbed in certain areas such as on their paws and tummies.
I’ve noticed some people say that this type of treatment can cause vomiting and diarrhea, so it isn’t one I would recommend.
These are applied to wet fur and will get rid of fleas and their eggs. BUT you have to leave the shampoo on for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly…all of this whilst avoiding your cat’s mouth and eyes!
I’m having trouble envisaging this being a successful treatment for cats so again can’t recommend it.
I had never heard of this type until today. It is a concentrated liquid treatment that is diluted and then poured over the body or applied with a sponge.
Hmm, sounds difficult to me as you have to protect your cats’ eyes and mouth, and your own skin (from the liquid and your cats’ claws and teeth I imagine).
These contain a concentrated flea repellent and can protect your cat for several months, assuming your cat doesn’t manage to lose the collar.
Our cats perfected the art of losing their collars and I’m pretty certain they used to help each other to remove them the minute we let them of the house.
A side story, we once bought our cats a camera that attaches to their collar. We were intrigued as to where they wondered all day long.
The very first day we fitted it (it wasn’t cheap) he comes back with the collar but no camera! I have visions of him entering someone’s home and seeing something he shouldn’t so it was taken off him 🙂 I guess I’ll never know!
Okay, so I hope we’re all agreed that kittens are most certainly not born with fleas. Prevention is the best cure, so follow the advice above for happy flea-free cats and kittens.
Finally, if you want to discover the 12 things that all cat owners do in secret – click on the article! You won’t be disappointed…