Sometimes, fleas are just a minor annoyance, and as long as you have your cat treated, they go away and you don't have to worry anymore. Other times, however, fleas cause ongoing ailments. Thus, if your cat has or recently had fleas, it's important to keep an eye out for these other problems that they may cause.


Fleas can harbor immature tapeworm eggs in their intestines. If your cat ingests a flea harboring a tapeworm egg, a tapeworm infestation will result. This type of worm lives in the small intestine, and it latches onto the wall of the intestine with a sucker-like mouthpiece. Most cats show few outward signs of tapeworm, but they will shed segments of the worms from their anus. These segments are cream-colored and about the size of a grain of rice.

If you think your cat may have a tapeworm, your vet can take a fecal sample and examine it for tapeworm eggs. For cats that test positive, treatment includes administering a dose of a deworming medication called praziquentel


If your cat had a severe flea infestation, he or she may develop anemia as a result of major blood loss through the flea bites. This is more common in young kittens than in mature cats. Signs of anemia include pale gums, weakness and a lack of energy, appetite loss, and weight loss. If your cat is showing signs of anemia, seek vet attention promptly. Treatment may include blood transfusions and a special diet to restore iron levels.

Hot Spots

If your cat itches excessively due to the fleas, he or she may develop "hot spots," or patches where the fur wears away and the skin becomes raw. Once the fleas have been successfully treated, you'll likely find that these hot spots heal up quite quickly. However, to prevent them from becoming infected and to speed healing, your vet may clip the fur around the hot spot and recommend that you apply a topical ointment to it daily. Cats who keep itching their hot spots even after the fleas are gone may have to wear a cone-shaped collar to prevent this.

Just because you've gotten rid of the fleas does not mean you're done dealing with the damage they've caused. Signs of tapeworm and anemia may not appear until after you've treated the flea infestation, so keep your eye out for these conditions in the weeks following a flea treatment. To learn more, contact a business like South Hills Animal Hospital.