Cat flea


Cat flea
Cat Flea
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Siphonaptera
Family: Pulicidae
Genus: Ctenocephalides
Species: C. felis
Binomial name
Ctenocephalides felis
(Bouché, 1835)

The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, is one of the most abundant and widespread species of flea on Earth.

Contents

Overview

The cat flea's primary host is the domestic cat, but this is also the primary flea infesting dogs in most of the world. The cat flea can also maintain its life cycle on other carnivores and on the Virginia opossum. Humans can be bitten but cannot be infested, so a population of cat fleas cannot be sustained by this aberrant host.[2]

Life cycle

Photo showing some characteristics used to identify from other fleas, including genal comb

The female cat flea lays her eggs on the host, but the eggs, once dry, have evolved to filter out of the haircoat of the host into the resting and sheltering area of the host.

Flea larva showing red ingested blood

The eggs hatch into larvae, which are negatively phototaxic, meaning that they hide from light in the substrate. Flea larvae feed on a variety of organic substances, but most importantly subsist on dried blood that is filtered out of the haircoat of the host after it is deposited there as adult flea fecal material. Thus the adult population on the host feeds the larval population in the host's environment.

Flea fecal material, here combed from a cat, is also called flea dirt

Flea larvae metamorphose through 4 stages before spinning a cocoon and entering the pupal stage. The pupal stage varies greatly in length; the pre-emergent flea does not normally emerge as a young adult flea until the presence of a potential host is perceived by warmth or vibration. Newly emerged fleas are stimulated to jump to a new host within seconds of emerging from the cocoon. The new flea begins feeding on host blood within minutes.[3][4][5]

Effects on the hosts

A kitten receiving a flea bath to treat a flea infestation.

A few fleas on adult dogs or cats cause little harm unless the host becomes allergic to substances in saliva. The disease that results is called flea allergy dermatitis. Small animals with large infestations can lose enough bodily fluid to fleas feeding that dehydration may result. Fleas are also responsible for disease transmission through humans. If the fleas have been sucking blood, then they will have a reddish-brown colour when squashed.[citation needed]

Disease transmission

Cat fleas can transmit other parasites and infections to dogs and cats and also to humans. The most prominent of these are Bartonella, murine typhus, and apedermatitis. The tapeworm Dipylidium caninum can be transmitted when a flea is swallowed by pets or humans. In addition, cat fleas have been found to carry Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease, but their ability to transmit the disease is unclear.[6]

See also

  • Pulicosis (Flea bites)

References

  1. ^ European wildcat species account IUCN Species Survival Commission. Cat Specialist Group
  2. ^ "Cat flea". Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. http://www.ct.gov/CAES/cwp/view.asp?a=2815&q=376710. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Fleas". University of Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IG087. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  4. ^ "Insects and Ticks: Fleas". Entomology Department at Purdue University. http://www.entm.purdue.edu/publichealth/insects/flea.html. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  5. ^ "The Biology, Ecology and Management of the Cat Flea". University of California, Riverside. http://www.vet.ksu.edu/depts/dmp/personnel/faculty/pdf/dryden/bio_eco_manage_flea.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  6. ^ Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1991 May;44(5):469-74

External links

Flea treatment



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Look at other dictionaries:

  • cat flea — kat .flē n a common often pestiferous flea of the genus Ctenocephalides (C. felis) that breeds chiefly on cats, dogs, and rats * * * Ctenocephalides felis …   Medical dictionary

  • cat flea — noun flea that breeds chiefly on cats and dogs and rats • Syn: ↑Ctenocephalides felis • Hypernyms: ↑flea • Member Holonyms: ↑Ctenocephalides, ↑genus Ctenocephalides * * * noun …   Useful english dictionary

  • cat flea. — See under flea. * * * …   Universalium

  • cat flea. — See under flea …   Useful english dictionary

  • cat flea typhus — a flea borne form of typhus clinically similar to murine typhus, caused by Rickettsia felis and transmitted by the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) …   Medical dictionary

  • Flea — Flea, n. [OE. fle, flee, AS. fle[ a], fle[ a]h; akin to D. vtoo, OHG. fl[=o]h, G. floh, Icel. fl[=o], Russ. blocha; prob. from the root of E. flee. [root]84. See {Flee}.] (Zo[ o]l.) An insect belonging to the genus {Pulex}, of the order… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • flea — /flee/, n. 1. any of numerous small, wingless bloodsucking insects of the order Siphonaptera, parasitic upon mammals and birds and noted for their ability to leap. 2. either of two common fleas of the genus Ctenocephalides, the very small, black… …   Universalium

  • Cat scratch disease — For the Ted Nugent album, see Cat Scratch Fever. For the Nickelodeon cartoon, see Catscratch. Cat Scratch Disease Classification and external resources Micrograph …   Wikipedia

  • Flea — Taxobox name = Flea image width = 200px image caption = Scanning electron microscope (SEM) depiction of a flea domain = Eukaryota regnum = Animalia phylum = Arthropoda classis = Insecta subclassis = Pterygota infraclassis = Neoptera superordo =… …   Wikipedia

  • flea — An insect of the order Siphonaptera, marked by lateral compression, sucking mouthparts, extraordinary jumping powers, and ectoparasitic adult life in the hair and feathers of warm blooded animals. Important fleas include Ctenocephalides felis… …   Medical dictionary