Posted by: My Personal Vet | October 11, 2010

Don’t have fleas? Read this!

A long time ago, I read a study about cats and fleas. I can’t find the study now, even with Google, but here’s the gist: They took a lot of cats (twenty?) and put them in cat-safe but flea-tight cages. Some poor grad student counted out fleas and placed 100 of them on each cat. The kitties ate and slept comfortably overnight. The next day, they counted how many fleas were on each cat. Very very few.

The point is: Not seeing fleas on your cat does not mean you do not have a flea problem! Those little barbed tongues are exceedingly efficient in catching the little jumping bugs.

Even if you only see one, it means a whole lot more.  For every ONE flea you see figure:  55 eggs, 35 little larval worms, and 10 little pupae ready to hatch.  For EACH flea there are 99 flea stages.  Ick.

So, how to really tell?  Here are 5 simple tests:

  1. Do some nice grooming with a flea comb over a piece of white paper towel.  If you dampen the towel and it turns a rusty color, that is known as flea dirt or flea poop.
  2. Check your pet’s bed for the small larval stage or more flea dirt.  With 1 flea, there are 35 little worms.  You might need a magnifying glass but they will be wiggling.
  3. Wear white socks and walk around.  Especially where pets sleep or in corners that don’t get vacuumed.  The fleas will jump onto socks and you can spot them.  They can jump 8 feet!
  4. Ruffle around your pet’s neck and back fur to get them to move onto naked tummies.  You can generally see them easier there.  All you need to see is one flea.
  5. This is my favorite but I haven’t tried it.  Put out a large bowl and fill 3/4 full of water.  Shine a green nightlight into it. They jump for green, land in the water, and can’t get out.  Time-lapse photography also is fun to watch with this method!


  1. Oh boy! Have you ever started something. When next you are here, I was thinking you could flea comb Gata on a white paper towel. 🙂
    The only good news in this house is that the carpets and around the base boards were professionally treated with fleabusters. So, if they end up on the floor, It is unlikely they will grow to maturity. I like the green light and bowl, especially with the time lapse photography!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susanne Ford, Dr. Evelyn Sharp,DVM. Dr. Evelyn Sharp,DVM said: Don’t have fleas? Read this!: […]

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