Cats love to climb onto high places, such as second story balconies, rooftops, and even trees. They also love to jump off of these places.
If you live in a high rise apartment building, you may not realize that your cat has access to the outdoors. This means that he could easily get fleas from a nearby unclean balcony that has contaminated rugs, furniture, carpets or waste bins.
You should check his paws regularly for signs of fleas.
In this article, I’ll explain why cats can get fleas from balconies, and how you can prevent this problem.
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What are fleas?
Fleas are members of the insect order Siphonaptera.
They are dark gray or brownish-black parasites that live on animals and feed on their blood.
Fleas are small wingless insects with six legs and three body parts: an oval-shaped head, a thorax and a flat, segmented abdomen.
The adult female is about 1/16 inch long; the male is smaller.
There are many different types of fleas, including cat fleas, dog fleas, and human fleas.
Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are found in most areas where there are cats. Dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) are common throughout North America. Human fleas (Pulex irritans) are also found worldwide.
Cat fleas have four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
Adult females lay eggs on your pet’s coat, usually near the base of its tail. Larvae hatch out of the eggs and then molt through three instars before becoming adults. At this stage, they do not bite but may be carried to other places by wind or rain.
Cat fleas can survive for up to seven days without food.
However, they will die after two to five days if temperatures reach 95 degrees F or more.
The lifespan of a cat flea is about ten days and reportedly up to 2 months.
After this time, the adult flea dies and falls off your pet.
If you see dead fleas on your pet, remove them immediately.
Do not allow your pet to lick his paws. This could cause him to become infected with tapeworms.
Yes, cats can get fleas from balconies
Rats and mice are not the only pests that can cause problems in your home.
There are many other wild animals that can cause damage to your pets house and belongings.
Some of these animals include:
The list goes on and on.
If you live in an apartment building, you may be surprised to learn that cats can get fleas from second story balconies.
Cats have been known to jump up onto balconies or even climb down them.
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This is because they like to go outside for their daily activities.
When they do this, they often land on things such as plants, furniture, or even people’s shoes.
These areas can become infested with fleas if other cats or animals landed there.
The most common way to transfer fleas to people is through contact with infected animals, especially pets like cats and dogs.
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However, fleas can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as carpets, bedding, clothing, etc. that you bring to your balcony.
Why your second floor balcony offers perfect conditions for fleas
A cat’s natural instinct is to seek out warm places to sleep and rest.
Most cats will choose to spend time on the top level of your balcony.
They usually prefer to sleep on the roof where it is warmer than the ground.
Your second floor balcony provides the perfect environment for flea reproduction due to its warm temperature and humidity levels.
It is also easy for fleas to move around freely here since there are no obstacles blocking their path.
Clutter, such as boxes, toys, and other items left lying around on your balcony can provide more hiding spots for fleas.
Litterboxes, flea dirt, dusty floors and carpets not only provide shelter but also create ideal breeding grounds for fleas.
Fleas love to hide in dark corners or spaces where you don’t clean regularly.
Most of the time, balconies are free from natural predators of fleas like ants, snakes, spiders, and cockroaches.
Because of this, fleas can easily reproduce and multiply.
And if you leave plant matter lying around on your balcony, then you are providing additional food sources for fleas.
Flea bites can lead to illness
Fleas are parasites that live off the blood of animals.
They bite humans and pets alike.
Although some pet owners aren’t aware of this fact, fleas can be dangerous to our furry friends as well as the home dwellers. Fleas can cause allergic reactions and not only the irritation of the cat skin.
In fact, some people believe that fleas cause asthma.
While fleas usually don’t carry disease, they can still spread them to humans.
Also, fleas are carriers of tapeworms, which can lead to serious health issues.
People who come into contact with fleas are at risk of contracting typhus, trench fever, relapsing fever, and bubonic plague.
Unexplained itching is one of the first signs of a flea bite.
Itching can last anywhere from several days to weeks.
People who are allergic to fleas can experience more severe symptoms than those who aren’t.
Symptoms of a flea bite include:
- Muscle aches
- Swelling around the bite area
- Skin rash
- Erythema (redness)
- Eczema (skin inflammation)
- Loss of appetite
How to spot fleas on a cat
Determining whether or not your cat has fleas is easy.
You just need to look closely at your cat’s fur, inside and behind the ears, under the tail, and between the toes.
Look for small black dots that resemble specks of dust.
These spots indicate the presence of fleas.
Cats are very clean animals.
They groom themselves constantly.
Since cats are very curious creatures, they will explore every nook and cranny of your home for new places to play.
They love to roam around, but they don’t always pay attention to where they step.
They may walk right over something that could potentially carry fleas.
However, there are other things you should watch out for when looking at your cat’s fur.
If your cat has a lot of hair loss, this may indicate flea infestation. Fleas live off of blood and can cause severe itching.
Another sign of fleas is excessive scratching.
This is often accompanied by redness and swelling.
Finally, if your cat seems lethargic, he may be suffering from flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). FAD causes skin irritation and inflammation, making your cat itch and scratch uncontrollably.
How to treat fleas in cats
Cats are very sensitive creatures who are not fond of baths.
So when it comes to treating fleas in cats, one way is to use a topical treatment such as fipronil, imidacloprid, selamectin, permethrin, or spinosad.
Topical treatments work best against adult fleas, as well as help prevent flea eggs from hatching.
Most flea products contain an insecticide called pyrethrins.
Pyrethrins kill fleas by irritating their nervous system.
The problem with these types of insecticides is that they also irritate the eyes and nose.
When using any type of insecticide, make sure to read the instructions carefully before applying it to your cat.
Always follow the directions exactly as written.
The label will tell you how much product to apply, how long to leave it on, and what precautions to take.
Make sure to keep the treated areas dry after application.
There are many different types of flea sprays available.
Some contain insecticides, while others only have repellents such as DEET.
Spray the entire house, including furniture, carpets, rugs, and curtains.
Use the spray directly onto the pet’s coat rather than letting them lick it off.
Spraying insecticides directly onto your cat’s coat won’t kill all of the fleas.
That’s why most pet stores recommend combining a spray with another method of flea population control like brushing or vacuuming.
Brushing your cat regularly with a flea comb helps remove fleas from his coat.
Vacuuming removes fleas from carpets, furniture, and upholstery.
Flea collars are another option for controlling fleas in cats.
A collar works by releasing a pesticide into the air that kills the fleas.
Your vet can prescribe a flea collar for your cat.
Place the collar on your cat’s neck and clip the end so that it doesn’t fall.
These methods work well for indoor cats.
If you’d rather avoid giving your cat any medications, you can still help them fight off fleas. Another way to prevent fleas in cats is to keep them indoors.
This means keeping your cat inside during peak flea season (spring and summer) and outside during the rest of the year. But this isn’t practical for everyone. And it doesn’t work for outdoor cats.
Outdoor cats need a different approach because they spend most of their time outdoors.
So if you have an outdoor cat, you’ll need to give them a systemic treatment. There are many brands available, including Frontline Plus, Advantage Multi, and Revolution.
Prevent flea infestation in your second-floor apartment balcony
To keep fleas at bay, you need to use a combination of prevention and treatment. Prevention includes keeping your pet’s environment in the second story balcony clean and free of clutter.
You may need to ask your landlord to treat the common areas like the stairs, hallways, and parking.
Related: Can a Balcony Have Stairs?
But don’t forget about the balcony itself.
It needs regular cleaning too.
And if there are any cracks or crevices where pests could hide, seal them up with caulk.
Use soap and scrubbing brushes to remove any flea dirt or debris from the balcony floor.
Next, vacuum the area using a steam cleaner.
The heat from the machine will kill any fleas hiding there.
Sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, and mattresses are all places where fleas can hide.
You should always wash these items before bringing them into your apartment.
If you don’t clean them properly, fleas will still be able to hide inside.
Wash everything thoroughly with hot water.
Finally, sprinkle some citronella oil around the balcony or rub on your pets’ fur.
You can also put citronella candles around your home. It is effective against fleas, and doesn’t smell too bad either.
Cats can get fleas from a deck or even a balcony.
But if you have a cat that spends most of its time indoors, it’s unlikely that it will pick up any parasites from outside.
And if you live in an area where flea infestations are common, you may want to consider treating your cat for fleas regularly.
Eliminating fleas in your home is one of the best ways to protect your family from getting sick.
There are several options available for treating and preventing fleas as we have discussed.
Choose whichever method suits you best, and remember to follow the vet and manufacturers’ directions carefully.