After losing many battles to the fleas, Wolf and I think (pray) we’ve won the war. Let me tell you of the journey.
After putting our cat Harley down in March I asked my cousin if she’d give us one of her cats, as she has an abundance of them and was looking to re-home a few. She agreed. PJ came to us on Memorial Day. She gave him some Frontline the day he came to live with us.
After a couple weeks we noticed PJ was biting and scratching. We waited the required amount of time and gave both him and Francesca (our other cat) Revolution. One must alternate between the two because the fleas become resistant to the chemicals, much like how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. Yet thirty days later PJ was still biting and scratching and his gums seemed pretty pale to me. We took him to the groomers and they said the was covered in fleas indicating the Frontline and Revolution were not working.
In the meantime I posted on my facebook asking for ways to control the flea population naturally. I got the usual responses: clean your house. Since Wolf and I keep the house pretty clean by vacuuming and dusting I looked for other solutions. Debbie, my totally reliable and wickedly awesome pet sitter suggested using Diatomaceous Earth. We did this a couple times and it seemed to lessen the fleas but poor PJ was still biting and scratching.
We vacuumed and dusted constantly and we diatomaceous earthed the house twice. Finally we broke down and bought a fogger. And you know what? It didn’t work. Oh, it killed the spiders, ants, and all the other insects but not the fleas. On the day Wolf fogged, he took the day off from work set the fogger up, brought ALL the laundry down to the laundromat, and took both cats to the groomer.
And still the fleas kept coming.
Wolf and I were at wits end. The third time PJ went to the groomer, earlier this week, he came home WITH fleas. We called and complained and they agreed to groom him for free. He went in a fourth time and that was yesterday. So, poor PJ had been constantly groomed and dipped, and biting, and scratching since at least Memorial Day. The poor kitty has been so totally miserable he hasn’t been able to settle into our home.
In the meantime Wolf started doing research on fleas. He determined the best way to get rid of them was for the temperatures to drop well below 70* (WikiPedia). Here in central New Hampshire it’s been warm and humid, weather fleas love. The hurricanes, the rain in general, the warm air, all this was perfect weather for fleas. As much as we hated to pray for cold, we started to.
The last two nights central NH has had frost warnings. We haven’t gotten a frost but the temps have dipped pretty low at night. This morning when I got up it was 46* in the house. Since we knew the best way to get rid of the fleas was to freeze them we left all the doors and windows open during the night. Let’s hope that it worked.
So all those chemicals we exposed ourselves and our cats to did no good. Certainly the chemical companies (ie: pharmaceutical companies) got our money. Going the chemical route was not an easy decision. Now I know, and I knew at the time I was making the decision, it was the wrong one.
So we’ve (hopefully) won the war but because the cold came. It’s a war we never, ever wanted to engage in. We will be more deliberate in keeping the house flea free by doing maintenance cleaning with diatomaceous earth and borax (the other suggestion we got as it’s non-toxic). We will continue to brush the cats with the flea comb. And if you have any suggestions, please, comment. Never in all the years I’ve had pets have I had a flea infestation like this. Talking to neighbors they said the same thing: this was the worst year in recent memory of such a bad flea problem.