The tiny, blood-sucking bed bugs are back with a vengeance, and they are tough to get rid of. In a frantic race to protect ourselves from these pesky critters, we often forget our cat pets. While bed bugs prefer human blood, your furry friends are at as much risk of bites as you are.
The thought of bed bugs feeding on you or your cat is scary. They can cause severe rashes, itching, and general discomfort for cats and humans. Read this post to learn how to shield your cat from bed bugs.
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Will Bed Bugs Bite Your Cat?
Bed bugs can bite your cat but only on rare occasions. These pesky blood-sucking critters will happily nibble on your furry friend in the absence of human blood supply. Your cat is warm-blooded, making it an ideal host. However, cat blood does not meet a bed bug’s nutritional requirements as human blood do.
Bed bugs detest cat fur, so there has to be an underlying reason why they would opt for your cat’s blood. Failed extermination attempts often disrupt the bed bugs’ usual feeding habits and may push them to feed on pets. Other reasons why bed bugs will bite your cat include;
- They have extreme hunger
- The bedbugs do not have sufficient access to human blood
- Your cat rests on an infested space, for example, a bed, chair, or couch.
Are Bed Bugs Dangerous To Your Cat?
Bed bugs do not occupy as much time on furry pets as other common pests such as fleas, ticks, and lice. These crawling critters cause distress to your cat, but they do not transmit any diseases. Nevertheless, severe scratches resulting from itching may trigger secondary skin infections.
Bed bugs are also dangerous to your cat because they can drive it to mental distress. It may surprise you, but pets can suffer depression and anxiety just as humans do. If you notice any physical or attitude changes in your cat, you must consult a veterinarian.
It would also help to watch out for signs of allergic reactions resulting from bed bug bites on your cat. A Journal of Allergy and Immunology paper asserts that bed bug bites can trigger an IgE antibody reaction. Symptoms of this allergic reaction in your cat include:
- Pink skin around the bite marks
- Localized swelling which may spread throughout the cat’s body in the worst-case scenario
- Runny nose
How to Know If Your Cat Has Bed Bugs
Bed bugs characteristically feed at night regardless of their host, making it hard to spot them. Considering that your cat has fur, you will find it difficult to spot bed bugs. To know if your furry friend has bed bugs, you will need to:
Observe your cat for signs of irritability
If you suspect your cat has bed bugs, you need to watch for irritability and vigorous scratching signs. Bed bug bites cause itching and discomfort for your cat, just as they do on humans.
Cats respond to irritability and pain by licking or vigorously scratching their bite spots. It is wise to rule out other causes before concluding of bed bugs. Your cat may be scratching itself excessively because of bites from other potential factors, including:
- Flea bites
- Pet allergy
- Mite bites
- Lice bites
- Ticks bites
Look for signs of bed bugs on your cat’s bedding
If you notice that your cat is often irritable, the best course of action is to inspect its resting area and bedding for:
- Blood spots: If bed bugs bite your cat, some of its blood might leak onto the bedding before coagulating. Bloodstains on the cat’s bedding likely point to bed bugs.
- Bed bug fecal spotting: Bed bugs’ fecal matter looks like tiny red spots due to the blood they consume. It is difficult to notice these tiny flecks of fecal matter, so it would help to use a magnifying glass.
- Exoskeletons: Bed bugs shade exoskeletons as they grow and past various stages in their life cycle. These exoskeletons appear as translucent shells with the same shape and size as a bed bug. When checking for exoskeletons, it would be wise to use a UV flashlight. Phosphors in bed bug shells absorb UV light and give off visible light.
- Live bed bugs: Although it is unlikely you will find live bed bugs in your cat’s bedding, you might want to inspect them. Bed bugs prefer hiding in dark spots such as cracks and crevices. If there are any such spots around your cat’s resting area, you should inspect them thoroughly.
Check if your cat has bed bug bite marks
Bed bug bites on your cat appear just as they would on your skin if you fall victim to these pesky critters. Bed bug bites commonly occur on exposed skin parts or where the fur is less dense. Bed bug bites often elicit red welts on the skin that appear in a pattern. Unfortunately, most people cannot differentiate bed bug bites on the skin from bites from other pests. You must be careful not to interpret bites from other pests as bed bug bites.
What to Do If You Find Bed Bugs on Your Cat
People often make mistakes when treating bed bugs out of fear and anxiety. You may be tempted to race to the nearest store and purchase a bug bomb as a cat owner. Bed bugs are tough to kill, after all, if bed bug history is anything to go by, they survived the dinosaurs’ mass extinction.
To get rid of bed bugs biting your furry friend, you have to eliminate every single one in your home. Failure to do so is a temporary solution because they will multiply into a full-blown infestation within a short time. Here is a guide to exterminating bed bugs and protecting your cat:
Clean everything your cat interacts with
There is a significant chance that bed bugs are underneath or around everything your furry friend comes in contact with. Some of these things include your cat’s regular bed, the couch, and blankets. It would be best to wash each of these items in hot water to kill the bed bugs. This raises the query, what should you do with your cat’s litter.
Bed bugs cannot live or hide in cat litter for several reasons. These pesky critters do not like to burrow into loose things like cat litter because their bodies are too cumbersome. More importantly, cat litter is made from silica gel crystals that dry bed bugs out upon coming into contact.
Clean your home thoroughly
Cleaning your cat’s bed and belongings and leaving the rest of your home is not a wise choice. Vacuum everything you can around your home, including baseboards, furniture, fittings, carpets, and bed frames. After you finish vacuuming, you must seal and dispose the vacuum bag in an outside trash can.
You must also scrub different surfaces around your house with a stiff brush to extricate clinging bed bugs and eggs. Cleaning your whole house is a challenging task, but failing to do it means you will not get rid of bed bugs.
Treatments (do and don’t)
Always take your time to consider different treatment methods and their impact on your cat before treating it. Here is a comprehensive guide on treatment for cats:
Bed bug medicine for cats
There are currently no medications that treat bed bug bites on your cat. Wash your cat’s paws and cleanse any bite wounds to prevent infection. You can also use anti-itch shampoo and soothing sprays to help your cat feel comfortable as it heals from bed bug bites. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any extreme bites and possible allergic reactions.
As a cat owner, you need to research the best bed bug shampoo for cats. It would be best to study how to use shampoo to alleviate the effects of bed bug bites on your cat. Using the shampoo appropriately gives your cat relief from the irritating symptoms.
Bed bug pesticides for cats
According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, pesticides are the biggest danger pets face in treating bed bugs. Using pesticides is not advisable because they are risky, and bed bugs have developed genetic immunity to most of them. Most people choose to use Pyrethrins, but according to Public Health Reports, most people who use them get poisoned. Spraying pesticides on your cat is dangerous for your cat.
Natural oil treatment for cats
Essential oils such as lavender oil effectively treat bed bugs in human populations. When dealing with cats, essential oils are not a good idea because these furry creatures are allergic to them. We urge you to use safe alternative treatment methods such as a steamer to get rid of the bed bugs.
Bed bugs do not discriminate based on tidiness, social status, or economic status. Humans are any bed bug’s primary target, but our pets often fall prey to their unforgiving bites. You must grasp the lessons expressed in this post and stay vigilant to protect your furry family member from bed bugs.
What do bed bug bites look like on cats?
Bed bug bites on cats are similar to those on humans. They appear as red or pink bumps organized in a cluster.
Can cats carry bed bugs on them?
It is difficult and dangerous for bed bugs to hitchhike on your cat’s fur, but it can carry them on its collar or leash. While it’s uncommon, you must remember that cats can bring them into your home. Cats are playful pets that enjoy moving around, even in dark spaces with good hiding spots for bed bugs. It only takes one hitchhiking bed bug on your furry friend to start a full-blown infestation in your home.
Can bug bombs get rid of bed bugs on your cat?
The pesticides included in the bug bombs can be dangerous for your cat’s health. Also, bed bugs do not leave on cats but around. It’s more effective to treat the surroundings than directly your cat.
Can anti-tick and anti-flea products keep bed bugs away from your cat?
No case study supports the idea that anti-tick and flea products can work against bed bugs.
Can bed bugs live in cats ears?
No, Bed bugs don’t live on their hosts like fleas. They will bites your cat and go back to their nests afterward.