Friday, June 15, 2007

My Dog Has Fleas

eine kleine background music while you read

The dog has fleas.
Curmudgeon cat has fleas.
Mom cat has fleas.
The weightless balls of fluff all have fleas.
I have fleas.

That last was confirmed yesterday. I was driving to work, waiting for the red light to change, when I noticed some little black specks merrily hopping around the front of my crisp white shirt. Oh, great. Now my car has fleas.

The front porch has fleas. I stepped out there yesterday afternoon and immediately my nether limbs, from knee bone to toe bone, were covered in little black specks. Little black specks that jumped on me faster than I could brush them off. Nothing to be done for that except step back into the house to brush them off. Great, now my carpet has fleas. I've always hated this carpet anyway. Maybe I can talk the managment into replacing it. With linoleum. Lemonade, right?

The Fab Five have only recently, in the past 2 or 3 days, expanded their range to include the bedroom. This afternoon when I got home I found patches kitten and tiger kitten sleeping in the folds of the squunched-up blanket. Oh now this is just dandy. My bed has fleas.

The dog kept me awake most of last night, squeaking and whining and panting in frustration as he tried to pick all the fleas out of his chow-thick fur. Curmudgeon cat and I will be spending Caturday morning at the vet, getting shots and drugs for his flea allergy.

Yesterday I stopped at the vet's on the way home from work and picked up enough Advantage for all of us. $107.

The vet asked first how old the kittens were [they have to be 8 weeks for Advantage]. I can only make educated guesses, but I fibbed and said they were 8 weeks old. Based on their eyes being fully open and their coordination being pretty good when first I spotten them, I'm thinking they're very close to 8 weeks, and very definitely no younger than 7 weeks.

It doesn't matter. They're getting dosed now. Even if the rest of us were willing to wait another week, just to be sure [we're not], the risk of flea anemia is just too great with an infestation like this.

Applying the stuff to curmudgeon cat and the dog was easy. Did that last night, no problemo. Squirt squirt, here's a bite of chicken for your cooperation. The Fab Five, on the other hand, are a challenge. They will let me get very close to them now, and in turn will get very close to me, but touching them is iffy. Stealth is called for.

I fed them well last night, but a bit lightly this morning. Then I heaped the plate full of yummy kitten food and set it right next to the chair where I'm sitting now, blogging all things flea. I opened all the tiny-cat tubes of Advantage and propped them on the keyboard. As each furry body approached and fell to eating with abandon, i slowly reached down and squirted out part of one tubeful onto each pair of shoulder blades I could reach.

Three down, two to go. Mom cat wasn't too too difficult, skittish though she is, mostly because she's a slightly larger target than the weightless balls of fluff. Thing 1 and Thing 2, the two tailless blues, are tamer than all the others, and can actually be stroked while chowing down. They were easier than I expected.

Tiger kitten and patches kitten are another kettle of fish.
-- what did you do all day saturday?
-- crawled around the apartment on hands and knees, ambushing wild kittens.

I [heart] global warming. Global warming?! What's that got to do with fleas? ok, make that global climate change. Fleas don't like dry weather, and the past few years have been very dry here, unusual for this area, which used to have an annual rainfall of 60 or 70 inches. The trees are stressed and everybody's lawn is green only where the touhghest weeds are growing.

But the lack of fleas has been lovely. No more. It rained buckets not very long ago, and all those formerly dormant, now hungry fleas have come out to feast on the rest of us. I haven't mentioned yet that I still have flea spray to buy, for the porch and the car. And then I'll have to move the 8 of us to somewhere before I can flea bomb the house.

This was not in the budget. Not any of it.

Oh, well. Y'all will just have to avoid this part of the state until I can save up enough money again for that brake job and CV axle I'd been saving up for. The roads in my immediate vicinty are going to remain unsafe for a bit longer.

Tiger kitten and patches kitten have finally been gotcha'd. I can go to sleep now.


Mustang Bobby said...

I don't have any cats in my house, but my neighborhood has several feral cats and my yard has fleas. Spraying every six months helps, but living in South Florida means its always flea season. I get bitten all up and down my legs just by working in the yard, and I have to fumigate with those little set-'em-and-leave Raid cans about every three months.

hipparchia said...

yard work [shudder]

yep, flea season is year-round at this end of the state, too. i remember doing all that, including carefully nurturing the flea-eating nematodes that didn't.

back when i had a yard, i also had a collie who was so allergic to fleas that one bite would cause most of her fur to fall out. she was about 12 or 13 years old when they came out with advantage [nothing up to that point had worked], so at least she got to spend the last few years of her life in peace.

Steve Bates said...

My Dog Has Fleas? Our friend Catherine has recently taken up ukulele; maybe you could help her tune it...

I sympathize completely. Back in the late 1970s, I lived in some 1930s-ish garden apartments, and many of us took care of a population of ferals (doing much what you do in your T-N-R efforts, though we didn't have a name for it). The apartments had sand fleas beneath the buildings. Every so often they would come out and feed on all of us, human and feline alike. Cat-haters among the neighbors blamed the cats, but cats were victims as surely as humans.

Advantage is as good an approach as any we've found; of course, it doesn't really "solve" the problem. But for those of us not fond of large quantities of pesticides in our abodes, fleas are a serious and ongoing problem. Good luck.

[piwjj - Pee Wee in Amsterdam, perhaps?]

Anonymous said...

I've had the most success with the Raid line of products in the purple cans.

If you have the space, planting lavender and mint plants helps to keep fleas away. Dried lavender in your car couldn't hurt.

Add some garlic powder [don't get carried away] to the wet food.

Ivory soap is an effective flea killer. Real soap removes the waxy coating on fleas and they drown in a bath.

The special nematodes only eat flea eggs, and once they have eaten all of the eggs they die, so the effect is really temporary.

hipparchia said...


i am a goddess among pets, entirely because my mom cooks up batches of magic garlic-and-cheese dog cookies that i then dole out liberally as treats and gifts to all my four-footed friends. hasn't done a dman thing for the fleas beyond inspiring them to break out into tiny renditions of verdi as they stroll about, sucking blood out of us all.

yep, on those nematodes.

soap. yep.

didn't know that about lavendar and mint, two of my favorites. that's awfully good news. lavender sachets for the car it is.

i already use ivory soap on me, as well as lavendar shampoo. the dog and curmudgeon cat got baths in lavender and mint pet shampoo, followed by advantage, but no way are the fab five tame enough for baths. i'd rather have done that, but the advantage was my only hope.

funny you should mention plants. i have only a tiny porch, which i fill every spring with pots of herbs and flowers, which all die of heatstroke by this time of year. i then stash all the pots and potting supplies on shelves on the porch till the next time. the pots-and-supplies storage area is where mom cat had her kittens [or brought them to, i don't really know which].

i've been wanting to try growing some lavender, just because i like it so much, but i don't have a good track record with this patio farming stuff. i may have to try it anyway.

hipparchia said...


pee wee in amsterdam! my parents went on a cruise of the rhine and danube rivers. their first stop? a tour of the red-light district in amsterdam.

i really want to avoid the pesticides as much as possible [though i've had good results in the past with the raid products everybody mentions].

the ancient egyptians revered cats, those rodent-killers extraoridnaire [the brits hadn't gotten around to inventing the jack russell terrier that back then], but so many other groups down through history have feared, persecuted, and reviled them.

we have in the family a farm that some ancestor homesteaded generations ago. after 150 or so years of [mostly] inbreeding the barn cats were starting to look a little funny. one of my cousins began trapping them several years ago, and getting them neutered before releasing them back "into the wild" [they're semi-tame, not quite feral, but would never be pets]. a new batch of kittens comes along sporadically, but not often, and only with new dna to infuse into the gene pool. that was the first i'd heard of tnr. it works, i've seen it in action.

there ae lots of folks here in the complex who feed the various porch cats, but nobody's trying to trap them and get them fixed. there are a couple of long-time residents who would probably be willing to set up a tnr program and take on the care of a colony, but we're all sort of afraid that formalizing it will bring unwanted attention from the property management company.

don't ask, don't tell prevails for now.

Adam said...

Cat bath- Cat shampoo