Last updated: January 30, 2017
The short answer to this question is yes, humans can get cat fleas. In fact, cat fleas LOVE human blood! As I think I’ve said before AT LEAST a hundred times – I hate fleas. I cannot see what good they do in the great scheme of things. I mean, what are they FOR, apart from to irritate the sanity out of you? Nevertheless, they are here because Mother Nature has decreed it so in her infinite wisdom, so we just have to put up with them. Can humans catch cat fleas? The unfortunate answer is yes, they can. So can your carpets, curtains, sofa, bedding and clothes. So let’s explore the world of the flea for a moment. Maybe we’ll get some answers!
Life Cycle of a Flea
Cat fleas are responsible for most infestations of our houses in temperate climates. The trouble with cat fleas, and fleas, in general, is that once you get them, you not only get the flea itself, but its children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Feeding on you and your cat is only part of the life cycle. There are eggs, larvae, and pupae to consider, each one a problem in itself. The pupae can hang about dormant for up to a year – eek! Then, if it senses the vibrations made by a potential host, out it pops to have a feast, and before you know it you have a flea population the size of China on your hands (and everywhere else!) A female flea needs a blood meal before she can lay her eggs and if she can’t get one she’ll die without having babies! The trouble is that Mommy Flea can lay up to twenty eggs at a time, and they’re mostly deposited in dark and secret places like your carpet fibers, soft furniture, beds, and of course, cats. The habits of these creatures are cunning in the extreme. They have irritation down to a fine art, and because they have very thick skins, it’s extremely difficult to get these unwelcome and uninvited guests to move out!
If you don’t get rid of them at this stage they will hang around to start another generation, so you really have to completely de-flea your house several times over, as well as your cat, of course!
Anatomy of a Flea
Fleas can’t fly, but that doesn’t really matter, but because of their extremely strong and well-developed hind legs they can jump like gold medal Olympic athletes, they can effortlessly make the leap from one host to another. Once it’s on the fur or hair of the next victim, it’s extremely difficult to get them off, because they have barbs that point away from the head all over their skin, as well as an extremely hard exoskeleton. They can burrow into the fur easily, but when an attempt is made to remove them, the barbs are caught and lodge even more tightly. (These little monsters think of everything!)
Signs of an Infestation
You may see your cat scratching excessively or even wearing bald patches in his fur. In some instances, you can even see the fleas crawling on his fur. Red and black spots are flea excrement, and you, your cat or both of you may be allergic to this. Though flea bites themselves are less dangerous than the bites of other animals such as spiders and are more of an irritant than anything else, they can transmit very nasty viral and bacterial diseases. Fleas have even been known to pass on tapeworms, and you really wouldn’t wish those on your worst enemy! The habits of these creatures are cunning in the extreme. They have irritation down to a fine art, and because they have very thick skins, it’s extremely difficult to get these unwelcome and uninvited guests to move out!
For the Cat
So now that you’ve got them, how do you get rid of them? Easier said than done. When you have a flea infestation they more or less colonize your whole house, and you don’t want the expense of an exterminator on your hands!
First of all, go to the vet and get his advice. He’ll give you the products that HE recommends for your cat – rather do that than pick up the cheapest one out of the supermarket. Then use them, reading the instructions carefully and following them to the letter. You may have to do this a few times since it takes weeks for several generations of fleas to be exterminated. Use a very fine toothed comb to dislodge the fleas. These work because the teeth are so close together that the fleas can’t escape. Take this seriously, please. Many cats and kittens can die of infection and anemia because of flea bites.
For the House
Clean, then clean some more, and when you’ve finished that, clean even more just to see that you’ve got the job done properly. This is not a skirmish, nor a battle – this is full-scale WAR! Pet beds, your own beds, sofas, carpets, curtains, these nasty little guys get everywhere, so give them no place to hide. Remember that if you’re vacuuming your carpets or sofas you must put a new bag in every time so that any freeloaders still hanging about in there will be shown the door. I’ve found that a good treatment is to sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) on carpets and soft furnishings. (This also works for bedbugs!) This product is made of finely ground fossilized sea shells, and they have sharp edges that rip the fleas apart. Also useful are borax crystals and salt, both of which dehydrate the fleas. They work in about 24 – 48 hours. There are plenty of commercial products in the hardware shops and online too, but whatever you do, get the fleas right out of the house. If you don’t they’ll come back again!
Effects on Humans
Many of us will get flea bites and not even notice till they start itching, but once we start to scratch these bites can not only bleed badly but get infected, so slap on a bit of antiseptic as soon as you can, then put a soothing ointment on the itchy bits, followed closely by a sticking plaster. If you have any further problems, visit your doctor.
To save yourself a lot of grief remember that prevention is better than cure, so give your kitty a flea treatment at least once a month. Fleas are very persistent – they just love being our guests, so just shut the doors in their ugly faces and don’t let them in! And if your kitty is the cause of all these problems – it isn’t his fault – so love him anyway!