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Can anyone talk to me about cat flea bites?

(13 Posts)
juneau Mon 15-Apr-13 08:52:58

I've come back after a weekend at my DM's with 29 small, round, red, very itchy bites. They're in two clusters - 14 behind my right knee and 15 on my lower back/bottom. My DM has two cats and her house isn't very clean. She immediately said 'My cats don't have fleas', and blamed my DF's dogs. It could be either, or neither, as I spent time in both houses, but was staying at my DM's. It could also be mosquitoes, I suppose, although I haven't seen any and it's rather early (and cold), for them, I would've thought? God, just writing this is making me itch sad

cozietoesie Mon 15-Apr-13 11:05:48

As I think I have said before, an acquaintance of mine who works with cats said once that some of the worst flea cases she ever saw were in housecats because their owners assumed that being indoor cats they wouldn't get fleas. They do.

I don't know whether your DM's cats are housecats but I think it's worth enquiring gently anyway whether she treats them - and for worms also. It's a long time since I had any flea bites (thank goodness for modern treatments) so I can't remember what they're like but I think I do actually remember getting bitten although definitely not in such a concentrated way as you seem to have been.

When you say her house 'isn't very clean' - how bad is it? I'm thinking that they could be flea bites but if her situation is 'difficult' and she's not maybe noticing things it might be a number of culprits. (eg bed bugs.)

Is your DF open to treating his dogs also? (In case he's forgetful about that.)

Anyway - the cats and the dogs need to have regular treatment anyway so that could be something you could check out to see if they really are getting it and arrange for them if they're not and you can afford it. (Decent spot on treatments are easily available.) Do you have the sort of relationship with your parents (and the time and inclination) to allow you to help out in this way ? If not, what other family and friends support do they have?

I doubt it's mosquitoes from what you describe and if your DM is in the UK. Have you checked out pictures of the bites to see if you can establish what they are?

(Sorry this is a bit rambly.)

juneau Mon 15-Apr-13 11:20:04

Thanks for your reply cozie.

AFAIK my DM treats her cats with flea drops. She certainly used to, but I spend as little time as possible at her house these days, so I really couldn't say. We have a somewhat antagonistic relationship, so anything I say is generally taken as criticism, however kindly meant or carefully worded.

Her cats are not house cats - they live in the country and they're in and out all day long.

As for my DF's dogs, they are well kept and treated and are always at the vet's for something or other, so I'd be very surprised if they weren't treated for fleas. I feel so awkward having to bring this up with either of them though sad

My mother's house is filthy by my standards, but I'm a clean freak so I appreciate that others, particularly others with pets, might not find it as bad as I do. Having said that, there is often cat pee on doors/walls/curtains that she hasn't noticed, and the carpets are stained where she's cleaned up vomit, or worse, but she doesn't do a great job. She's long-sighted, so cups nearly always have cat hair in them and her washing up is very lack-lustre (she has a dish-washer that she doesn't use), and my step-dad doesn't seem to notice or care and he never lifts a finger. sigh

I've just googled pictures of cat flea bites and yes, they look just like what I've got.

cozietoesie Mon 15-Apr-13 11:30:14

OK. If your DF has his dogs at the vets all the time then the likelihood is indeed that they're treated for fleas - and other nasties that dogs in particular might catch. Perhaps discuss in passing sometime without reference to your Mum's house?

I'm not sure there's much you can do given your relationship with your DM. People can be surprisingly lax with treatment - saying for instance 'Oh I always de-flea Tibbles' when it turns out they last did it a year ago.

It certainly doesn't sound as if she's that organized about life and her sight may mean that she doesn't see anything wrong such as flea dirt or jumpers. (If indeed she gets that close to the cats or grooms them. Seniorboy got a flea in 2009 but I saw there was a problem almost immediately because he has a daily groom and is also cream-furred apart from his face and paws.)

Do you have cats or dogs yourself? (I'm thinking about your own house and any treatment you might need.)

juneau Mon 15-Apr-13 11:33:30

My mother's two cats are dark grey and black, so it would be very hard to see fleas/flea dirts on them and, given her eyesight, she wouldn't see them anyway.

I don't have pets, but I'm concerned I may have brought a flea or two home with me as I noticed more bites this morning and we came home yesterday afternoon.

What I don't understand is, why am I the only one who appears to have been bitten?

cozietoesie Mon 15-Apr-13 12:03:59

If they're flea bites, the blighters have lodged on you then and there aren't that many of them - if in double figures at all. It happens.

As you don't have any pets you can be a tad more relaxed because they shouldn't last but just hoover thoroughly, wash the clothes and bedding that you all wore and used for the last few days. Get undressed yourself in an empty bath or shower stall, shaking clothes gently inside out before putting them in a poly bag for the washing machine. (If any jumpers appear, dab them with soap and/or immediately flush them down the plug hole.)

You can get spray for carpets etc from the local vet but if you haven't got any pets and have no immediate plans to get them, I'm not sure I'd bother. Good housekeeping/vacuuming etc should sort the issue.

The problem with your DM is longer term and one that you'll need to give some compassionate thought to.

Good luck.

cozietoesie Mon 15-Apr-13 12:11:47

I'm itching now!

grin

juneau Mon 15-Apr-13 13:16:35

The problem with my mother is ... intractable! I will give it some thought, but I know that if I say anything more than I've already said (I showed her the bites that had come up by yesterday morning and said 'Look, something's bitten me', to which she immediately said 'My cats don't have fleas! It must be your father's dogs' hmm)

We're supposed to be staying there for a week in July, but I think I'm going to have to cancel. Two days of her is more than enough and if her house if full of fleas too it's really the final straw.

Rikalaily Mon 15-Apr-13 13:26:07

Next time you go there, take a nit comb, get a piece of wet loo roll, comb around the cats neck and down it's back, wipe the comb contents on the tissue and squeeze. If there are black bits that turn the tissue red they have fleas. That way you can show your mum the evidence and she can treat/change the flea treatment she's using already.

I'd say you were bitten at your mums, if she doesn't vacuum very often her house will be overrun with them. The whole house will need to be cleaned and treated as well as the cats with something from the vet, not the supermarket.

deliasmithy Wed 17-Apr-13 09:57:50

Wash your clothes as hot as you can get away with and vacuum your house including edges of carpet just in case you brought any back with you.

It was in the news a few times last year that flea treatments are becoming less effective for dogs and cats. I certainly had this experience. We treated our cats but they still picked up fleas. Ankle bites galore. It took 4 different types of treatment, spraying of the house and daily vacuuming to eliminate them.
Because fleas live in gaps in skirting and can live in egg form for years, you can have the tidiest and cleanest house and still get them.

I would have thought that eventually your df or dm will start being bitten themselves.

juneau Wed 17-Apr-13 13:09:17

I would have thought that eventually your df or dm will start being bitten themselves.

This is my hope, because I can't really address this with either of them without causing huge offence. I'm 99% certain it's my DM's house that's the problem, as that is where we were staying. It's strange that I was the only one bitten though, as I was there with both my DC and neither of them was bitten. Maybe I taste better? Dunno.

I cleaned the house from top to bottom yesterday and changed all the bedding and boil-washed it. No more bites have appeared on my body since the ones I first noticed on Monday morning.

cozietoesie Wed 17-Apr-13 13:28:24

You should be OK then. Get a bit Stepford Wives with the hoovering and if you want, you can get some household spray from the vet to have in reserve.

Fleas do seem to choose some people rather than others. Like other insects such as midges.

I can give no advice on how to deal with your DM's house because it seems to me that there are likely a number of issues there. I wouldn't be going to stay there though if I were you. Just in case.

juneau Wed 17-Apr-13 14:34:10

I'm a bit OCD when it comes to cleaning, so it's not a problem! While I was going crazy I also polished the silver, washed the filter on the hoover, washed the plastic drum, and cleaned the sludge trap and the detergent drawer on the washing machine. I defy any fleas to survive that!

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