The Hack Job on Poor Charcoal

Sunday, I was giving this sweet guy (Charcoal) a routine bath and grooming session when I discovered several of my very worst enemies: fleas. We learned from last year’s horrible flea mess that indoor cats can get fleas, so this year we weren’t taking any chances. We sprayed our yard with insecticide and we’ve been putting the expensive flea protection on both cats since the weather has gotten warm. We’ve been especially careful with Ashes (the small one), who has decided she’s mostly an outside cat (she’s also a ninja, so there’s not much we can do about that).

Even though our neighbors leave their poor dogs outside all day and don’t protect them against fleas and we knew it would be a bad flea year because we had a very mild winter in Kansas City, we weren’t expecting fleas. I definitely wasn’t expecting them on grooming day: the day that I re-applied the flea protection after giving Charcoal a bath in supposed flea-killing shampoo.

I may have gone a little crazy. I’m not going through what we went through last year, guys.

The Hack Job on Poor Charcoal

I started cutting large chucks of Charcoal’s hair off with those kid safety scissors with the colorful plastic handles. Jake later grabbed some better scissors for me and Charcoal’s food bowl to keep him entertained. I hacked away for at least an hour (maybe more) until the poor guy was almost shaved. If they’ve got nowhere to hide, I can GET THEM. Because obviously these are super fleas that can’t be killed by mere medication and chemicals. I need to find these suckers and drown them.

After my craze and I had a shamed and fluff-less cat on my hands (he was so good, standing there the whole time!), I looked at my calendar and to make sure that I could put more flea prevention medication on him. It had been exactly 30 days (the time span you can have between treatments, though it’s supposed to work for up to six weeks). I put it on him and banished him to the basement.

Sunday had to be the worst day every for this cat. Not only did he have to have a BATH, but he had all of his hair snipped off and then was sent to the basement without much lovin’.

The Hack Job on Poor Charcoal

He’s being brave in this photo.

The Hack Job on Poor Charcoal

A bit about Charcoal. He’s the best cat ever. Seriously. He’s loveable and meek. He sleeps on my feet. He follows me from room to room. He’ll drop in front of anyone’s feet and show his belly, waiting to be rubbed. He snuggles strangers. He pines at the door when I leave. He once attacked Jake because he thought Jake was hurting me (he wasn’t). This cat is a dog in a cat’s body.

And, to understand him a bit better, watch this clip. When Jake and I “do” Charcoal’s voice, it comes out as Milton Waddams from Office Space. (In case you’re wondering, Ashes’s voice is Navi; Link’s fairy in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.)

I can’t wait for this to be over with. Hopefully, by being super proactive, we’ll nip the problem in the bud before it really becomes a problem.

As soon as this dude can come out of banishment, I’m going to snuggle him and scratch his head all day.


10 Tips for Dealing with Fleas:

  • Bombing doesn’t work, because it’s not effective at killing eggs. You might as well burn money.
  • Vacuum frequently: the floors, the cracks, the nooks and crannies, the furniture. Then throw away what you’ve vacuumed (you don’t want the eggs to hatch in there; you want them out of your living space.
  • Sweep. Sweep so so frequently. (You’re battling eggs, not adults.)
  • Clean the areas your pet normally sleeps very thoroughly.
  • Fleas like wet and damp areas, so try to dehumidify your home and DON’T shampoo the carpets (it’s the perfect flea breeding ground).
  • Sometimes it’s hard to tell your animal is infested (especially if they’ve got long hair like ours). If your pet is scratching, check them for fleas. The flea comb is your friend. If they are leaving behind dried-blood colored dirt-looking debris, this is probably flea dust and is a sure sign of infestation.
  • Match your treatment to your animal type. Dog flea shampoo/ topical treatment can kill cats (not sure if this is as dangerous the other way).
  • When washing your animal with flea shampoo, wash around the neck and the bum first. When the fleas get wind that you’re sudsing up, they’ll run and hide in the ears and the anus. Use the flea comb afterwards and dip the live fleas you find in soapy water to kill them off.
  • Fleas are attracted to white for some reason, so a walk through a room with white socks should let you know if you’re dealing with an infestation.
  • To trap fleas, fill a shallow dish with soapy water and put a light directly over the water. The fleas will drown themselves. This won’t get them all, but it will let you know the level of infestation you’re working with.

Let us know if you’ve got any questions or advice about fleas!