How does a houseguest not bring fleas?
August 20, 2016 10:52 PM   Subscribe

I have a houseguest arriving next week. The house where she's currently catsitting has fleas. My house and cats don't have fleas, and I'd like to keep it that way. Anything we should do?

Future Houseguest has been bitten by fleas and found living fleas on her clothes and body this week. Future Houseguest is considerate (and reading this, hi Future Houseguest!) and offered do do things to prevent bringing fleas into my house.

She's not 100% certain where the fleas originated, as all cats involved are indoor cats and she hasn't seen any fleas on the cats she's looking after, but she thinks it's the house where she's staying this week. She'll be leaving that house, driving several hours to an airport, and flying cross-country to my house. She'll be arriving at my house in the middle of the night, so any anti-flea protocol that can wait until morning is best.

I have a porch where things can be left overnight. I know fleas aren't all that into traveling on humans, so we don't need to do bedbug-levels of prevention. She has a washer and dryer in the house where she is now, and I have one too.

Fleas aren't the end of the world -- I've lived with them before -- but I don't want to deal with them if I don't have to.
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Things to know about fleas
- fleas lay eggs
- flea eggs stay dormant on the floor, in the pet's fur, on the pet's bed
- dormant flea eggs can hatch any time in the next 6 months
- fleas prefer pets to humans
- good flea medications kill fleas around the clock for 30 days at a time.
- the current crop of flea medications are very effective (Advantage/Frontline/Revolution)
- older flea medications kill fleas for that one day, but then an egg hatches and the cycle starts again
- that means flea baths, flea bombs, products like Sargent or Topspot, are pointless

How to be flea-free
- Since you have cats, you should get them on Advantage, Frontline, or Revolution right away, before your friend arrives. That way, any stray eggs that hatch into fleas in your house will jump onto the cats and die.
- Your friend should run all her clothing through the washer/dryer before leaving.

If your friend wants to help, and the flea-ey cats' owners will accept the help, she can get Advantage/Frontline/Revolution as a present to those cats and put it on them right away to start reducing flea numbers. They will be so happy not to have parasites that make them itchy, drink their blood, and transmit tapeworms.

source: am veterinarian
posted by metaseeker at 11:09 PM on August 20, 2016 [31 favorites]

Fleas generally do not live on humans. They'll bite if they're near enough and hungry enough, but they won't hang around on your body like they will with pets. Which means that if all the pets in a household are treated with strong, effective medication (I personally recommend frontline from my own experience, but there are other good ones, ask your vet) then any fleas that happen across the home will die/not hatch/generally fail to thrive.

There's a nonzero chance of getting a few in the house, and seeing a bite or two, but if you get your cat on frontline (or its ilk) before your friend even shows up, it should be a non-issue.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 2:47 AM on August 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Well, here's what we do any time we return from a trip. When she arrives, leave her suitcase outside, wrapped in a garbage bag. Have a nice robe and pj's already in your house. Have her go straight to the shower, and take what she's wearing immediately to the washing machine. The next day, wash everything she has. Leave her suitcase on the porch for the entire visit, and sprinkle the inside with boric acid. When she packs to go home, shake out the suitcase and pack her clothes in a garbage bag inside the suitcase to keep what little powder is left from getting on her clothes. Send her home with a Baggie of boric acid and have her treat her suitcase again before she puts it away.

Boric acid is not harmful to you or your cars. This should work just fine.
posted by raisingsand at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2016

My experience with fleas, and I have some pretty serious experience, unfortunately, is that they don't ride on you for long. Like five or ten seconds. So, as long as your guest doesn't have them hiding in her bag, I'd be very surprised if you saw one at all.
posted by cnc at 10:30 PM on August 21, 2016

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