Categories: parasites

Do cat fleas live on dogs?

Yes, the short answer is that cat fleas do live on dogs. Their principal host is the domestic cat but they are an extremely common parasite and versatile. Therefore a high proportion of fleas found on dogs are also cat fleas, the Latin, scientific name of which is Ctenocephalides felis.

It is named the “cat flea” because, as mentioned, the primary host is the cat but that appears to be the only reason. It is an extremely thin insect, compressed laterally so that it can slip between the hairs of cats and dogs just above the skin so that it can get to the skin more easily and feed on blood. Adult fleas must feed on blood before they can reproduce. Most of the flea population is made up of eggs at 50 percent and a mere five percent are adult fleas.

Image: MERSEYPEST – Pest Control Liverpool

Cat fleas transmit other parasites to dogs and cats and humans. Incidentally, people can be bitten by fleas. Tapeworm is transmitted to the domestic cat when the cat swallows it. A human can also swallow a flea and acquire a tapeworm.

An American pest control company (Orkin), on the Internet, tells me that most of North America’s flea problems are from cat flea infestations whereas the dog flea is more common in Europe but do appear in North America as well. On that assessment, it would appear that if an American dog has fleas, it is likely that they are cat fleas. I’m sure that in cat and dog households the cat flea can jump across from cat to dog and vice versa.

Fleas in a jar.


When dealing with a flea infestation in a home the treatment has to be holistic i.e. complete both in terms of clearing the parasite from the animals and the home simultaneously. The best course of action is pro-action with constant daily flea combing of a companion animal, and in my view removing all carpets and keeping the home as sterile as possible!

If the pest controller business I mention is correct about American dogs having cat fleas then when people refer to “dog fleas” they may be referring to cat fleas on their dog rather than the species of flea called the “dog flea” – Latin, scientific name: Ctenocephalides canis.

Cats Poisoned by Dog Flea Treatments. Image: PoC.

Pet owners must never use a dog flea treatment on a cat. There have been number of deaths of cats when treated this way. There is a need for improved packaging to clearly distinguish one product from the other. On a personal basis, I would avoid sprays and other pesticides which are placed on the animal in a general fashion. It is too imprecise and pesticides are inherently dangerous. Spot-on treatment are the best and the most controllable as long as the instructions are read. It is vital that the instructions are read carefully. Companion animal owners must understand that these are dangerous pesticides. After all, the instructions say that you should not get the chemical on your hands and yet we are depositing it, in quite a large quantities, on our cat’s skin. That tells you something about the relationship between humans and cats by the way.

From an environmental point of view cat and dog flea treatments pollute the environment.

A cat flea infestation on a cat is probably the most commonplace cat health problem across the planet. It brings ill health to a cat such as tapeworms and the flea bite allergy which is a terrible illness because the cat scratches and self-mutilates sometimes to devastating effect. Please do all you can to remove fleas from your cat and your home. They are very good survivors and constant attention is required.

SOME MORE ON CAT FLEA TREATMENTS – these are useful articles:

Are flea collars safe for kittens?

Flea collars are not safe for kittens unless you talk to a good veterinarian first and even then I'd consider ...
Read More

Cat and dog flea treatments harm river life

Companion animal flea treatment pesticides, fipronil and imidacloprid, are ending up in rivers where they harm marine wildlife and insects ...
Read More

Fipronil in Frontline Spot On flea treatment only 48% effective

A study published on 5 October this year tells us that 62% of cats treated with fipronil were "still found ...
Read More

Killing cat fleas by drowning and using soap

There is a lot of talk on the Internet about killing cat fleas by drowning and using soap. I'd like ...
Read More

Itchy cats: Don’t give anti-flea treatment first

Because cat fleas are such a predominant feline health issue, there might be a tendency among cat guardians to presume ...
Read More

Cat and Dog Flea Treatments Are Polluting Rivers

Imidacloprid a neonicotinoid insecticide used in some cat flea treatments such as Advantage II pollutes streams and rivers where it ...
Read More

Should I shave my cat to get rid of fleas?

To the question in the title the answer is a resounding No despite the understandable urge to get rid of ...
Read More
Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

Pictures of a recently adopted chonky, beat up street cat

Like a lot of people, I love to see pictures of beat up street cats,…

3 hours ago

Courageous Belgian woman during World War II fed stray cats with prime fillet steak

Janine de Greef, a Belgian and a leading figure in the wartime Comet Line escape…

6 hours ago

Are there ocelots in the United States in 2020?

Yes, it is believed that there are ocelots in the United States in 2020 but…

12 hours ago

Howard and Beth Stern offer a foster cat to Joe Biden’s family

The president-elect Joe Biden and his wife Dr Biden will be bringing a new member…

14 hours ago

10 thoughts on how to make your cat less timid

I'm going to rely on Chapter 19 of Jackson Galaxy's book Total Cat Mojo to…

1 day ago

Has this cat hater gone too far with his DIY automatic anti-cat device?

NEWS AND COMMENT - PERTH: A peeved and frankly angry Australian man, Craig Turner, built…

1 day ago