Did I just acquire fleas?
July 10, 2007 2:24 AM   Subscribe

Did I just acquire a infestation of mites and fleas and god-knows-what-else from a wild kitten?

I picked up a feral kitten and petted it for awhile before realizing it was teeming with fleas and maybe other bugs. Once I saw the disgusting bugfest on the poor thing's tummy, I put it back with its siblings. The kitten is part of a litter I've been getting together resources to trap and spay, but they are only about four or five weeks old and still nursing (their eyes only just opened), so I can't do anything yet.

The litter lives under my porch, so it is protected, but within reach, which is how my stupid self came to pick it up and foolishly bring it in my apartment for about a minute.

My worry now is that I just caught myself a case of the same bugs that are afflicting the kitten and his siblings. I checked my body repeatedly and found a flea on my calf which I quickly killed, and now I'm all freaked out that I might have caught any and all of the following: fleas, mites, ticks, or lice.

I washed the clothes I was wearing in hot water and took a long shower, shaving my legs and armpits. I haven't seen any other bugs since the flea I killed (pre-shower) and I'm wondering about the following:

Could the bugs I saw on the kitten be living on me, bugs not visible to my eyes? What can I do?
posted by Locative to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
Just to add: I have an experienced feral cat trapper who will be helping me shortly, so don't worry about the kittens -- they won't be suffering from the infestation for much longer.
posted by Locative at 2:25 AM on July 10, 2007

If you held it for less than a minute, I think it's unlikely that you've caught anything. A lone flea doesn't necessarily signify an infestation.
posted by Solomon at 3:03 AM on July 10, 2007

People lice don't live on cats and are visible.
Ticks are very visible.
Mites? Not in around a minute.

Did you see bugs other than fleas on your kitten friend?

See here for some tips on ridding kittens of fleas. Though calling a vet or the shelter about that would be smart.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:12 AM on July 10, 2007

Here's a good rundown of zoonotic diseases. Looks like your worst case scenario is scabies.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:26 AM on July 10, 2007

In case you're curious, these are the kittens.

The bugs I saw on the kitten were moving around too much to see well. I did recognize fleas, but there also looked like there were some reddish-brown bugs crawling around on there too. I hope I don't get scabies, but that sounds less terrifying than bubonic plague, which was mentioned on several sites in my Googling.
posted by Locative at 4:10 AM on July 10, 2007

You're fine.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:16 AM on July 10, 2007

My SO in her infinite mercy, once tried to help a feral cat. She was more or less immediately swarmed by fleas, but once her clothes were quarantined and washed she was fine and suffered no other kinds of infestation. I think you are fine.

It is unlikely you have anything unless the fleas got or can get into your house somehow. Once in, they are a pain to extirpate.
posted by MasonDixon at 6:56 AM on July 10, 2007

Scabies (mites) are probably right up there with the plague in terms of things you don't want (bad college experience, pleeeease don't ask). Happily, you almost certainly don't have them. Also, any itching you experience in the next month or so isn't mites from the kittens, since your body doesn't produce antibodies (the itchy part) that quickly--so it is just paranoia, really!

Good luck with your kittens, that stripey one looks like a troublemaker. ;)
posted by anaelith at 7:21 AM on July 10, 2007

A flea or two may have bitten you, but they don't live on humans. The bites are itchy but they go away. They tend to be small and red and don't swell up like mosquitos.
posted by radioamy at 8:07 AM on July 10, 2007

What preciousness-es! (Yes I know, not a real word ;-P)

Having said that, I fostered an underage kitty not too long ago that was a walking flea buffet! He was in my house for about an hour before I realized it and set about working on de-fleaing him. I was paranoid for a bit, but I kept myself and my clothes clean and had no problems.

Incidentally, if you do end up trying to de-flea them yourself before 8 weeks of age, citrus scented soap does wonders for that. I used my bath and body works lemon soap and it got rid of them without hurting him. He also smelled good enough to eat afterwards....
posted by arishaun at 3:07 PM on July 10, 2007

Follow-up: no, I did not get fleas or catch anything terrible from bringing in that little fleabag kitten for a few minutes. However, I did catch fleas by bringing in his little fleabag brother for the last few months.

Thanks for all the great advice, as always!
posted by Locative at 3:34 AM on September 13, 2007

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