Fleas are every pet owner’s worst nightmare. These little critters have been causing pain for humans and animals for thousands of years and still do today. They love to wreak havoc on our poor pets and drive them crazy, and, of course, if our pets have fleas, they can transfer to other people and items in the house.
If you notice fleas in the litter box, there’s a good chance that they have already migrated throughout your home. But there is no reason to panic. At the first sign of fleas, it’s crucial to act fast. Use this guide to discover how to identify fleas and get rid of them.
Spoiler alert — fleas don’t just suddenly show up in the litter box on their own. Unfortunately, that means if fleas are present in your cat’s litter, it’s because your cat brought them there.
The first thing you may be wondering is, “Can fleas live in cat litter?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes; fleas thrive in humid environments like your cat’s litter box. The good news is, a flea family won’t just decide to set up shop in the litter box. If your cat has fleas, that’s when they start to proliferate within that space. Almost all the time, fleas are brought into the home from an outdoor environment. If your cat doesn’t have fleas, you shouldn’t find them living in the litter box.
Fleas are black, brown, or reddish in color. They are tinier than a quarter of an inch long and can jump 50 times their body length. To check your cat for fleas, use a flea comb to separate your cat’s fur so you can see her skin. Look for small, dark dots on her skin. These could be fleas if they are moving or flea dirt (waste) if the specks don’t move. You should also check for flea bites and red, irritated skin; watch to see if your cat is itching, scratching, and chewing her skin. Even if you see only a few specks, the problem may still be serious: One female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day. So, don’t underestimate the issue!
Fleas flourish in environments with relatively high humidity. Cat urine in the litter box creates a moist atmosphere that is ideal for egg hatching and flea growth. The flea larvae can then feed on your cat’s waste and the waste of adult fleas, which contains traces of your cat’s blood. The flea larvae will find a quiet spot in or near the litter box to build a silky cocoon. In three to nine days, the fleas will hatch and jump on your cat to feast.
Once on your cat, fleas consume your cat’s blood and mate with each other. Then they’ll lay eggs in your cat’s fur, which can fall out anywhere your cat goes. This is how fleas spread throughout your home. If you’ve seen them on your cat or in the litter box, there’s a good chance that they have infested your home. Fleas and their eggs could be lurking in your cat’s bed, on the furniture, or anywhere else your kitty likes to hang out.
Luckily for you, fleas are a common enough problem that there are plenty of treatment options and cleaning advice available. Some cat owners take the trash-everything approach. You can throw out your old litter box with the litter inside and replace it after you've finished your deep clean. While this will surely get rid of the fleas, it can be an expensive solution. Here, we will mostly focus on how to clean the litter box, but to totally eliminate the infestation, you need to get the cat as well.
Step 1: Clean your cat. First, you want to get the fleas off of your animal and her things. Talk to your vet about the best options for your feline. For clothes and blankets, you just need a warm wash and dry to do the trick.
Step 2: Clean the box. Start by dumping out the existing litter and sealing it in a plastic bag. Then vacuum the box to remove any pupae that may be clinging to the bottom or sides of the box. This will get rid of most of the fleas.
Step 3: Wash everything. Next, thoroughly scrub the litter box with hot water and a mild dish detergent. This should kill off any remaining fleas. Refrain from using flea sprays and other chemicals in the litter box as they can bother your cat and stop her from using the box.
Step 4: Get ahead of the bugs. To prevent future outbreaks, sprinkle some diatomaceous earth over the litter. It is harmless to your cats, but to fleas, it can be deadly.
Fleas are an annoying and destructive problem, but one you can fix. When fleas get in your cat’s litter box, they can multiply and make your cat miserable. But by following this guide, you can clean out your home and get rid of the little pests once and for all.
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