If you follow me on Twitter, you’re probably sick and tired of me bitching about fleas. Well, the good news for you is now that complaining isn’t going to be just limited to 140 characters. It’s getting the full blog treatment.
Why, you ask. Because dealing with the fleas has completely taken over my life, leaving me no time to do, well, anything else at all.
It started about two months ago when we noticed a sudden problem with fleas in the house. As a reminder, we have one pet — an indoor cat. I know we live in Florida, but we had two dogs for six years and never had a situation like this before.
We treated Blue for fleas for the first few months we got her (about January through May) but then just kind of forgot about it since she is, as mentioned, a strictly indoor cat. Big mistake. Huge mistake.
By the time we noticed the fleas in October, they were already a serious problem. You’d walk into our bedroom, the only room with carpet in the house, and have about six fleas on your foot. Lovely, especially when it’s still so hot that you’re still wearing flip flops. We went to Petco and got Advantage for her, hoping that’d help. It didn’t.
So, we set off some Raid flea bombs, got out of the house for a couple hours and sent Blue to the groomers to remove all the gross flea dirt and get her a flea dip.
The treatment lasted about oh, 2 days, despite following the instructions to vacuum everything for a week and washing all the comforters, sheets, etc.
When E. started getting bites all over her legs and even her face, I threw in the towel and called in the professionals at Terminex. So two weeks ago, once again, we had to vacate the house for three hours. Blue went back to the groomers, this time taking a Capstar first since she apparently left a massive trail of fleas there the last time (thankfully the groomer is pretty much obsessed with Blue and I think wants to steal her from us). As Blue was getting pampered, I sent E and DadJovi off to Disney for the day, and I went back to visit all my old friends at the laundromat so I could once again wash all the sheets, mattress covers and comforters from our three bedrooms (ours, E’s and guest room). For those keeping count at home, that’s six loads of laundry (I can get two of the sheet sets in one load).
I talked to the Terminex guy extensively about what we should do after the spraying. He told us to not do anything until Tuesday (three days after his visit), then vacuum all the furniture and floors every day for a week or so and mop the floors. So the week of Thanksgiving, including for hours before our guests arrived on Thanksgiving, I was cleaning everything.
It also wasn’t cheap. The Terminex visit was $150. I spent about $25 at the laundromat washing everything. We spent $45 at the groomers since we got her the hard-core treatment. I also spent another $45 at the vet’s office to get her the Capstar and a three-month supply of Frontline, which we put on Blue two days after her groomer’s visit (based on the groomer’s suggestion of timing).
And for a few glorious days, it seemed all our efforts were paying off. I barely saw any fleas, and the cat seemed to be itching less. Things were finally starting to return to normal.
Until they weren’t.
By early last week, the fleas were back in full force, almost as bad as ever. Every time the cat got up from a place, she was once again leaving a trail of gross flea dirt, a course black, powdery substance that turns red when it gets wet and leaves stains. Fun fact, know what flea dirt is? Flea shit.
I called Terminex. Our payment included one free return visit within 30 days. They’d warned me that a second visit may be necessary so they weren’t surprised when I called back.
As the fleas were returning, Duke suddenly made the ACC Championship game. Yes, in football. The game was held in Charlotte, so since my husband’s sister and brother-in-law live there and he has a friend at Duke who could get good tickets, he decided he wanted us to go. But as I was trying to decide, the flea situation just kept getting worse. I finally decided I had to stay home and deal with it. So he and E. set off for a fun daddy-daughter weekend and I stayed home. Basically, I’m Cinderella.
I set up yet another visit with Terminex on Saturday. The groomer was booked for the day and she didn’t like the idea of doing another treatment on Blue just two weeks after her last dip. But Blue still had to get out of the house, so I put her in the garage and put towels in front of the door and opened the windows to further protect her.
As I waited out my three hours out of the house, guess where I got to visit … again?
At least it was festive.
This time, I decided I wasn’t taking any chances. So, for 9 1/2 hours, I was a cleaning fiend. I washed: mattress covers, sheets, comforters, area rugs, nearly every towel we own, throw blankets and CURTAINS, I took freaking curtains down from every window and washed them.
This time, the exterminator told me I should vacuum later that day. After a few hours, I started vacuuming everything — floors, rugs, furniture, baseboards, windows. Everything.
But there was one thing I had to clean that proved to be the most challenging.
Yes, I gave our cat a bath. By myself. And I’m not sure which of us hates the other more right now. It’s pretty much a tossup.
Although, I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty impressed with myself. I can’t pat myself on the back too much, though. The groomer was right; Blue is pretty dang easy to bathe. The hardest part was getting her in the tub (there was a lot of comically loud meowing and clawing at my shoulders), but once she was in, she sat pretty well and was even purring.
The groomer gave me some shampoo to use that wouldn’t remove her Frontline and gave me some tips. Her biggest tip was to let her sit in the tub as long as possible to drown the fleas. It was a flea graveyard in there. There were hundreds and hundreds of dead flea floaters. So gross.
After all that I’d accomplished in one day, I was feeling pretty psyched. This HAD to work, right?
That joy lasted for about an hour until the cat jumped up on my lap, apparently deciding her insatiable need to be petted was stronger than her anger at me. As I started petting her, I gave her a close look and to my horror I saw dozens of fleas crawling all over.
Then, within an hour, my leg looked like this.
Those are itchy, painful flea bites all over my lower leg.
I spent all day today (Sunday) continuing with the massive cleaning. All the upholstery and floors got vacuumed again (and yes, I’m immediately dumping the contents from the vacuum cleaner and taking it to the outside garbage can as soon as I’m done). There were 6 more loads of laundry (more towels, clothes, etc).
I ran to the pet store for a flea comb, and Blue got yet another bath. And somehow another 200 or so fleas came off her in the bath. This time, I combed and combed her, trying to get them all. I thought I’d done a better job … until I combed her again an hour later. Yup, they’re still there.
I give up. I freaking give up. I’m at a loss. What do I do? The Terminex guy told me that we’re doing everything we can do and that after this spraying we should start seeing less and less fleas. But I have no faith. If we’re right back where we started in another two weeks, I’m thinking of just walking away from the house forever. That way seems easier.