Owning a cat… and their fleas

Since April, we have been on quite the adventure in cat ownership.  If you don’t remember, Lucci found us one April morning by sitting in my backyard and crying. He was such a tiny little furball of a cat, I really had no chance. I mean, how could I not fall in love? While I wouldn’t admit it then, he was pretty much mine the moment I decided to name him – Lucci after Luciano Pavarotti, for the way he developed an Italian concealer mustache after his curious nose led him to sniff one of my make-up bottles a little too closely. The name stuck, and so did the cat. And he became a member of the family.

We had all sorts of romantic notions as to what cat ownership meant. To us, owning a cat meant having this cute and cuddly ball of fluff always there for a lap cuddle, a purring kitty to love us unconditionally, and a sweet little face waiting for us at the window until we came home. And we had all that. This cat fit right in from the very beginning, and we constantly marveled at how lucky we were to have been found by such a mild-tempered, well mannered stray. I mean, the cat plays fetch of all things! I bought him a little tiny catnip-filled mouse that squeaked, and the cat went crazy! The mouse has since lost all its fur, and probably lost its squeak in the first week. But the cat won’t play with any other toy the way he plays with this one. I throw it, the cat tumbles after it and tackles it, and then he trots back over to me and drops it near my lap, ready for more play. It’s ridiculously funny.

Of course, what we hadn’t anticipated were the little downsides of cat ownership – namely, fleas.

Did you know that the female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, adding up to 500-600 eggs in a lifetime? Those eggs hatch and become little creepy, crawly larvae that feed off of flea poop. Flea poop is made up mainly of cat blood that has been sucked from your cat. Those larvae then spin into a cocoon called a pupa and can stay there for as short as a few days to as long as a few years. They hatch from the cocoon and become a flea, and the whole cycle starts all over again.

Basically, if you have a flea problem enter your house, it is more likely you will discover the answer to world peace before you totally and effectively rid your house of fleas.

I bathed the kitty with flea shampoo. I combed him with a flea comb. I sprayed every inch of my house with flea spray. I tried pretty much everything. Those little suckers lived on. We ended up moving (not because of the flea problem, but it was convenient nonetheless), and flea-bombed the place upon vacating. Having since armed my kitty with Advantage, my new home was safe from infestation. And I figured that a good sound bombing made the old place safe, as well.

Not so.

I received a call from the landlord two weeks later. She had sent in her maintenance guy to check the place out when we moved. He had walked into the house and was instantly covered with fleas. They tackled him and tried to pull him into their lair, starved for lack of kitty blood, most likely figuring that maintenance guy blood was good enough. He swatted at them, holding up crosses and garlic against the little vampire fleas, and barely made it out alive. He then called up the landlord and snitched me out (Remember the little “no cats” rule that every single tenant in my complex has ignored, judging by the multitude of kitties staring out their windows? Well now there was concrete proof that I had broken the rule). I mean, I felt bad. I was almost guilty of involuntary maintenance guy-slaughter. But really? He could have kept his mouth shut. I mean, look at the little kitty. He’s too cute to have to give away, killer fleas or not.

Thankfully, my beautiful and most wonderful landlord, who should get a raise from the management company, laughed the whole situation off, told me they’d handle it, and that as long as I ensured the cat was not a nuisance to the neighbors she would look the other way.

So Lucci is now totally flea-free, and so is our new home. Unfortunately, Lucci still had not gone through the obligatory procedure unofficially known as the “ball chop”. That’s right, Lucci was still fully endowed, and was becoming a man. A man kitty in a strange new place that smelled unfamiliar. An unfamiliarly smelling place that obviously needed a new scent.

A scent called “Eau de Lucci”.

Stay tuned for the next installment….


4 thoughts on “Owning a cat… and their fleas

Add yours

  1. Well, if nothing else, even the fleas that survived the bombing probably won’t survive long, as they can’t live/reproduce with human blood — they need animal blood to do their thing.

    But yeah…those little bastards are tenacious.

  2. If newly hatched adults remain inside the pupal cocoon, they can survive without a blood meal for several months and perhaps as long as a year or more.

  3. Cara: Scary isn’t it? That means you may think your house is totally free of fleas, but as soon as something triggers them to come out of that little cocoon, you’re back in the same boat as before. The lesson in this is to ALWAYS keep your cat protected by some sort of flea deterrant (Advantage being my favorite) even if you think they aren’t around any fleas.

    Str4y: He is pretty, isn’t he? We had the hardest time believing he was a boy, he’s so pretty.

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