Do Feral Cats Have Fleas In The Winter? (A Myth?)
If you are curious about feral cats, you may wonder how they deal with fleas in the winter or if these fleas can survive the winter…
Do feral cats have fleas in the winter?
Feral cats do have fleas in the winter. Fleas do not disappear in poor weather conditions they simply continue to hop from one animal to another and lay eggs to multiply regardless if it’s a feral cat or not.
So, now you know. But, how can you get rid of fleas on these feral cats? Do other domestic cats have fleas in the winter?
Can fleas live on outside cats in winter?
Fleas can comfortably live on outside cats in the winter. Regardless if they are feral cats or just domesticated and allowed out they can have fleas in the winter. These fleas will continue to bite their host and lay hundreds of eggs per day to keep them in circulation.
How do you get rid of fleas on feral cats?
The best way to get rid of fleas on feral cats is to use a fast-acting oral flea treatment (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad). This is because using flea shampoo is not practical for feral cats.
Flea shampoo is effective (click here to see if human shampoo can be used), so that’s not the issue. The issue is safely handling a feral cat to bathe the cat.
How do feral cats survive the winter?
Feral cats are known to survive the winter by finding any available shelter they can find. Such as an old deserted car, empty house, or even digging a deep hole to fend off the cold (Click here to see how cold is too cold).
In this context, they are very clever and resourceful. And, will try to make use of nearly any opportunity that they can get.
Should I feed a feral cat?
You should only feed feral cats (click here to see how their mother feeds them) if you can also offer them more, such as health care or a home. One meal may make you feel better but it won’t help them long term which is ultimately what they need.
What is a Feral Cat?
Firstly, what is a feral cat? It is essentially an abandoned/stray cat that typically avoids any human interaction. Basically, it is not used to humans and sees them as a threat. Hence the reason they avoid them.
Let’s be honest, wouldn’t you be scared of us, if you were as small as a feral cat?… Exactly…
How do feral cats deal with fleas?
They can’t deal with it. They have to live with the fleas. Unfortunately, the fleas will, in turn, lead to other issues, such as causing them to scratch their skin severely to create open wounds that get infected and lead to other diseases.
Now you know it’s not that easy for a feral cat just to use flea shampoo (click here for my top cat shampoos) let me explain what happens when a feral cat gets fleas, how you can help them if feeding them is a good idea and much more, keep reading.
What happens to feral cats that have fleas?
Unfortunately, the reality is, these cats do not deal with the problem. They basically suffer in silence and deal with the related symptoms and follow on issues that lead on from this.
Here is a list of a few of the problems they face:
- Scratch themselves until they cause patches and open wounds.
- Flies infiltrate these wounds and lay eggs.
- Fur loss: Due to repeated scratching, their fur won’t grow in areas, leaving patches.
- Tapeworm infections.
- Fungal and other related infections.
It sounds grim, I know. But this is the harsh reality of a feral cat. They have no idea how to deal with the issue. And, they do not have anyone that cares for them to deal with the issue.
What is the life-cycle of a Flea on a Feral cat?
The problem with fleas is, they multiply on a rapid scale. If you do not deal with the issue early on, it will quickly spread and cause an infestation in no time.
For that reason, for your knowledge, let me explain what their typical life span is…
First, there is an egg…
Firstly they start life as an egg, which is laid by the female flea, as you would imagine. It will end up falling onto a fabric surface or on your cat. It gets its nourishment and food from your cats dead skin, other fleas feces (lovely!) or any other related organic matter.
They grow into Larva…
In time, they grow and turn into larvae. Following this stage, they will eventually hatch and become adult flea (this sounds long, but it really isn’t for them).
At this point, they either live within your cat’s fur feeding on their flesh or hitch a ride on the nearest human (a host). If they latch onto a human, you probably won’t notice this, by the way, you will unwillingly transfer this bad boy to your house.
You unwillingly transfer this cheeky flea into your house
If the flea takes the route of using you as a host. You simply walk the flea right into your home (Click here to see how long they will live there), he hops off onto your cat and the cycle continues, over and over again. This is why many cat owners rely on flea collars or other types of treatment (Click here to see why I rate this one). If you end up using a flea treatment such as Frontline, just make sure you let it dry off fully to ensure it is effective.
How can you help a feral cat with fleas?
You may be thinking, well, I have heard enough, how can I help, right? Well, you can, let me explain. To do this correctly, you need to deal with the host (the cat) as well as the environment around the host.
If you do one without the other, there is no point. Why? Because these little scoundrels will just grow in the neglected area. E.g. You clean up the feral cat and leave their environment. All that will happen is the cat will get infected again from its contaminated environment, are you with me?
If you really want to help the feral cat, you need to really take the cat into your house. While he is free it will be a perpetual cycle. Wouldn’t be worth your time in the first place.
Once you take the cat in, you can consult your vet on what flea treatment he recommends.
Why are Feral Cats Susceptible to disease and infection?
You may be thinking, why are these feral cats always picking up these diseases and ailments? Well, let me take some time to explain this now.
The short answer to this is their environment. They tend to live in abandoned houses, dumped cars, etc. Places where rats and vermin are rife. They even routinely eat from rubbish bins.
As you can see it’s a recipe for disaster. They face a contant cycle of disease, infection, and reproduction. Each kitten is born into the same environment and the cycle continues.
In addition to this, their life span is often quite short. You can expect them to live as little as 2 or 3 years in these conditions.
Is it a good idea to feed these Feral cats?
If you see one of these cats out in the wild, there is a chance that you may feel sorry for them and attempt to feed them to ease your conscious. Some owners even buy outdoor feeders for feral cats (Click here for my best ones). But is this the right thing to do?
To be honest, no it’s not. Although it may make you feel better, it doesn’t address the real issue. It’s similar to feeding a homeless person one meal or giving them some coin. Yes, they will appreciate it, but does it really solve the root cause of their problems? No.
To really help, they need to be taken in and nursed back to health. This will break the vicious cycle and make a difference.
On the other hand, if you throw them a sandwich, they will eat it, move on with their day, and have more kittens, and the cycle continues, are you with me?
In this section, I will answer some questions related to feral cat fleas. If you have a burning question that you need to be answered, that you can’t see covered, drop me a comment below.
Q: What other diseases or infections can feral cats pick up?
Unfortunately, feral cats are subject to many diseases, for reasons discussed earlier. It is not limited to fleas. To help you get a feel of these, let me explain them now:
You can usually see some obvious symptoms for this one. Typically the cat will scratch and shake its head. To be honest it will usually look quite excessive. These ear mites cause some serious irritation.
The good thing is, they are not lethal. But they are still very painful and frustrating. In some cases, they may even draw blood and scratch themselves quite severely.
These parasites come in a few different forms. Such as Coccidia and roundworms. These annoying scoundrels lay dormant in the cat’s system. You may find that they may suffer from diarrhea at this time, which is a known symptom.
Q: Do all feral cats have fleas?
Many people may assume that all feral cats have fleas. To be honest it is a fair assumption because it is quite a common issue. However, no they do not all have fleas. But, the chances are they do.
The reality is, even an indoor cat can get fleas (click here to see how to get Flea Dirt off your cat). The reason for this is because of the way fleas work. Remember earlier when I talked about the flea life cycle? Well, this is the reason why. They travel from one place to the next using innocent bystanders, in particular, you. So, they can multiply and reach many unexpected areas.