Dear Chester’s Friend

Dear Tabby,

My cat, Chester, loves to sunbathe out on our porch, but isn’t really an outdoor cat besides that. We’ve never had problems with fleas but our vet keeps telling us to put him on a flea preventative. He’s never had fleas before & he stays right by our house so I don’t know if it’s worth it to do the flea stuff. How necessary is it really?


Chester’s Friend

Dear Chester’s Friend,

It’s lovely that Chester has a safe space in the yard to take in nature and soak up some sunshine. When it comes to fleas, it’s important to know that they are evolutionary marvels. They’ve been around since the time of the dinosaurs! It’s safe to say that fleas are sneaky, persistent, and they are survivors. Fleas can present significant challenges to cats, other pets, and people. Fleas transmit intestinal parasites, blood borne dpathogens like plague (no joke!), and they cause anemia, itchy dermatitis, and fur loss. Going outside is a risk factor for encountering fleas, but Chester doesn’t even have to go outside to encounter a flea. Fleas can ride into your home on your clothes, they travel on pests like rodents, and for those of us who live in condos or apartment buildings, it’s easy for fleas to travel from one unit to another. Moreover, fleas thrive in our temperate and moist Pacific Northwest climate.

Those who have dealt with a flea infestation know that it can be difficult to quickly eradicate them once they get a foothold. So when it comes to fleas, our philosophy is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In fact, it can cost thousands of dollars to eradicate a flea infestation in your home; this compared to the cost of flea prevention which can run $2000 over the course of a cat’s entire lifetime. Suffice it to say, it is easier and cheaper to prevent fleas than it is to retroactively deal with a flea problem. The best way to prevent fleas in the first place is to maintain Chester on a flea preventative such as over-the-counter Cheristin, Activyl, or Advantage II. Prescription flea preventatives such as Revolution, Comfortis, and Bravecto are available through Chester’s veterinary clinic. It’s also important to know that as with any medication, there is the potential for side effects. Fortunately, this is extremely rare with today’s flea medications. The most common side effect, though still uncommon, is a small amount of fur loss at the point of application if you are using a transdermal, topical flea preventative. Oral flea preventatives such as Comfortis do not have the potential to cause fur loss because they are given orally versus topically. Here’s to Chester’s good health!


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