Next time I offer to take care of someone’s pet, and it comes wearing a flea collar and with a bottle of flea spray in its box of earthly possessions, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have fleas. It means that it has had fleas, and it may presently have fleas.
I guess I was a little bit of a dope for not thinking a little more clearly about why there were little black specks coming out of the cat’s fur when I brushed her (on my bed! Ugh!). I thought that was dead fleas, probably trapped in her thick long hair for some time after they were killed by the flea collar.
And those fleas may have been dead, but the ones now infesting my home and my dog are most definitely not dead. I discovered them on Thursday night, when the dog flopped over on her side to expose her belly for rubbing, and her belly was a very active black-speckled place.
I’ve never had a flea infestation in my house before, but it didn’t take a ton of research (or any, actually) to realize that since the cat (and now the dog) had fleas, those fleas are probably now spread throughout the house–including my bedroom and even (the horror!) my bed.
Straightway, I stripped off the comforter and sent H off to wash it at the laundromat, and then removed every piece of bedding and clothing and bureau scarves and you-name-it to the basement to be washed. Yes, I understand this will bring fleas to the basement, too, but the cat’s been hanging out down there anyway.
I pretty much have to assume the fleas are everywhere at this point.
Then the dog went into the tub. Then the cat. When I first found the fleas, I started spraying the cat with the flea spray that came with her–but that stuff creeps me out, and I didn’t want her licking it off her fur. So, despite her furious protestations, she got a “nice” lavender bath, too.
Of course, as anyone who has had a full-scale flea infestation in their house knows (and I’ve now read about on the internets), that really doesn’t come close to solving the problem. In fact, it can take months to get rid of them–especially if you’re not one to fill your house with toxic chemicals.
My next line of offense was to head off to the store for a bottle of diatomaceous earth–not the pool-grade stuff, but the stuff I use in my gardens for pest control. You can rub it into your pet’s fur, and it won’t hurt them if they lick it off. It abrades the insects’ waxy coating and causes them to dry out and die.
You can also dust your house with it. Unfortunately, dusting the entire house with a fine white powder and then cleaning it up doesn’t sound like something I want to do the day before the custody evaluator comes to do a home visit. Though, you know, I’d prefer she didn’t end up with flea bites all over her, either.
I’m also washing every bit of my bedding and clothing (as usual) with Irish Twins handmade laundry soap (thanks, Erin!), which contains borax. Borax is also toxic to fleas–and the lavender scent of the soap is a repellent as well.
And I guess I’ll be dusting the dog again because I just checked her belly, and there they are–running all over the place. Ugh. And then when I catch the cat (she’s more than a little suspicious of me after the flea spray and bath adventures), I’ll dust her, too.
I’m looking into other natural and non-toxic measures as well, but many of those (essential oils, mostly) are repellents rather than killers. I’m getting the feeling that a good portion of my Christmas break is going to involve full-scale war on the tiny black beasties in every corner and crevice of my house.
At least my house will be clean. And it’ll smell like the purple-hazed lavender fields of Provence.