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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15169
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat keeps on sratchingand i notice where he lays tiny red

Customer Question

my cat keeps on sratchingand i notice where he lays tiny red dots
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.

I am very sorry to hear that you are seeing tiny red dots where your kitty has laid.

I suspect what you are seeing is flea dirt or flea feces. This can look like black pepper in the coat, or it may be rust in color, and if your kitty is licking and it gets wet then you will see tiny red dots because flea feces is digested blood. If you look on your kitty it is generally found in highest concentration along the back at the base of the tail or around the neck. If you take some of it and place it on a wet white paper towel or Kleenex and rub it will dissolve and look red or brown.

Here are some links to pictures of flea dirt. The first is on a kitty and the second is the dirt on a wet gauze pad showing the reddish color:

1) http://www.fleabites.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/flea-dirt.jpg

2) http://arlingtonvet.com/files/flea_dirt.jpg

It sounds like you are using flea control products. Some are better then others.

Flea baths while effective to kill the fleas on them, have no residual effect and they are very drying to the skin and coat. So new fleas from the environment will jump on your kitty once Tommie gets out of the tub.
You can use effective topicals like Advantage II or Frontline Plus every 3 weeks in severe infestations if Tommie is healthy otherwise. I have heard from some that the flea population in the southeast (including Florida) is becoming somewhat resistant to Frontline so if you live in that area I would probably choose the Advantage products. The Seresto flea collar is another excellent option and has the benefit of 6-8 months of continuous protection. It is the only effective flea collar for cats.

Most of the preventative products available over the counter just aren't very effective and I would not waste your money on them. All pets in the home must be on flea prevention or the ones not treated become a flea reservoir.

Please realize that only 5% of the fleas live on your animals.

95% of them (eggs, larvae, hatching adults) are actually living on the environment. So if you have an active flea problem and don't treat the environment it will take a long time to resolve.

I recommend that you vacuum your home like crazy, throw away the vacuum bag in a sealed garbage bag and treat your environment with an effective area treatment like Siphotrol Plus II Premise Spray. It should be used every 2 weeks and no vacuuming for 2 to 3 days after using it to allow it to settle in. It has both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator so larvae and eggs don't mature. See this link for more information: http://www.drugs.com/vet/vet-kem-siphotrol-plus-ii-premise-spray.html

A premise spray is better than bombs because a premise spray can be directed into areas that flea bombs miss, like under cushions and furniture as well as along the baseboards where fleas and their eggs hide.

Of course you need to treat outdoors with a product that kills adults and inhibits development of eggs and larvae as well. Areas with direct sunlight will have faster degradation of products, and heavy rains will wash the product away so you may need to treat more frequently.

Even with effective environment treatment if Tommieis allergic to the bites the effects from the bites can linger for 3 to 4 weeks past being bitten, so it is possible that your kitty can react to previous bites for quite a while.

To control symptoms of flea bite allergy you can use a combination of antihistamines and high doses of omega-3 fatty acids. In combination fatty acids and antihistamines work synergistically, much better than either one alone.
You can try:

1)Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combinaton products with decongestants or acetaminophen as they can be toxic to dogs) at 1mg to 2mg per pound or one half of a 25mg capsule per 8 to 15 pound cat orally every 8 hours.

OR

2) Chlorpheniramine at 2mg to 4mg per cat once or twice daily.

OR

3) Zyrtec (Cetirizine hydrochloride) at a dose of 5 mg per cat given orally every 24 hours. Make sure it is NOT the formulation with a decongestant (such as Zyrtec-D) because cats cannot tolerate decongestants.

Combined with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids antihistamines work to relieve her itchiness. I like 3V caps or Derm Caps as they are reputable, high quality products. I recommend a dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give her 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example an 8 pound cat could take 160mg of EPA per day. These should help reduce the itch. Be aware that antihistamines can cause drowsiness or hyperactivity which should resolve with continued use.

Best of luck with Tommie, please let me know if you have any further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara