Whether you've adopted a kitten recently or simply found one alone on the streets, you should know that fleas are a big deal. While fleas on an adult cat is something that no pet owner wants their precious kitty to go through, fleas are typically a nuisance that only holds a slight danger of becoming a major health problem for adult cats. For kittens, however, it's entirely different. Here's why you should take action right away if your cat has fleas and some ideas on what you should do about it.
When fleas bite a cat, they can trigger anemia, regardless of the cat's age. However, the problem isn't that kittens are particularly weak to anemia, but rather that they have less blood to begin with.
Kittens are very small. As a kitten ages, their body begins to produce more red blood cells so that there's enough blood circulating to support their adult body. However, as a very young kitten, they don't have anywhere near as much blood as an adult cat. This means that what could be shrugged off as only a few tiny bites on an adult cat could potentially drain your kitten of the majority of their circulating blood. When this happens, it's called severe anemia, and it can become a life-threatening issue.
Symptoms to Watch For
Without enough blood, your kitten will have difficulty circulating the oxygen through the body that it needs. Red blood cells carry oxygen, and if there aren't enough of them, it can trigger problems in your kitten like lethargy, panting, or just plain exhaustion.
If you think that your kitten has fleas, keep your eyes open for the above signs. You should also consider it a bad sign if your kitten loses its appetite, or throws up. While kittens with fleas always require treatment, a kitten with these symptoms may already be in a dangerous place, so contact a vet right away.
How to Beat Them
If your kitten is covered in fleas, get to the veterinarian right away. Your vet will be able to wash away the majority of the fleas with a bath and can then use a kitten-safe anti-flea treatment to prevent their eggs from hatching and the infestation from starting all over again.
Once your kitten's fleas are beaten, your vet will determine if your kitten is experiencing anemia. In severe anemia, a blood transfusion can get your kitten back to where they need to be. If it's mild anemia, some time and rest may be enough to do the trick. Your vet will base their decision upon your kitten's personal health condition.
Fleas should never be ignored on kittens, especially if you've rescued one off the street. With fleas on a feral kitten, they may already be very weak or ill, so get help from an animal care hospital as quickly as you can.