punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

The Fear of Fleaing

A long time ago, in a house far, far away... we had fleas. They came from a rabbit we tried to adopt, and these weren't regular fleas, oh no, they were voracious man-eating fleas. These were the days before Frontline or Advantage, which were as revolutionary as Penicillin in the pet world, IMHO. Before those enlightened days, we had to suffer a flea infestation that would not go away. It spread to our cats, and even though we found a home for the rabbit on a friend's farm in less than 2 weeks, the fleas stayed for a year and a half. They came back and forth in waves. We were very poor at the time, and so getting flea bombs were about a day's worth of of pay at $35/can (with a 3 can minimum). We tried over the counter bombs to save money (like Raid, Black Flag, etc.), but they never really worked, and the only thing that did keep them at bay were the ones we got from the vet, which is why they were so expensive. We didn't even have carpeting, but they were voracious and lived in the cracks of the cheap parquet flooring as well as our laundry, furniture, and even in the dust by the floor molding.

Christine is allergic to bug bites. Severely. Her legs were always bumpy and swollen from the flea attacks that went to her far more than they went to Christopher or myself. Pookie, one of our cats, had been attacked so harshly, she lost most of her hair for about 2 years. We tried all kinds of cheap home remedies, like smoke, milk jugs filled with hot water and covered in Vaseline, and various herbs and powered in the cats' coats. The best of them was the milk jug, but I still shudder when I think of the jugs hours later, covered with sticky fleas like I'd sprinkled pepper on it. The cats were bathed almost twice a week. Each time, you'd see dozens of fleas go down the drain, and afterwards, I had to wrap the cats in a towel and pluck more fleas off of them with tweezers.

These fleas were not small little black dots, they were some larger brown kind, which made them easier to comb out and pluck, but they wouldn't die. We learned more about fleas for a year than we ever knew; their life cycle, the eggs, the larva, the time they could exist without a host before they starved to death (14 days), and the time their eggs could lay dormant (3 months).

Finally, in an unrelated incident, our house flooded during the winter (townhouse, neighbor's pipes froze and burst). That actually crippled them enough to get a head start, and since a lot of our lower floor was open to the cold winter air for the while it was being repaired, I suspect those that survived the flood froze to death. The upper floors got bombed, clothes were sealed in ziplock bags, and we got a new mattress for our bed.

That was over ten years ago. Since then, we have had a huge, heaping fear of fleas. Now we have 4 cats and two dogs. And carpeting. The dogs get Frontline, but the cats (not being outdoor cats), don't. We have "emergency supplies" of doses for the cats, should we end up with the beginning of an infestation. When we got Thisby, she was infested, and I suspect her deep hatred of me stems from the first few days with her as a kitten when I bathed and scrubbed her long hair in the sink. Frontline is a Godsend. It was first introduced to us by our friend Jenny who is a dog groomer. She said when you apply it onto dogs, you literally start to see the fleas dying within minutes. Wait about 20 minutes, then brush the dog out, and there will be a ring of dead fleas around where the dog was.

I hate fleas.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000581.html
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