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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

One of my cats likes to drink from the bathtub. One day I noticed tiny red spots on the tub and the floor. I took her to the vet, who said that she most likely has a urinary tract infection. Now I’m giving her special food and amoxicillin for a week, but I still felt like it could be something else. While doing my research online, I came across the article on your website about a person who had a similar problem, and it turned out to be fleas. I went to check my cat’s fur and I saw black specks on her belly, and then I saw something crawling through her fur. Now I don’t know what to do. I’m heading to the store to buy some product, but I don’t know what’s the best and easiest way to clean the flea eggs out of my house. I stopped giving my cat the medicine, too — is that OK? I also have another cat and kitten, and they’re all indoor cats. Do I have to shampoo them all? Please help!

~ Nadia

An ear-tipped feral cat scratches an itch.

Cat scratching an itch, (CC-BY) by Wikipedia user Vannie

Siouxsie: First of all, Nadia, congratulations on finding your cat’s fleas. We’re surprised — shocked, actually — that your vet didn’t notice them.

Thomas: Running a flea comb through a cat’s fur is a standard part of every vet checkup we’ve ever seen, even in the case of a cat with a different illness or injury.

Siouxsie: The fact that your vet gave you drugs for a condition that your cat may or may not have makes us think that you really need to find a new vet! But we weren’t there at the exam, either, and if your cat had a fever, for example, your vet was justified in thinking an infection might be present.

Thomas: You shouldn’t stop giving your cat medicine without a veterinarian’s advice. It’s possible that your cat does have a urinary tract infection. We’re not veterinarians, and even if we were, we wouldn’t tell you to stop treating your cat without seeing her and examining her ourselves.

 Siouxsie: Now, about the fleas. In that column you read earlier, we gave some advice about how to handle the fleas in your home. It certainly is a labor-intensive process, but you may be able to avoid it by giving the proper spot-on flea treatments.

Thomas: First of all, don’t cheap out on flea products! It’s worth it to buy the good stuff (like Frontline, Advantage and so on) because those products are much more effective at killing fleas.

Siouxsie: Some of them even stop the eggs from hatching at all!

Thomas: We’d recommend asking the people at the pet store or your vet clinic about which products have been most effective this year.

Siouxsie: Here in the northeastern U.S., it’s been a crazy year for fleas and they’ve apparently been immune to most of the flea products on the market.

Thomas: But the people who sell the stuff will know what their customers or clients have said about the various gels and goops and they’ll be able to direct you to the product that’s most effective.

Siouxsie: You’ll have to give the monthly treatment for at least three months to make sure that any eggs in your carpets or furniture have had a chance to hatch.

Thomas: Keep in mind that if any of your cats weigh less than two pounds, you should get the lower-dosage product for them. Very young cats shouldn’t be dosed with the stuff at all because it can make them very sick.

Siouxsie: You can also buy a flea comb at the pet store and go through your cats’ fur with it. When you catch a flea in the comb, you’ll have to be ready to drown it right away. Keep a jar of water with dish soap nearby whenever you’re combing your cats, and as soon as you get one, dunk the comb in the soapy water.

Thomas: We would recommend that you keep to the regimen of vacuuming and laundering that we recommended in our previous column.

Siouxsie: We hope this helps, Nadia. Please get back to your vet and talk to him or her before you stop giving medicine.

Thomas: Good luck, and may your cats and home be flea-free.