Are you ready? Spring is springing and so are the fleas!

I remember the days when we had to bomb the blahooey out of the house, and powder the cat and get a new flea collar and wash all the things (including the cat) just to try to keep the population down during summer. They always came back, too. When I was a kid our cat, Snowball, (three guesses what color she was, and the first two don’t count…) was indoor-outdoor, so that was a big part of it. Outside are opossums and stray dogs and cats who are no respecters of backyard fences, all carrying fleas who are laying 40 to 50 eggs a day, rolling out of the hair like a teeny-weeny snowfall all the time. All the time. 40 to 50 eggs. Wheee!

Are you ready for the biomass? You are not. Yes, that’s what they call it, the flea doctors. Biomass. The sheer mass of eggs, larvae, pupae and newly emerged adult fleas, most of which we will never see. They hide waaaaaaay down in the carpet and bedding and couch, and if hardwood floors seem safe they are not. There are seams, grooves between planks in hardwood floors, and down there is where the eggs and the larvae and the pupae hang out. And newly emerged adults, just waiting for something warm-blooded to pass by.

Once on a pet, the egg-laying female (and the opportunity-seeking male) don’t leave. They have their meals on heels already, why jump off? They’re committed.

By the time we see a flea on our pets, there have already been eggs laid for a month or two, larvae hatched, pupae cocooning into the environment. They are already waiting. If a single monthly dose of flea control is missed on a single pet, there are legions ready to spring back into the life cycle and start it all over again. It takes at least one or two months to be sure all the life cycle stages have run through their paces. Until then we might still see adult fleas now and then, but their days are numbered as long as treatment continues without a break.

Since the bad old days of bombing the house (i.e. the 1990s), many new, far more effective treatment options have become available. Some work better or faster or longer – or can be used on younger or smaller pets – than others, and you can talk to your vet about which product is best for your pet. All six of my cats are indoors only, but I’ve been having to treat them anyway. I know other cats – and skunks and opossums and raccoons – roam through our yard, Tang yells at them very loudly. Then Kitou thinks Tang is yelling at him, so he yells back, and then the candles on my windowseat get knocked over.

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