It was Halloween season. Everywhere I looked there were ghosts, ghouls and monsters. None of it could compare to the personal hell that I was dealing with in my own house. I had fleas!
Early October, my well-intentioned aunt delivered this very elaborate cat house for my two beloved kitties. She had picked it up for a steal at a yard sale on her way to work. It was about 5 feet tall, covered in plush tan carpet and had two long scratching post pedestals. My cats loved it. They would climb on it, sleep in it and play with the dangling mice that hung from the top. A week later my nightmare began.
Fleas are amazing creatures. They can survive in a dormant state for years, sitting, waiting, hoping for a warm-blooded, furry critter to come along. When this happens, they come out of their sleepy state and they thrive.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I wore myself out physically and mentally during the weeks that followed. I spent countless hours online researching ways to eliminate these pests. They not only terrorized my cats, but they also fed upon my 5-year-old son and me. He was covered from head to toe in tiny bites that may look innocent enough, but the itching is by far worse than any mosquito bite could possibly be.
My first course of action was to follow the internet advice and vacuum every inch of my house. This included bedding, furniture, drapes, and of course all of the carpeting. I actually vacuumed so much that I threw my back out during the process. I don’t know if it was from the actual pushing of the vacuum, or the moving of all the furniture. I would empty the canister and see hundreds of those little monsters. They seemed to be taunting me.
After I felt confident that the majority of the little demons were safely in the trash on the curb, I bought the chemicals. I bought several bombs and they are not cheap. I covered our eating surfaces and reserved a hotel room for my children and I, and I set the bombs off. The next day when I came home I had mixed emotions. I was optimistic that the fleas were all deceased, but I felt apprehension about the potential dangers I may have exposed my children to in using such strong chemicals in our home.
Well, let’s just say that the optimism was soon destroyed. Three days later, while relaxing on my fumigated couch, I saw a flea. It innocently hopped on my arm and smiled at me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I don’t want to tell you what words came out of my mouth, but trust me when I say that they weren’t pretty.
Out came the vacuum and the sprays and the powders. I once again subjected my cats to flea baths. It was still somewhat early so I went to the pet supply store near my house and spoke with the “experts” working there. One very kind clerk, who I will refer to as “My Hero” advised me to treat my cats with Frontline. This product was very expensive, but I was desperate.
I went home crying that evening and actually tore all of the carpet out of my children’s rooms. My legs and arms were covered in bites after this, but since I found most of the fleas when vacuuming these rooms,I believed that I would be eliminating the source. No such luck.
I called the hotline number on the Frontline box and spoke to a very informative customer service agent. I learned that everything I had been doing was useless until my cats were treated with the Frontline, thus, becoming toxic to the fleas. She told me that once they were treated I could expect the fleas’ life cycles to run their courses and they would be eliminated from my home within a few weeks.
She was exactly right. I was finding dead fleas everywhere for the next few days. Their little carcasses were in water bowls, on the windowsills, and even on my bed sheets. But, they were DEAD!
I realized that that beautiful cat house was the culprit in my flea battle and it was chopped and burned in a celebratory bonfire a few weeks later. I never told my aunt what happened to the wonderful “gift” she gave me. She meant well.
My advice to all pet owners out there, NEVER bring a used pet bed or other fabric animal item into your home and always treat your animals with a flea preventative product.