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Dr. John
Dr. John, Texas Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 11363
Experience:  Over 14 years of clinical veterinary experience
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Cat scratches a lot and tiny black specks come off all over

Customer Question

Cat scratches a lot and tiny black specks come off all over the place. When these specks are put on a damp paper towel, it turns red [bloody]
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Using the wrong medication for fleas can be dangerous. You should definitely talk to the Veterinarian. What is the cat's name and age?
Customer: Tabby. About 5 years old. It is actually affecting all four of our cats.
JA: What is the tabby's name?
Customer: Tabby's name is*****: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Tabby?
Customer: No. She and the others scratch a lot and often
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. John replied 1 month ago.

Hello. Thanks for writing in. My name is***** and I would be happy to help you. I am not set up to do phone calls but would be happy to answer any questions you do have online. What you are seeing is due to fleas. Those black specs are called "flea dirt". They are actually flea fecal matter. It turns red on a paper towel because it is basically digested blood. You may never see the fleas on them, but it sounds like you have a bad infestation. First and foremost, all cats need to be on a good flea preventative. The best and most efficient options for killing these fleas and getting this under control is to get them on Comfortis every month (oral preventative only available through your vet) or Bravecto every 3 months (topical preventative only available through your vet). Other preventatives will not kill as fast or be as efficacious through the entire treatment period. You also need to treat the yard and house for fleas. 95% of the flea population are the immature forms you never see. You have to break that life cycle in order to get it under control. That is why the speed of killing and maintaining that efficacy through the treatment period is so important. In addition to treating the yard and home (either get an exterminator or supplies from some place like Home Depot), vacuum all carpets, furniture, rugs and under furniture daily for 1-2 weeks and empty the vacuum outside. It will take 2-3 months to get fleas under control doing this. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. Hope this helps.

My goal is to make sure that you get all your question answered and all the information you need. IF YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH MY ANSWER, PLEASE RATE IT. Rating it is the only way I get compensated for helping you, and we can still continue our conversation after rating. If you feel like it is not helpful to you, or if there is more information you need, please respond back to me before rating. Asking more specific questions usually helps a lot. Realize that our conversation is not intended to diagnose or treat a condition. There has to be a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship established with an exam, according to law. You should always follow up with your vet.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
You say it is fleas but we don't see any fleas. we have used diatomaceous earth on all floors, carpets and the cats
Expert:  Dr. John replied 1 month ago.

I understand that you don't see any fleas, and I am not surprised you don't see them. You typically do not in cats. They groom so fastidiously, that they end up ingesting them. Look at their feces or around their anus for anything that looks like an oversized piece of rice that is moving or sesame seeds. These are tapeworm segments that are transmitted from ingesting fleas (if you do not find any, that doesn't mean anything). Those fleas are there, though. That black dirt doesn't come from anything else but fleas. Diatomaceous earth does a questionable job of controlling this. I may work in mild cases, but in bigger infestations, it just doesn't cut it. You need better control than it can offer. Let me know if you have other questions.

My goal is to make sure that you get all your question answered and all the information you need. IF YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH MY ANSWER, PLEASE RATE IT. Rating it is the only way I get compensated for helping you, and we can still continue our conversation after rating. If you feel like it is not helpful to you, or if there is more information you need, please respond back to me before rating. Asking more specific questions usually helps a lot. Realize that our conversation is not intended to diagnose or treat a condition. There has to be a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship established with an exam, according to law. You should always follow up with your vet.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
IS THE $28.00 IN ADDITION TOTHE $26.00?
Expert:  Dr. John replied 1 month ago.

It shouldn't be, but I am not sure what you are referring to. The Experts do not see any information on the charges to customers. Sometimes it pops up an offer for a phone call that may be more, but I am not able to make phone calls anyway. If there is an additional charge on there, make sure to let me know, and I will forward that to the moderators to make sure they get it straightened out. Hope this helps.

My goal is to make sure that you get all your question answered and all the information you need. IF YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH MY ANSWER, PLEASE RATE IT. Rating it is the only way I get compensated for helping you, and we can still continue our conversation after rating. If you feel like it is not helpful to you, or if there is more information you need, please respond back to me before rating. Asking more specific questions usually helps a lot. Realize that our conversation is not intended to diagnose or treat a condition. There has to be a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship established with an exam, according to law. You should always follow up with your vet.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
WHAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND IS THATI I DON'T SEEANY FLEAS ANYWHERE, EVEN ON ME OR MY CLOTHES.
Expert:  Dr. John replied 1 month ago.

The primary host for those fleas are usually cats. They prefer to be on the cats. With 4 cats around, there is enough to go around for all the fleas that they won't usually get on any humans. Sometimes finding the fleas is more difficult than you would think, so I never base my diagnosis of fleas just on seeing them. Remember, only 5% of the flea population are the adult fleas you can see. If there is that dirt looking substance or skin lesions primarily around the base of the tail; I know it is flea related 99% (100% if there is flea dirt) of the time. Nothing else produces those signs. That goes for dogs and cats but especially cats. If you flip up the hair on the back, starting at the base of the tail, the rear limbs, head and belly; you will eventually find one flea at least, but it can take some time. Plus, scabs around the neck are usually due to fleas as well. Let me know if you have other concerns.

My goal is to make sure that you get all your question answered and all the information you need. IF YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH MY ANSWER, PLEASE RATE IT. Rating it is the only way I get compensated for helping you, and we can still continue our conversation after rating. If you feel like it is not helpful to you, or if there is more information you need, please respond back to me before rating. Asking more specific questions usually helps a lot. Realize that our conversation is not intended to diagnose or treat a condition. There has to be a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship established with an exam, according to law. You should always follow up with your vet.

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

Hello. I was just following up to see how Tabby is doing and to see if you have any other questions.