Cat fleas jump onto and crawl around their host. They don’t climb onto a host. They don’t have wings so they have to crawl or ‘walk’ over their host, usually the domestic cat. They are very powerful jumpers being able to jump up to 80 times their height and 200 times their body length. They can jump onto a cat from a carpet quite easily.
I’ve been combing my cat for fleas for years. I’ve only found two cat fleas on him the entire time I’ve been doing it, for over six years. And he goes outside and he catches mice so I guess we are both lucky. The last time I combed one out the flea jumped off the comb and disappeared. I almost always catch and crush them with my thumb nail before they escape. The jump is extremely explosive. You can see it but the flea will disappear once you they’ve jumped because they’re too small, at about 2 mm in length. You’ll be lucky to see them again.
Video of flea jump
Please note that sometimes videos such as this one stop working for reasons outside of my control. If it has happened, I apologise.
Cat fleas don’t have wings. They have flat bodies which allows them to navigate through dense fur. Of course, they have powerful legs. People ask whether fleas can live in human hair. I’ve never seen it reported but technically they can for a short time. Perhaps they may hitch a ride and then jump onto a companion animal where they can feed in peace hidden by the dense fur. Normally human feet and ankles are bitten by cat fleas because they can jump off carpets onto feet. They can’t stay there because they are not protected by fur.
Cat fleas do bite humans from time to time. You’ll know about it because they’ll be the usual irritating lesion on your ankle. But they don’t live on humans because they can’t feed for long enough under protection. And because they can’t feed they can’t reproduce when the human is their host. In laboratory conditions when cat fleas are allowed to feed for 12 consecutive hours they produce viable eggs afterwards. When allowed to feed for a few minutes on human blood they were unable to produce viable eggs. Cat fleas also bite dogs and dog fleas are slightly different to cat fleas. As mentioned, cat fleas can transfer to humans but they don’t stay on humans for very long.
In the UK, the scientific name for the cat flea is Ctenocephalides felis. This is the common domestic cat flea and it’ll be the same in other countries.
How do you know if you got rid of all the fleas in your home? The answer is that they will stop showing up on your cat. You should be flea combing your cat twice a day if you think you’ve got them in your home. Adult cat and dog fleas can live for up to a year provided they have a host but without a host their lifespan is about two weeks. Although one website says that a flea can live for more than a hundred days without a blood meal. While another website says they live for a few days without food. They are static, waiting for a passing host, when not on a host.
Detecting passing host
Adult fleas in a carpet can detect when a host has arrived by the vibrations that the host makes on its surrounding habitat. It then jumps on.