I’m not the biggest fan of the winter. It’s much too cold, and I find myself staying inside during the majority of my time off.
Our cats seem to share a similar distaste for the winter, migrating away from our windows, choosing to sleep closer to the heart of our apartment and onto objects like our backpacks, laundry baskets, and at night they always sleep by our feet.
It’s funny that both of our cats have been sleeping with us this winter since our youngest Kalista usually likes to be as independent as she can be, choosing to sleep alone on the couch or in one of her beds the majority of the time. Winter has gotten Kalista to change her mind on where to sleep, and while she is still a picky little princess, the idea of warmth is much more important to Kalista than her independence.
Other than our cats cuddling with us more frequently, my favourite thing about winter is that bugs seem to die out or at least visit us much less.
While we see fewer ants and virtually no “flying bugs,” there are still spiders crawling around our apartment, making their webs. But, which other bugs and creepy crawlers are still alive in the winter?
Every spring, our vet shoots all of their clients an e-mail letting them know that flea season is upon us, but what they fail to mention is whether or not fleas can be contracted during the winter.
So do fleas die in the winter? Can cats get fleas in the winter? How can we protect our cats from catching fleas? Let’s get crackin’!
DO FLEAS DIE IN WINTER?
No, fleas are hardy little parasites that do not die in the winter, similar to some of the bugs mentioned above.
Fleas can be especially scary in the winter because they do not hibernate but instead move inside to continue to breed and mate.
If fleas make it into your home, chances are you’re going to have a difficult time trying to get them out as fleas are known to love carpets, pillows, blankets, and couches.
Similar to bedbugs, fleas can be especially tricky to fully irradicate as they breed quickly and hide in the warmest areas they can find, which usually happen to be our lovely pets or even ourselves.
If a flea has a choice between choosing a human or an animal as a host, they will always select the animal first as animals are much warmer than humans are due to the amount of fur. Now, just because an animal’s coat is warmer than a human does not mean that you cannot contract fleas.
I guess I’m not completely honest when I say that fleas don’t die in the winter, because fleas that don’t make it indoor for the winter season will die outside if the temperature is low enough. The issue is, fleas are usually smart enough to migrate indoors to survive.
DO FLEAS MOVE AROUND ONCE THEY’VE FOUND A HOST?
Fleas will rarely move from their host once they have latched on, I mean, really who would?
Fleas get a neverending supply of food and warmth from their host, making any other options a lot less appealing. Once a flea has a host, they will begin laying eggs within 24-36 hours.
Fleas will lay around 50 eggs a day.
SO HOW DO FLEAS GET ON MY STUFF THEN?
Well, once a flea latches onto a host, it doesn’t mean that the flea can’t be scratched off or shaken off.
Fleas can be kicked off their host reasonably easily, so beware of your cat rubbing themselves against you or rolling around on your favourite objects.
The majority of eggs will not remain on the host and will essentially fall off into the surrounding areas.
TRICKS TO PREVENTING FLEAS
When preventing fleas, you must consult a vet, especially if you believe that the fleas are living on your pets.
Flea products that are found in pet stores are often too strong for our cats and can cause burns, lesions or other skin problems that will also need to be checked out by the vet.
At most, the only “at-home treatment” you should provide for your cat is washing them in a bit of Dawn Dish Soap, though again, a vet should still be contacted to ensure that your cat is completely clear of fleas.
As a general precaution, it’s a good idea to remove all soft materials from common areas and bag them so the fleas cannot get in or out. You also have the option to freeze said objects, though this may not be a requirement dependant on how severe the situation is.
If you are unable to freeze or hide soft objects, it is a good idea to vacuum said objects thoroughly to ensure that all the eggs are removed before they have a chance to incubate and hatch. Flea eggs often appear to look like very tiny grains of rice; however, it is not always possible to see said eggs.
Since flea eggs are sometimes challenging to see, you must be vacuuming these soft areas regularly, even if you do not see the eggs.
Flea eggs can be laid and hatch within a couple of days to two weeks. Multiple factors will help influence how fast the eggs incubate and grow. Some factors that affect the incubation time include heat and food sources.
Aside from vacuuming, it would be a great idea to wash your cat’s beds or any other objects your cat likes to sleep on. Hand washing should do the trick, though machine washing will make sure that the job is done thoroughly
So while fleas technically cannot survive the winter, years of trying to stay alive have lead fleas to migrate inside to find a host.
Fleas will remain in a home until the winter is over and will continue to breed throughout, so be careful and make sure that you are in communication with a vet to ensure that you deal with the problem quickly and efficiently.
In general, it’s essential that you keep your home clean, especially if you believe that you already have fleas as eggs are very easy to vacuum up or wash off.
I strongly recommend avoiding all flea products that you can find in grocery stores unless advised otherwise from the vet.
At the end of the day, as annoying as fleas are, they are relatively simple to get rid of, so don’t overstress yourself.
I’m curious though, how many of you have had fleas? Did they appear in the winter or the summer? What did you do to get rid of them? Let me know in the comments below!