Absolutely! Fleas are vile external parasites that feed off the blood of its host. Although these parasites don’t have wings their legs produce enough force to jump long and wide from one victim to another at lightning speed. Their fast movement and knack for burrowing into an animals fur make them hard to detect aiding their efforts to fully infest your cat and home.

Fleas can lay 40 to 50 eggs a day for up to 50 days! Over 2,000 different species of flea are thriving and alive all over the world today.

Masters At Infestation

This is super scary stuff folks. The flea certainly ranks high as masters at infestation. One tiny creature equals over 2,000 in about 50 days. What does this have to do with cats? I’m getting to that I promise. If one flea can make a cat sick, a dog, a person or any warm-bodied mammal, what kind of damage do you think 50 or 2,000 will do on large scale or even small scale infestation.

Did You Know – Think Plague and Cat Scratch Fever

Fleas are carriers of disease and bacteria. Most insects like ants, cockroaches all carry harmful bacteria. But fleas are carriers of much more deadly disease-causing bacteria than most. Yes, that includes the bubonic plague and cat scratch fever. Lucky for cats these bacteria only target humans, very bad for us if our yard, home, and pets are infested. Although not epidemics or wide-spread cat scratch fever and the plague are still active diseases today.

What have we learned so far? Fleas can multiply at alarming rates causing heavy infestations. They actively carry harmful disease-causing bacteria and the blood of warm-bodied mammals is their source of food.

Hard To Kill

On top of all that, the smallest infestation can take months to fully eradicate. I’ve seen firsthand it could take a year for medium to heavy outbreaks to resolve. We’re talking work your butt off every day. Washing, cleaning, setting off flea foggers, bathing and administering flea medications to your cats (every day!). Now that the fleas are making your cat sick so are you by stressing him out and over medicating.

What You Need To Know

Ok, now that you have a better understanding of how vicious these little devils are I’m going to share some inside information that you probably won’t learn online even from most veterinarians. When you work hands-on rescuing cats from all type of situations you really do see more than your average cat owner or vet. I’m not belittling veterinarians or telling you to take my advice instead of a medical professional so please, let’s not go there. But I will share this tidbit. During my time working closely with a local veterinarian – great credentials and love for animals (great person), he looked me in the eyes one day and said: “you probably have more experience dealing with diseases and major issues than I do”. And in some ways it is true. Not that I can swoop in and perform life-saving surgery or anything of the sort. But for the fact in his practice, for years, he mostly dealt with wellness and routine care. For two years I’d been dealing with flea ravaged, fip, fiv, panleukopenia on the brink of dead cats and other horrible issues I won’t subject you to. There were times I told him tips and tricks he didn’t realize and things we just plain learned or figured out together. Onto what you really want to know.

What Can Happen

Obviously, with little critters biting your cat minor skin irritation is inevitable and can lead to slight allergic reaction. You may notice nothing at all or your cat may exhibit light scratching and his or her fur will probably lose some luster.

However, not every cat is going to experience the same reaction especially if you can’t eradicate all the fleas in one go or depending on how infested he or she is. If this is the case, your cat will need more than flea medication. These are very serious reactions that fleas can cause.

  • Red Bumpy Sores and Rashes Underneath The Fur
    While rubbing your cat you may feel bumps and notice heat coming from their skin. These are small lesions brought on by irritation from bites of fleas. If your cat has gotten to this point, it is doubtful the lesions will clear on their own and will soon become infected. Also, at this stage eradicating the fleas will have no effect on the issue. Once infection sets in your cat will need proper medication from your vet which may include steroid injection and antibiotic. Sadly, if not treated, your cat will become extremely ill and, like people, can die from untreated infection.
  • Anemia
    A cat exposed to high infestation or ongoing flea bites may become anemic. For those who are not sure what anemia is, I’m not going into full detail in this article, but here’s a brief synopsis: Anemia is a drop or lack of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen through the body. Most anemias stemmed from flea bites will affect the sickly, younger or elderly cats. However, despite age or health, it is possible for any cat to become anemic in the right circumstances. A cat fallen victim to anemia will be listless, their appetite will decrease and in worse cases, a blood transfusion is needed. The adverse side effects of Anemia is what makes this so life-threatening. If you think your cat has signs or is Anemic get them to the vet as soon as you can.

    Photo by Andrea Popa on Unsplash
  • Licking and Biting
    Cats are outstanding self-groomers and their digestive systems are more than adapt to handle normal amounts of hair and dander. Naturally, a cat that has even one flea will self groom more than usual. The more fleas, the more overly obsessed your cat is with licking. If licking isn’t enough a cat will bite in a pulling motion taking in even more hair. What happens when your cat’s stomach digests too many fleas and an abnormal amount of hair and dander? Well, this can lead to excessive diarrhea, vomiting or worse blockages in the digestive system. Diarrhea or vomiting may not seem cause for alarm but for a cat it can be. If uncontrollable or long periods of diarrhea or vomiting persist this can lead to a multitude of minor and major health problems. The licking and biting can follow the red bumpy sores or vice versa. Or you can wind up with both.


Bottom Line

The bottom line here is to keep your cat flea free to avoid any sickness or discomfort for him or her. Or if you do wind up with a flea problem best to get it in check as soon as possible. Talk with your vet about the best flea products to prevent and rid fleas. If fleas are really bad in your area think about having your yard treated with insecticides.


4 Replies to “Can Fleas Make Cats Sick – What You Need To know”

  1. My mommy cat gave birth last month to 4 kitten. 3 of them died, one survived but while it is growing up, I have noticed that she have some fleas already. I tried to remove those but they were so fast and I she’s crying when its being removed. Last week my last surviving kitty died, so sad 🙁

      1. For cats at least six weeks or older you can get topical flea medication or pill flea medication from your vet. However, for tiny kittens or cats that are sick, you can’t use these types of products. One of my first batch of kittens were covered in fleas and Momma kitty too. The vet had us bathe all the kittens and Momma cat in dawn dish detergent. But you do have to be careful to warm the kittens up really good afterward. The dawn will suffocate the fleas and wash away the flea dirt. But it will not kill flea eggs, so this will need to be repeated until old enough for flea medication. There are other things you can do to and I’m planning on making an article covering this info as soon as I can. A lot of people are unaware of different ways you can help control fleas especially for kittens or sickly cats.

    1. I am so sorry to hear that. Fleas are such nasty parasites! A lot of people truly do not realize how dangerous and lethal they can be.

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