Reason why cat fleas congregate around the neck of a domestic cat

It occurred to me today that in light flea infestations there is an obvious reason why fleas congregate around the neck region of a domestic cat. It has only recently occurred to me (duh 😢). When I flea comb my cat I focus almost exclusively around the back of the head, the sides of the neck and under the chin. I flea comb down the spine and focus on the area at the base of the tail. In that area, if there are fleas, you will see flea dirt which are flea faeces. But the fleas themselves are not normally in the region around the base of the tail.

Grooming my cat by flea combing around his neck region which is where fleas congregate because a cat cannot groom their themselves
Grooming my cat by flea combing around his neck region which is where fleas congregate because a cat cannot groom their themselves in those areas. Photo: MikeB
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The fleas, as mentioned, are on the neck region, particularly at the back and sides of the neck. These are the areas that domestic cats cannot groom. They are inaccessible areas for self-grooming. That’s why the congregate there. Note 1: in bad cases of flea infestations the fleas are anywhere on the cat because self-grooming does not subdue them. Also, in these cases, the cats have often neglected themselves because they are ill and barely coping as they are stray or feral cats. Note 2: Also, cats don’t deliberately try and remove fleas by grooming. They may be irritated by fleas and groom to quell the itch or they pick up flea inadvertently. Cats don’t seem to understand what a flea infestation is. Note 3: When cats ingest fleas during grooming, they ingest tapeworm eggs inside the flea which is how they get a tapeworm infestation as well. Those damn fleas are perhaps the single biggest health hazard for the domestic cat.

When a domestic cat self-grooms (autogrooms) herself the spines of their tongue, which are quite long, penetrate quite deep into the fur and touch the skin. Because of this, fleas feeding on the skin are caught up by the cat’s tongue and ingested. Note 4: Flea combing feels like a cat’s tongue to the cat as the teeth brush against the skin.

Self-grooming removes the fleas from those areas which are accessible. The fleas therefore migrate to those areas where they are safe. My theory for why flea dirt is found at the base of the tail is because they are pushed there when the cat self-grooms. The base of the tail is a specific region where you will find flea dirt if there are fleas. I can remember my veterinarian, years ago, flea combing that area because he wanted to trip me up and prove that I was not a good cat caregiver. My cat was entirely free of fleas and flea-dirt.

Like many cat caregivers, I flea comb my cat in the areas mentioned daily as a matter of routine. The flea-coming session fits in with the routines of both myself and my cat. These are very pleasurable sessions which he asks for positively and I willingly provide because I know he loves it so much. And he loves it so much because he realises that he can’t get at those places and therefore I do him a great service. He appreciates it.

4 thoughts on “Reason why cat fleas congregate around the neck of a domestic cat”

  1. He only got out once in the summer for a half hour to a grassy lot near the apartment we live at. But the fleas multiplied like crazy. I’m a packrat which didn’t help matters. They probably laid their eggs amongst my files and books in between papers and pages which I couldn’t reach with the sprays I used. Thank you for your support to my morale. All is well now. The Comfortis the vet prescribed finally got rid of the fleas on him and kept killing the fleas from each generation of hatching eggs as soon as they got on him. All the eggs must’ve hatched by now as I’ve seen no more fleas for a couple of months. My cat Manfred is very clever in opening doors. But it’s winter now and he doesn’t want out. Fleas multiply faster than rabbits, so they must be a prey species for some predator.

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    • That can only mean that your cat is in an environment (perhaps outside) where he picks them up very quickly. If you flea comb every day and flea comb out of his fur all the fleas and yet by the end of the next day he has lots of fleas then clearly he is in an environment either through hunting prey animals or where he goes that is full of fleas. These fleas jump onto him from the ground or other objects. Or they jump off prey animals onto him. In short, it is the environment in which he is in which is causing this cycle of reinfestation. Good luck with this by the way. They say that you must take an holistic approach to controlling fleas. That means looking at everything including your cat. It means including other animals and other objects and the entire home if that is required. I am not suggesting that your home needs to be treated for fleas but if it does then you have to do it.

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