What are the signs my cat has fleas?

Fleas love finding warm, welcoming homes.

Unfortunately, your cat’s coat is one the most homely environments they’re ever likely to find. 

Once fleas make the jump to a cat, they’ll begin feeding almost immediately.

Flea bites can cause severe irritation, and in more extreme cases can lead to felines developing allergies.

Despite popular belief, nasty pest infestations are not confined to outdoor felines with indoor cats just as likely to attract these unwelcome visitors. 

Fleas will make the life of any cat they infest unbearable, which is why pet parents need to be aware of the signs.

The main signs your cat has fleas

  1.  Increased scratching. Imagine an itch you can’t reach. Now imagine these itches appearing all over your cat’s body, regularly. Flea bites can cause a cat’s skin and fur to feel excruciatingly itchy, which will often lead to them frantically scratching at their body with their paws as they attempt to bring the irritation under control. 
  2. Excessive grooming leading to hair loss. Cats love to groom, but this act of self-cleaning can quickly get out of hand if they’re dealing with a flea infestation. You may notice your felines repeatedly licking and chewing certain areas of their body in hope of soothing the itching sensation. If allowed to continue grooming themselves excessively, it is highly likely bald patches will begin to appear around the affected areas.
  3.  Rashes appearing on their bodies.  Some cats can suffer such extreme reactions to flea saliva that their skin will become red and inflamed. This is called flea-allergic dermatitis and can result in extremely painful skin wounds on their back, neck and face. These can be difficult to spot from afar – although they will most likely be accompanied by excessive scratching and restlessness – so if you do suspect a problem, try to carry out a gentle inspection by slowly brushing back their fur.
  4. Your cat has become stressed, anxious or irritable. Fleas are irritating enough to drive anybody mad, even the calmest of cats. If you’ve noticed a change in your usually relaxed and peaceful feline’s behaviour – maybe you’ve started seeing a more aggressive side to them, or they’re constantly unable to settle –  it may be because they’re dealing with flea attack after flea attack. 
  5. They’ve started avoiding certain areas of the house. Fleas can get everywhere. If your feline is suddenly staying away from rooms they used to spend a lot of time in, this could be a sign that the area, or a piece of furniture, is a hotspot for fleas. Carry out a thorough inspection. Treatments can be bought to tackle flea infestations in carpets, beddings, and upholsteries. 
  6. Muscle loss and sudden fatigue. Fleas can do more than just irritate your cat; they can cause severe illness. If a large number of fleas are left to continually feed on your feline, they can draw enough blood to cause anaemia. Symptoms will include muscle loss, tiredness, rapid breathing, and if left untreated can result in severe ill health. 
  7. You can actually see the fleas on your cat’s body. Fleas aren’t the biggest of insects but that doesn’t mean you can’t see them. They’re reddish-brown with black legs and if you look closely you will be able to see them crawling around your cat’s coat, if they’re there. They tend to be attracted to the lower back, legs, and stomach region, so perform regular checks there if you’re concerned. Another sign of infestation is ‘flea dirt’. This is what fleas leave behind, and it looks a lot like pepper, so keep an eye for this too when you’re examining their coat.


All cats are susceptible to flea infestation regardless of age, breed, or gender. While a lot of the symptoms are noticeable, some can sneak under the radar, and it is vital when dealing with fleas we handle the problem swiftly and effectively. Thankfully, there are a wide range of flea treatments available. However, if you find these only offer a temporary solution, and the fleas carry on returning, you are best making an appointment with a vet. 

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