Bed bugs, feared across all cities in the world, are simply gross. Finding out that you have bed bugs in your house is pretty stressful, as bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate and can wreak havoc on an otherwise peaceful home. It’s about the same as having fleas, which can be particularly dangerous to kittens.
There are many ways to get rid of bed bugs, though none of them are particularly pleasant (sprays, heat treatments, cold treatments, etc.) and you have to be sure to get rid of every single bug, or they are liable to come back.
But what about your feline friends? How will having bed bugs in your home affect them and, most importantly, can cats carry bed bugs?
In this article, we’ll cover the following;
- Can Cats Carry Bed Bugs?
- Are Bed Bugs Dangerous for Cats?
- How To Protect Your Cat from Bed Bugs
- How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs and Keep Your Cat Safe
Can Cats Carry Bed Bugs?
So, you found out that you have bed bugs. Maybe you found little bites on your legs, or maybe you’re inexplicably itchy during the night. In either case, your home is host to the tiny little terrors we call bed bugs. Naturally, one of your first thoughts will be your cat. Did your cat bring them inside the house?
Well, before blaming your furry friend, here are a few facts about bedbugs and cats:
- Bed bugs don’t like fur! Because they are nearly microscopic, the abundant fur on your cat’s body presents quite a challenge for them. Bed bugs have a very hard time moving around through fur, and will choose less furry hosts (such as humans) over pets any day of the week.
- Bed bugs can bite cats. Despite their preference for hairless prey, bed bugs will bite and feed off cats if there aren’t any other hosts available. However, because they don’t particularly want to deal with cat fur, bed bugs are unlikely to spend too much time on a cat’s body. This means that it’s very unlikely your cat is the reason bed bugs got into your home.
Here’s a bed bug bite up close to show you just how terrible they can be;
Are Bed Bugs Dangerous for Cats?
While fleas and ticks can transmit diseases from one animal to another, the good news about bed bugs is that they are not known to transmit disease. Unfortunately, the good news ends there, because bed bugs can elicit an allergic reaction in your feline friend.
If your cat is scratching excessively, and you know you have bed bugs, it’s very likely that your cat has been bitten and may be allergic to the bites. To alleviate the itchiness and reduce the risk of skin infections, it’s important to take action.
Is your cat itchy like the one in the video below? Bed bugs may be the culprit!
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your cat is safe when you have an infestation of bed bugs:
- Wash all of your cats bedding and any plush toys. Gather up any cloth that your cat touches (bedding, sheets, towels, toys, etc.) and wash them on the hottest cycle you have on your washing machine. Then, make sure to put them on the dryer at the hottest setting. The heat and water will kill the bed bugs.
- If you have any doubts, put any linens your cat uses in plastic bags and leave them there for a few weeks to suffocate any remaining bugs. Bed bugs lay many eggs each day, and those eggs hatch within a week or so. By leaving bedding in a tightly closed plastic bag for two weeks, you can be sure that the bugs will be dead by the time you open it back up.
- Watch for signs that your cat is uncomfortable. If your cat is scratching a lot and seems miserable, keep a close eye on them. Cats who are constantly biting themselves to relieve the itch may vomit or show other signs of distress. Since cats hate being uncomfortable, they might put their ears back more often.
- Bathe your cat. While giving your cat a bath might sound like the most stressful thing ever (and your cat might not be too pleased) it’s worth it if it will relieve their itching. Consulting with your veterinarian for a bed bug shampoo that is safe for cats (bed bug shampoo for dogs that you find at the pet store may be harmful to cats).
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs and Keep Your Cat Safe
Most people get a little desperate at the prospect of having to rid their home of bed bugs. Luckily, there are many treatments out there that have proven effective in getting rid of these tiny pests. But are they safe for cats?
Not all bed bug remedies are safe for our feline friends. As a loving cat owner, you’ll want to be sure that the treatment you choose won’t hurt your pet.
There are many chemical treatments on the market. Some are safe for house pets, and some aren’t. Here are a few tips to get rid of bed bugs while keeping your cat safe:
- Consult with your veterinarian. They will likely have recommendations for local pest control companies that use products that are safe for animals.
- Tell any pest control company you hire that you have pets. They come across this situation a lot, and will be able to advise you.
- Research! Don’t assume a product is safe just because it says that it is. Do research and consult with your veterinarian and other reliable sources before committing to a pest control treatment for bed bugs.
- Arrange for your cat to be out of the house during treatment. We know cats don’t particularly like to be moved, but safety comes first. Ask a trusted friend or family member to cat sit while your house is being treated for bed bugs.
- If you choose to treat your home yourself, be very sure to find a pet-friendly product. Don’t assume because it is safe for dogs that it is safe for cats. If you have doubts, call the manufacturer and ask. Then, be sure to follow the directions carefully.
So, Can Cats Carry Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs don’t live on their hosts, and they don’t like fur, so it’s very unlikely that your cat is the one who carried bed bugs into the house. It is more likely that bed bugs found their way into your home on linens, suitcases, briefcases, backpacks, or used mattresses.
Here are a few final reminders about cats and bed bugs:
- While cats can suffer from bed bug bites, the bugs don’t live on animals permanently like lice, as they prefer to hide in soft surfaces such as mattresses and carpet.
- If your cat is allergic to bed bug bites, you can brush them and bathe them to alleviate the itching. But there is no need to treat them with any chemicals.
- Wash all of your cats bedding, cloth toys, and anything else they come into contact with on the hottest cycle on your washing machine and dryer. This should be done for all linens in the house.
- Make sure to use only pet-friendly products when treating your home for bed bugs.
Have you been the unlucky victim of bed bugs? How did you and your cat deal with them? If you have any advice or questions, let us know in the comments!
After moving to New York City from Rome, Italy, I began working in the nonprofit world. Despite my day job, my passion has always been animals, especially dogs and cats, and writing. What better way to combine the two? I’ve been a pet owner for 15 years, and my menagerie includes dogs, cats, hamsters and the occasional hermit crab. My beloved cat, Mozart, who I found as a newborn kitten, sparked my love for felines and is now nearly 15 years old. I am an enthusiastic volunteer at the local ASPCA, where I enjoy spending time with the cats and cleaning up after the dogs. I’ve been writing about pet ownership and care for the past five years.