Grooming and control of fleas in cats

Robert A. Eckstein, Benjamin Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Oral grooming is common in cats, as in rodent and bovid species where grooming has been shown to be effective in removing lice and ticks. In Experiment 1, we examined the effectiveness of oral grooming in removing fleas which are the main ectoparasite of cats. Elizabethan collars (E-collars) which prevented grooming were fitted on nine cats in a flea-infested household and 3 weeks later, flea numbers on these cats were compared with nine control cats in the same household. Flea numbers dropped in the control cats reflecting an apparent drop in adult fleas in the environment, but in the E-collar cats, flea numbers did not drop, and were about twice as numerous as in control cats. The significantly greater number of fleas on the E-collar cats was attributed to their inability to groom off fleas. In Experiment 2, videotaping of nine different cats from the flea-infested household revealed that these cats groomed at about twice the rate of 10 similarly videotaped control cats from a flea-free colony. These results reveal that flea exposure can increase grooming rate in cats and that grooming is effective in removing fleas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-150
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2000


  • Cats
  • Ectoparasites
  • Fleas
  • Grooming behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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