Vets warn of do-it-yourself treatments after a flea-infested shaved cat is in their care
The Blue Cross pet charity urges owners to contact their veterinarian if their pet needs treatment, after a cat was turned over to the charity after being shaved in a desperate attempt by a owner to get rid of a flea infestation.
Ronnie, a seven-month-old redhead, was brought to Blue Cross in Torbay, Devon, to be relocated as the owners could no longer keep him.
The placement center said 90% of the cats brought there this year had flea infestations because the owners had not sought veterinarian advice or used the abuse.
Homeowners often think that colder weather means fewer fleas, but in fact flea eggs brought in by pets from outside can lie dormant in our homes for up to a year and wake up once the central heating is on.
Research by Blue Cross found that only 34% of pet owners had contacted their vets for flea treatments, of which 55% were buying in supermarkets and online. Meanwhile, 40% admitted that they do not regularly treat their pets for fleas.
Claire Stallard, Behavior and Training Manager at Blue Cross, said: “Most cats will find being shaved or cut very stressful. We always urge owners to seek professional advice before attempting to trim their pet and would certainly never advise it as a way to fight or control fleas.
Luckily, Ronnie was treated successfully and has since been greeted by Blue Cross Torbay Center Director Laura Boyle, living with her, her daughter and their dog Penny.
Laura said: “He’s doing great and really enjoys life with us.”
However, Blue Cross is trying to get the message across that a vet’s flea treatment is the best way to keep your pet bug-free – and that you should never, ever shave a cat.
Alison Thomas, chief of veterinary services at Blue Cross, said: “Shaving a cat to get rid of fleas is very unlikely to be successful and there is a risk of causing trauma and even cuts to the skin when you try. this at home.
“The best way to deal with a flea problem is to regularly treat all cats and dogs in the house with a suitable product, combined with a treatment of the home environment (usually with a spray designed for use in the house).
“We understand that pet owners may have struggled to obtain veterinary advice this year, but flea products prescribed by a veterinarian’s office are likely to be the most effective.
“It should be noted that flea collars are generally not successful in getting rid of fleas and a small number of cats can develop a skin reaction to them.
“When over-the-counter treatments are used, be sure to purchase an appropriate product for your pet – some dog treatments are not suitable for cats and many treatments are designed for a particular size or weight.
“Flea management is becoming particularly important in young puppies and kittens, as a heavy infestation can lead to serious illness and even death. “
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