Flea "Dirt"

by a reader

photo by Veganstraightedge

photo by Veganstraightedge


I have two cats - both domestic and one is black long-haired. Both are indoor cats - Both will be 4 in October.

I have noticed something unusual with my long-haired cat over the last couple of weeks. If he sits on the white floor there is a lot of little specs which look like dirt specs. However, when I go to wipe them up with a damp cloth and they get wet, they are actually dried blood. Literally you would think it was just a size of a pin head spec but a lot of them.

He just started with this and now he is constantly licking himself and shredding in clumps. What is this?


I can't always know just from an email what is going on with a cat. A definitive diagnosis often requires an in-person exam and even laboratory tests. However, the situation you are describing can only lead to one conclusion.

Your cats have fleas. You mention that they are indoor cats and owners of indoor cats often think that their cats cannot possibly have fleas. However, that is unquestionably what it is.

The black specks are commonly referred to as "flea dirt". It is actually the flea excrement which is composed largely of your cat's blood. That is why it turns red when in contact with water.

When a flea bites your kitty, it takes blood from your cat to ripen its eggs. This flea dirt is as much evidence that you have a flea problem as is finding live fleas on your cat.

This is also why your cat is licking himself - he is itchy. You may never find a single flea on a cat, especially an itchy one because he is actually ingesting any fleas as he is biting at his itchy skin. But the flea dirt and itchiness and hair loss are enough to tell you fleas are at the heart of the problem.

My recommendation is FrontlinePlus applied once monthly on the back of the neck of both cats. Both cats MUST be treated even if you are only seeing signs with one cat. Otherwise, you will never get rid of all fleas.

Thank you for writing,

Dr. Neely

Return to The Role of Cat Flea Medicine in Feline Allergies.