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Dr. Scarlett
Dr. Scarlett, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4110
Experience:  I am a practicing small animal veterinarian with 18 years experience.
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My cat has small black bugs on her but she is not itchy

Customer Question

My cat has small black bugs on her but she is not itchy and shows no signs of being uncomfortable.

We noticed it a few weeks ago and at first we thought they were scabs flaking off and never thought much of it, but tonight we noticed that she has actual bugs at these spots.

What are they?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Scarlett replied 5 years ago.

Are you able to put some of the bugs on a moist, white paper towel and rub them around? Are the bugs found mostly on one part of her body?

Are you using any flea preventative on her? Are you finding scabs on her skin anywhere?

JACUSTOMER-8k1ef7o2- :
We were able to get one bug off her but it jumped or moved and fell off the tweezers. No preventative measures yet. We have found several scabs on her usually around her neck area.

Dr. Scarlett :
It sounds a lot like fleas, particularly if they are jumping off the tweezers. Very typical of a flea and they are fast little buggers! You may also find curly, thin black bits where your cat lays down or if you brush her hair the wrong way. If you put that on the white, moist towel and rub it, it should turn a rust color.

These curly black bits are the "flea dirt"--dried blood that the flea has digested.

JACUSTOMER-8k1ef7o2- :
Wouldn't she be itchy or bothered? She has been vomiting or having hair balls lately. Would these bugs cause this?

Dr. Scarlett :
Not all animals react to fleas by scratching a lot. Cats may over groom and thus have more hairballs) trying to catch the fleas or not seem to be bothered at all. Fleas do like to hang out around the neck and face (you can sometimes see them crawling across the less-haired area in front of the ear) or on the lower back.

The scabs you are feeling are likely an allergic reaction to the fleas, but again, you probably aren't going to see her scratching, it is just the skin's reaction to the flea bites.

JACUSTOMER-8k1ef7o2- :
My husband just went to get flea cleaner, shampoo etc for our cat.

What do I do about the rest of my house?

Dr. Scarlett :
I would get some Frontline on her (don't use any knock off brands). Treat her once a month for AT LEAST 3 months to help get rid of the fleas in your house. Flea shampoos are only useful while the lather is on the cat--once the cat dries, the fleas will hop right back on not to mention it is no fun trying to bathe a cat!

Do you have carpets or hardwoods in your house?

JACUSTOMER-8k1ef7o2- :

Dr. Scarlett :
I would get some Mule Team borax dry laundry detergent. Sprinkle it generously on the carpets and then work it deep into the carpet with a stiff-backed broom then vacuum and throw away the vacuum cleaner bag. The borax will help dry up the adult fleas and emerging larvae. You have to wait for all the eggs to hatch and that can take at least 3 months.

If you buy 3 doses of Frontline at your vet clinic, the company has a guarantee--if there are still fleas after 3 months, they will send an exterminator to your house. So something to consider.