The other day, much to my astonishment, our two absolutely indoor cats fetched up with fleas.
I know there was no winter last year, and I know that makes a difference, but in 12 years of indoor cats and human feet walking in and out, this is the very first time for fleas. Can this be climate change on a totally local level?
A nice flea bath at the vet was in order for Dilly and Lois. Dilly stood still for the bath and the blowing out of her Maine coon cat fur. Lois was profoundly unwilling, and had to be sedated for her bath.
I thought when they got home that they would be so disgruntled that they would make me feel even worse than I already did by going on cat strike (those with insulted cats will know what this is), or by hiding out. Nope. They were really grateful, purring and cuddling.
It was a slightly different matter the next day when the gooey stuff had to go between their shoulder blades. They used the old kitty jungle telegraph (human ears cannot hear or translate it but it is a universal cat S.O.S.). They scattered, but I prevailed.
Now that I know what to look for, which heretofore I did not, this flea thing will not happen again. I made this promise to the kitties: They will endure the gooey stuff and I will check them using the flea comb and little dish of soapy water trick I just learned about online.
All this fleeing from fleas got me to wondering what on God’s green earth is the reason for fleas. Of course they were useful in ages past if you wanted to spread the plague, but who wants to do that nowadays?
Fleas fall into that category of critters I can really do without. Things with lots and lots of legs freak me out, but so far they don’t threaten me with bites and stings.
I realize that mosquitoes feed all the neat evening birds that swoop around, and ticks keep guinea fowl full. I am not a fan of spiders, but on the plus side I know they catch bad things like Japanese beetles. On the negative side, spiders do mean things, too, like snagging pretty things like swallowtail butterflies. The bigger bugs eat the littler ones and so on and so on.
What does the flea do but torture animals?
The cockroach has survived millenniums, but I can see no earthly reason for them either. Cockroaches don’t do much for anyone apart from inspiring bad dreams and giving everyone the creeps. So why are they and the sneaky little flea here? What do they do for the world?
Is there a creature that dines on fleas? If so, it seems to be doing a crummy job of keeping up with them. What do they accomplish in their lifespan? A flea circus is not enough of an excuse, in my book, for their place in the great scheme of things. But flea markets are another thing entirely.
I never imagined I would be looking forward to a deeply freezing winter, but I hear that makes a difference in the flea population, so bring it on. I have nice cats to keep me warm.
Durell Godfrey is a contributing photographer to The Star.