Blue Cross is urging owners to contact their vet if their pet needs treatment after a cat came into the charity’s care having been shaved in a desperate bid by an owner to get rid of an infestation of fleas.
Seven month old ginger tom Ronnie was brought into Blue Cross in Torbay, Devon, for rehoming as the owners could no longer keep him.
The rehoming centre said 90% of the cats that had been brought into them this year had flea infestations as owners had not sought vet advice or used the wrong treatments.
Owners often think the colder weather means fewer fleas, but in fact flea eggs brought in on pets from outside can live dormant in our homes for up to a year and wake up once the central heating is turned on.
Research by Blue Cross found just 34% of pet owners contacted their vet for flea treatments, with 55% buying from supermarkets and online. Meanwhile 40% admitted to not treating their pets for fleas regularly.
Claire Stallard, Behaviour and Training Manager at Blue Cross, said: “Most cats will find being shaved or clipped very stressful. We’d always urge owners to seek professional advice before attempting to trim their pet and would certainly never advise it as a way to combat or control fleas.”
Blue Cross is a national pet charity which offers low-cost vet treatment to owners who are in receipt of certain means-tested benefits and live in the catchment area of one of their animal hospitals or pet care clinics. The charity also works with PawSquad which offers online vet consultations 24 hours a week 7 days a week.
Alison Thomas, Head 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 attempting this in the home setting.
“The best way to manage a flea problem is to treat all cats and dogs in the household with a suitable product on a regular basis, combined with treatment of the home environment (usually with a spray designed to be used in the house).
“We understand that pet owners may have struggled to get access to veterinary advice this year, however prescription flea products from a veterinary practice are likely to be most effective.
“It is worth noting that flea collars are usually unsuccessful in getting rid of fleas and a small number of cats may develop a skin reaction to them.
“Where over-the-counter treatments are used, ensure you are buying an appropriate product for your pet – some dog treatments are unsuitable for cats and many treatments are designed for a particular size or weight range.
“Management of fleas becomes particularly important in young puppies and kittens as heavy infestation can result in severe illness and even death.”
Ronnie has since been rehomed by Blue Cross Torbay centre manager Laura Boyle and lives with her and her daughter and their dog Penny.
Laura said: “He’s doing great and is really loving life with us.”