You may have experienced being bitten by bed bugs at one point in your life. They feed on your blood and leave itchy and ugly red welts and marks on your skin. Our furry pets are no exception and can be similarly attacked by these critters.
How to get rid of bed bugs on cats?
Bed bugs are small, blood-sucking parasitic insects that primarily feed on human blood. However, they are also known to feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals like cats and dogs. Bed bug infestation in your cat and home can be a nightmare and should be addressed promptly.
These are some of the ways on how to get rid of bed bugs on cats:
1. Check your cat for signs of bed bugs and if possible bathe her.
Your cat can spread bed bugs from one room to another although she may not be infested. This is possible when she sleeps in her bed which has bed bugs and moves to another room or part of the house. What you can do to get rid of bed bugs is to brush your cat with a flea comb and check for signs of bugs or bites. If there are no signs you may skip bathing her. If you notice bites in your cat’s skin, consult your vet for the best treatment options.
These are the signs that your cat has bed bugs:
- your cat is constantly scratching
- excessive grooming
- the appearance of pink welts or spots that appear in clusters or lines
Bed bugs will usually attack or bite areas that do not have hair and fur and where they have easier access to skin. They cannot easily dig around fur. These critters will usually bite your cat in the belly, ears and certain parts of their legs. Cats with less fur are more prone to be bitten by bed bugs compared to long-haired ones.
2. Thoroughly clean your cat’s bed if it was the source of bed bugs.
Your cat’s bed is a probable source of bed bugs so be sure to thoroughly clean it. Wash it well in the washing machine preferably in high heat settings that should be above 120 degrees. Be sure to dry at high heat for at least 20 minutes. Cat toys should be sprayed with isopropyl alcohol to kill adult bed bugs and eggs.
Use a bed bug spray to get rid not only of bugs but the eggs and nymphs as well. Spray the cat bed and furniture like the sofa where your cat usually hangs out. Be sure to use only sprays that are odorless and non-toxic.
3. Use bed bug lures to draw them out of their hiding places.
Bed bugs are naturally attracted to carbon dioxide. You can buy bed bug lures or traps which release carbon dioxide and other chemicals to attract bed bugs away from sofas, beds and furniture.
Pros and cons of bed bug lures
- it may reduce the number of bites more than passive monitors
- it works on both tropical and common bed bugs especially if they are glue traps
- it can be placed anywhere in the home
- it runs out after some time and you have to buy more
- it does not always kill all the bed bugs like most regular bed bug traps
- it is usually more pricey than the passive monitor traps
4. Place and encase cat beds, mattresses and furniture inside tight plastic covers.
Encasing these things will keep bed bugs from invading them or if the bugs are inside these items they will not be able to escape. However, these bed bugs can survive for up to a year despite being trapped inside so make sure to use other measures as well aside from encasing furniture with plastic covers.
The use of pesticides like pyrethrins and pyrethroids are also known to kill bugs and other indoor pests. These pesticides flush bed bugs out of hiding places and eradicate them instantly. However, these may be toxic for cats and other animals so it should be used with supervision or better yet, seek the help of a bug exterminator company.
One common home treatment for bed bugs is diatomaceous earth. It is a non-toxic and all-natural barrier to bed bugs that kills and prevents them from spreading around the home. Be sure to wear a mask when using it for bed bug termination to avoid eye irritation.
These are the benefits of diatomaceous earth as bed bug treatment:
- it is all-natural as it is derived from fossilized sea creatures called diatoms
- it is non-toxic and safe to handle
- it works great with heat treatment
- it safely kills bed bugs by dehydration
- it acts as a mechanical barrier
- it is non-resistant and bed bugs cannot develop a resistance to it
- it has a long-lasting and slow-acting effect
Can bed bugs live on cats?
No, bed bugs do not thrive on a cat’s body and they do not live on their hosts unlike fleas and other parasites. However, they can still pester and bite cats just as they would feed on human blood. The result is the appearance of pink welts or spots around the bitten area.
Do cats attract bed bugs?
Yes, cats can attract bed bugs if there is an infestation nearby since a bed bug infestation cannot just happen out of nowhere. Bed bugs are usually attracted to two main lures which are carbon dioxide and body heat. They can find their way to a host by finding warmer places and following signs of carbon dioxide.
Cats as well as people and other animals give off or emit carbon dioxide which is why bed bugs can easily detect and find them as hosts. Needless to say, cats can help lure in bed bugs if there is an infestation in the neighborhood but if there is none there is no way to attract these bugs.
Also, cats do not carry bed bugs since these bugs are ectoparasites and live outside the host and do not thrive on the host’s skin. These critters prefer to live in harborages or places such as under the mattress and on crevices. They cannot cling to fur or hair and cannot burrow their way through it, thus, cats are not very good at carrying them.
Can cats transfer bed bugs from one place to another?
Yes, it is probable for cats to transfer bed bugs from one place to another although they cannot easily carry these critters. Felines may act as lures especially if they have access or if their beds are near doors and wall cracks where bed bugs may be present. These bed bugs may also hitch a ride on your cat’s collar.
Eliminating bed bugs can be very challenging since these bugs can survive up to a year without feeding. They can adapt to various temperatures and can exist in the smallest of cracks on walls, floors and furniture. While vacuuming and washing beddings and carpets may reduce infestation, most experts would vouch on extermination with the use of pesticides to totally eradicate the bugs.
Bed bugs can be pesky and annoying and cats are prone to be attacked by these critters. Protect your furry pets from being bitten by keeping them well-groomed and bathing them if necessary. Wash and vacuum her cat bed and other things thoroughly and use heat treatment to kill the bugs. The use of diatomaceous earth and bed bug lures are also helpful although pesticides are known to effectively eradicate these bugs.
Image: istockphoto.com / LewisTsePuiLung