At this time of year, it is important to keep up with flea treatments for your cats.

The ideal temperature for fleas is 70-85 F, 21-29 C, as they can breed faster in warm and humid weather. It is much harder to treat a flea infestation, which can take weeks or months to get under control, than to prevent it.

Although it is possible to buy flea treatment over the counter, this tends not to be as effective as a prescribed prevention through your vet. The cost might be a little more, but when offset by the cost of curing the problem, it is well worth it.

Fleas move round at great speed making them hard to spot. The best way to check is to place the cat on a sheet of white paper and comb it meticulously.

A fine tooth flea comb may trap one or two fleas but black specks of ‘flea dirt’ – flea droppings consisting of undigested cat blood – can usually be found on the paper. When placed on damp cotton wool, ‘flea dirt’ slowly dissolves producing bloody streaks.

Flea dirt, or white eggs, may also be found where the cat sleeps. Even if your cat is strictly indoors, they can get fleas via indoor/outdoor pets, outdoor animals at a window, or from your clothes. Tiny brown and wingless fleas are pint-sized jumpers whose visits breed itchy discomfort.

If you are faced with an outbreak of fleas in your property, it is best to use a flea spray to get rid of them from carpets and furnishing. Although frequent vacuuming can help to reduce numbers of fleas, it will not eliminate them. These products should never be used on the cat itself.

Fund-raising this month includes a Salisbury City centre collection on Saturday, August 10, from 9.30 to 2.30pm, and a Salisbury Guildhall Square Car Boot on August 18.

We are still trying to fill our volunteer feral manager post. The role involves going out and setting traps and to bring cats in for neutering and then releasing back into their original environment, maintaining a record system and checking out new placements.

Identification of neutered cats is a cut on the tip of one ear. If you would like to take this on, ring helpline 01722 664606.

Ali Theobald – Salisbury Cats Protection

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