Most often, flea infestations in cats don't have much of a consequence. Once you treat the infestation and rid your cat of fleas, your problems are over. However, there are some cases in which the fleas can cause more serious, ongoing issues. If you cat has fleas -- or if he recently had fleas and you've since treated the problem -- keep an eye out for these possible problems that can result from a flea infestation.
Fleas can carry tapeworm eggs. So, if your cat ingests a flea (which is common during grooming), he could become infested with tapeworms. The early signs of tapeworm infestation in cats are usually quite subtle. You may notice little, white, wiggling segments that look like grains of rice near your cat's tail and in his feces. These are tapeworm segments. You may also notice that your cat's appetite increases or that he begins to lose weight.
If you suspect your cat may have tapeworm, you can purchase and administer a tapeworm medication over-the-counter at your local pet store. Look for a dewormer with the active ingredient praziquantel. If the infection persists, contact your vet. They can administer a more effective dewormer.
Some cats are highly allergic to fleas' saliva. They'll break out in sores and rashes and may begin losing their hair as a result of a flea infestation. If your cat's hair has begun to fall out or you've noticed sores on his body, this is likely the case. Luckily, getting rid of the fleas will mostly take care of the symptoms. But there are a few things you can do to make your cat more comfortable while his skin heals.
Give your cat a bath with a soothing oatmeal shampoo. If you're unable to bathe your cat, a professional groomer can do this for you. Also, run a vaporizer to add moisture to the air in the room your cat spends most of his time. This will help calm his dry, itchy skin.
This problem really only arises in young kittens and in weaker, elderly cats with severe flea infestations. Anemia is a lack of red blood cells, and it can be a consequence of the blood loss your cat suffers due to the flea bites. Symptoms include extreme lethargy, lack of appetite, pale gums, and rapid breathing. If you think your cat may be anemic, contact your vet right away. A blood transfusion may be needed in order to improve your cat's health. For more minor cases, your vet may recommend a modified, high-iron diet until your cat recovers and the fleas are gone completely.
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