Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm still itchy just writing about it

So I've been thinking for weeks now that I needed to write. There's been a lot to say, but I just haven't. So tonight, though I should be going to bed early (-er anyway) I decided to do this. Naturally, I went back and read my last post to figure out where I left off.

I left off with Sienna being schooled in litterbox usage. Well things went from bad to worse. Not too long after I wrote that post, we had several nice warm days. Until we got time to reinstall the air conditioner, I just left the windows open. Oops!

Turns out, our front bedroom window had a broken screen- the left corner opened like a flap where the piping had come off. So of course, our bad kitty and one other thought this was their personal cat door to the great outdoors. Sienna and Squirrely both took off twice before I rectified the problem. Probably about a week to ten days later I found the presents they brought back: Fleas.

In my panicky state I read a lot of online information. This guy was pretty thorough so I trusted his advice. I messaged my soon-to-be Vet friend first asking for her help with Diatomaceous Earth. She had no idea what I was talking about. Not a good sign. But I went ahead and ordered a ten pound box of the stuff from Amazon and in the meantime, I spent HOURS every day flea-combing and then drowning my finds in soapy water. It was horrible. I only got bitten once, but the girls were covered in red spots, despite washing everything and vaccuuming every time I saw (or thought I saw) a flea.

Amazon had never failed me up to this point, but it took about a week for the stuff to arrive. I couldn't believe it. It was the longest week ever. I hardly got any sleep because I was convinced they were jumping on me and munching on me. Gross. While I waited for my shipment, I tried all of the other suggestions: flea traps with lights ( I was amazed that this worked, but still it only caught 3 or 4 over the course of the week), bathing the kitties (this just stopped the fleas from being able to jump. They could still zip around pretty fast though), rubbing the kitties down in baking soda (this was a substitute for the DE, but it still killed 2 or 3 to my knowledge), vaccumming constantly, washing everything, putting vaseline on the fleas to keep them from moving (this did NOT work. it clumped up the fur because I could not get close enough to the flea before it moved) and of course flea-combing every hour/every time I spotted one.

This had the most success. However I noticed the above mentioned article stated the most fleas he ever saw in a house at one time was about 30. I was pulling about 45 off EACH cat, EACH time. It was bad. Once I realized how high the numbers really were and that they were going down, but not dropping dramatically, I started to distrust his judgement a bit.

Cue Diatomaceous Earth. Luckily it arrived on a Saturday. As soon as Grandma arrived to take the girls for the day, I COVERED the house in this stuff. He says to sprinkle it low to the ground because, though it is safe to eat and touch, if you breath it in it causes lung damage. Easy enough I thought. Better than flea bombing with poison, I thought. As an adult, I can be careful, but my kids, they could be hurt by flea bombing, I thought. So I spread it around like peanut butter on toast and waited. For a couple of hours just in case. Then I started vaccumming. Oh. Boy.

Maybe it's because our vaccum is bagless. Maybe it's because it's not a Dynex. I don't know what the exact cause was, but the minute it started sucking up the DE, the filters were clogged and a mushroom cloud of lung-destroying flour exploded. Luckily I was the only one home. But it was an awful experience. There was nothing I could do about it- I had to keep washing out the filters and vaccumming. Over and over and over again. This went on for about two and a half days. Jon couldn't sleep at night because he could smell the DE. It wasn't strong, but he's sensitive to dust and dust-like things.

I do believe it worked a little- I found a couple of dead fleas on Sienna over the next couple of days, but it was NOT worth it.

Meanwhile, my Vet friend mailed me a 3 month supply of Advantage II for each of my kitties. The fleas were dropping dead within the hour. It's been about a week and a few new baby fleas are hatching, but this stuff works for 30 days. So the new ones should die before they cause any damage or lay any eggs.

Dante, who scratched himself raw, is healing and his hair is growing back, poor boy. The other kitties have stopped scratching and now that everything in the house has been washed and rewashed, things are starting to return to normal.

The moral of the story is, do not mess with DE. The guy above guessed that people use Fleabombing products because of the convenience and then they neglect to clean everything, or it ends up being more work to clean everything. I beg to differ. I will be using the flea bomb product Knockout in  the future because 1. it's what the vets recommend 2. it works 3. it works fast 4. it kills everything. It's worth it!

I'm sad that this has already consumed about 3-4 weeks of my life. But I'm relieved to be nearing the end. Now, I just have to get that screen replaced!

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