How Do Cats Get Fleas?

It seems to be a given occurrence: pets that spend time outdoors will eventually get fleas. But understanding just how your cat became infested with fleas will help you find the best flea treatment for your pet.

How Do Cats Get Fleas?
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From Other Animals
The most common flea that cats get is the called the cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis. However, according to "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook," this is also the most common flea on dogs. Cat fleas can be found on humans, rodents, rabbits, bovines and birds. The adult flea uses any animal as a means of transportation from one blood-rich site to another. Any animal containing an adult flea can jump from one warm body to another. Conceivably, even a human being can unwittingly transport an egg-laden adult flea to a cat just because they passed an area with waiting fleas.
From Flea Eggs
Fleas lay their eggs on the bodies of their hosts, but the eggs soon fall off the animal to land in soil, on plants, in animal stalls or floorboards, in bedding, furniture and carpeting. According to "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook," female flea can lay an average of 2000 eggs in her lifetime. The female flea needs blood to make fertile eggs, so she stays on the animal host and lays as many eggs as she can every day for several weeks. Flea eggs are incredibly durable. A fertile flea egg cannot be destroyed except by catastrophic means such as a fire. However, there are many pesticides that can kill flea larvae and adults. This is why flea treatment needs repeating about two weeks later to kill the larvae of eggs that hatched after the initial treatment.
From Infected Bedding
Flea eggs, flea larvae, flea pupae and adult fleas often hide in bedding, old houses, gardens and even fuzzy cat toys. Before moving into a new home, be sure the home has been cleaned for fleas. If buying used cat furniture, cat beds or human bedding, treat for fleas. If buying an old barn, treat for fleas, because flea eggs could be in the soil or any old straw, sawdust or hay. If treating a cat for fleas, the bedding, carpets, furniture and other pets also need to be treated for fleas as well. If possible, do not let your cat come into contact with wild animals or stray dogs and cats, which almost certainly will carry fleas.
Resources
reference
Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Delbert G. Carlson; 1999
reference
Fleas on Dogs and Cats and What You Can Do About Them by Manette Kohler, DVM
reference
Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Debra M. Eldredge, DVM; 2007
resource
Flea Control: Keep Fleas Out of Your Cat's Life and Yours