How can an indoor cat get fleas?
September 8, 2013 8:48 PM   Subscribe

I have four cats. I just found a live flea on one of them. How can indoor cats (they *never* go outside) get fleas?

Could flea eggs have been carried into the house on my shoes or clothing?

I haven't bought any secondhand furniture or secondhand clothing...

Also: what is the best flea treatment? Advantage?
posted by Year of meteors to Pets & Animals (19 answers total)
Yep, if you're around anything with flea eggs and they get on you then you can bring them into the house. If you've been outside of your home and back in there's a chance you brought them in with you.
posted by theichibun at 8:50 PM on September 8, 2013

Mice. Squirrels. Bats. Feral/stray cats hanging out under your porch (ask me how I know). Coworkers/friends with animals. Any of the treatments your vet offers should work just fine.
posted by tllaya at 9:04 PM on September 8, 2013

My (now dead) cat caught fleas from my brother, who had a dog which had fleas. The dog never came to my house. Just the brother.
posted by brownrd at 9:05 PM on September 8, 2013

Yup, fleas hitchhike in on trousers and shoes. I have to treat my indoor-only cats with Advantage thanks to these pesky hitch-hikers.

Flea treatments: Frontline and Advantage are available without a prescription. You can only get Revolution with a vet's prescription. Thread on the Cat Site discussing Frontline, Advantage and Revolution.

Be sure and vacuum your carpets, if you have them, to get rid of flea eggs.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:28 PM on September 8, 2013

My indoor-only cats get fleas once in a while. The fleas hitch a ride in my overnight bag. When it happens I vacuum, wash my sheets in hot water, and put Advantage on both cats. I don't do the Advantage monthly, only when I notice the cats itching a lot which is usually in the summertime.
posted by icanbreathe at 9:33 PM on September 8, 2013

Could flea eggs have been carried into the house on my shoes or clothing?

Live fleas are more likely, in my opinion. Yes, fleas can ride on your socks. I once caught them jumping off my bare feet after I had been walking around in a house with a flea infestation. You can also get them on you from hiking etc.
posted by cairdeas at 9:35 PM on September 8, 2013

I have found spiders, lizards, potato bugs, bats, raccoons, mice, flies, and various other creatures that are supposed to be outside inside my house over the years. Sometimes animals just end up where you don't want them.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:38 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

My indoor cat has them too. They sneak in through the screened windows. I wash him with blue Dawn dish soap twice a week to control them, and comb the dead fleas out with a flea comb. Flea season should be over soon. It is bad this year.
posted by xenophile at 9:46 PM on September 8, 2013

My indoor cat once got them. The vet figured they just hitched a ride on some shoes.
posted by marylynn at 10:03 PM on September 8, 2013

posted by hortense at 12:40 AM on September 9, 2013

If there are critters with fleas in your yard or neighbor's yard, then it isn't too hard for them to get in your house. I like to do a spray with beneficial nematodes in the yard whenever the fleas are noticeable. This is a non-toxic way to cover your bases if you're having a flea infestation.

This always does the trick for me.
posted by dottiechang at 12:45 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I find a flea in the house (indoor only cat, and a dog that obviously goes outdoors) I usually hit the cat with one dose of frontline and vacuum the house really well.

My dog is on a monthly treatment but I only do the cat when I see them. Worked so far.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2013

My boyfriend's cat got fleas once from the apartment next door. The cat never went outside at all, not even on a balcony, but apparently just sitting at a window with the screen open, next to the neighbor's open window was enough.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:12 AM on September 9, 2013

This is the time of year for fleas, unfortunately. They hitch rides on socks and shoes and pant legs. Advantage worked on our indoor cats with mystery fleas a couple of years ago. And vacuum/wash everything. It's annoying but shouldn't be too bad if you treat it right away.
posted by katypickle at 8:18 AM on September 9, 2013

Where we live most of the topicals are useless. Fleas just don't seem to respect the authority of Advantage, Revolution or Frontline any longer. Our vet does not recommend the topicals since you'll eventually be back for Comfortis which works very well.
posted by 26.2 at 8:28 AM on September 9, 2013

We're pretty sure that squirrels nesting in the attic of our rental at the time were responsible for our first flea infestation, a couple of years back, and this summer's infestation was due to visiting relatives and playing with their dog, then carrying the fleas back home to the cats.
posted by telophase at 11:44 AM on September 9, 2013

This is gross, but I once lived in a basement apartment and an indoor cat. My cat got fleas, and the culprit was rats living in the unfinished basement room connected to my apartment.
posted by zoetrope at 1:45 PM on September 9, 2013

Once you notice the fleas, there are flea eggs about. I use flea powder on all rugs, leave it for an hour or 2, then vacuum. I usually do this several times during flea season. Bonus - flea powder kills eggs in the vac. bag.
posted by theora55 at 2:42 PM on September 9, 2013
Why does every article about obnoxious insects have to have large images of said critters? makes me itch.
posted by theora55 at 2:53 PM on September 9, 2013

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