Cat Fleas Vs Dog Fleas – A Deep Comparison

There are two main types of fleas that live on cats and dogs – cat fleas and dog fleas. If you want to know the difference between cat fleas vs dog fleas, read on!

  • When our vet informed us that we needed to start treating our dog for cat fleas, I was confused. We don’t have a cat and haven’t had any in our yard that I know of.

Let me surprise you!

  • One of the most frequent questions that pet owners ask is this: do cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) exclusively attack cats, while dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) live only off dogs?

So, how do cat fleas compare to dog fleas? While they’re different species (only differentiable under a microscope), dog and cat fleas can infest either cats or dogs. But cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are more common in North America than dog fleas.

Let’s check the details!

Comparison: Cat Fleas Vs Dog Fleas

1. Preferred Host?

Fleas feed and breed off the blood of warm-blooded hosts, and that’s how they make their way onto your cat or dog.

However, both cat and dog fleas do have the ability to survive off human blood for a few months.

Cat fleas are commonly found on both cats and dogs in North America, while dog fleas are found in Europe.

  • Cat fleas can live on different animals such as wild animals including opossums, birds, squirrels, foxes, mice, raccoons, and rats.

While it is impossible to know how your dog came in contact with fleas, chances are that he found them outside in the yard.

  • The flea eggs fall off flea-infested animal hosts and hatch to pupae when they land in a suitable environment, such as your yard and the pet’s sleeping area.

Within two days of exiting the pupae cocoon with an adult form, the adult flea finds a host animal and takes its first blood meal. After feeding, the flea quickly finds a dark place to wait for its next host.

  • Cat fleas are also better adapted to finding hosts in areas with low levels of light and higher concentrations of carbon dioxide around their host’s head as they move around the animal’s body.

Related: Should a dog with fleas sleep in my bed?

2. Geographic Distribution

Cat fleas can be found on both dogs and cats, but one of the most important differences between cat and dog flea populations has been their geographic distribution:

  • Cat Fleas – Found mainly in warmer habitats with higher humidity levels like in North America, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama;
  • Dog Fleas – Commonly found throughout Canada until New England.

If you’re unsure where your pet picked up a flea population problem, it may help to know that when cats spend time outside they are at risk of becoming a host for both types of fleas, whereas dogs are more likely to be infested with dog fleas.

Related: Controlling Fleas on my Bed

3. Size Comparison – Cat Fleas versus Dog Fleas

Another difference between cat and dog fleas is that the former is smaller.

So, how big is a cat flea?

  • Length of adult cat flea ranges from 1.5 – 3.2 millimeters (1/8” and brownish-black or reddish black after feeding) with the females being slightly larger.
  • The female cat fleas have an average body length of 2.5 mm while the male cat flea length is around under 1 mm.
  • The heads of the female cat fleas are smaller and look disproportionate due to being very long.

And, how big is a dog flea?

  • Dog fleas have a length of 1.5 – 3.2 millimeters (1/8”) and are brownish-black in color as well, but they have a lighter abdomen with dark brown stripes on the back of their bodies.

The head or called capitulum is relatively larger than cat fleas’ heads which makes them look disproportionally large for their body size.

Do Cat Fleas Infest Dogs?

Yes, cat fleas can infest a dog. Cat fleas jump from the cat to dogs, other animals, and humans.

They will primarily feed on cats but they may also bite domesticated pets such as rabbits, ferrets, and guinea pigs or wild animals like squirrels.

Can fleas transfer from cats to dogs? Yes, fleas can transfer between cats and dogs.

Yes, it is possible for your dog to get fleas from cats, especially if they live in North America where cat fleas very common.

Can Cat Fleas Live On Humans?

Both cat fleas and dog fleas don’t live on humans but they can still bite you, but they will not reproduce off the human blood.

  • It is believed that this is because only the cat’s saliva triggers a response from eggs to hatch and larvae to develop into adults.
  • The egg may also need higher levels of heat or humidity than what people generally experience in their homes for it to fully mature.

Cat fleas do not tend to go onto a human host more than once, preferring instead to remain with cats.

They are attracted by body warmth and carbon dioxide given off by breathing as well as a movement that could be caused by scratching an itch.

Flea bites cause itching around the bite site and sometimes swelling or hives; some people have sensitive skin reactions such as dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis after being bitten

What about human hair?

Fleas can hide temporarily in human hair when they cannot find their preferred animal hosts.

But usually, fleas won’t live in human hair since it doesn’t offer the same protection from sunlight and dryness that pet fur does.

Can cat fleas live on your clothes?

No, clothes and other fabrics (sheets, pillows) will not provide fleas with an environment in which they can survive.

However, fleas may hide on hems of clothing for a maximum of 24 hours. It is unlikely that fleas will remain on your clothes for long because they feed so often.

Their eggs may also be present on the garments.

  • If these items are not washed or dry cleaned before they’re worn again, fleas can end up traveling onto a person’s body and causing an infestation.
  • The best way to prevent this is by either washing clothes after you wear them or putting all of your clothing into the drier for at least I hour (or until it comes out completely dry).

Flea eggs have been found in carpeting and upholstery – these eggs hatch into larvae that cannot move by themselves.

  • So it is important to vacuum regularly when pets live indoors as well as treat with an insecticide if necessary.

Will Dog Flea Treatment Kill Cat Fleas?

Yes, dog flea treatment can kill cat fleas. It only takes one bite from a dog carrying both types of parasites and the feline will become infested with both species of parasite at once, which is bad news for your kitty.

The good news is that we have products like Bravecto® to protect against ticks too!

Our veterinarian doctors recommend you speak with them about what product would be best for your pet’s needs today when they come into our office or call us if you are thinking about ordering online or purchasing it in-store.

Once a year, our vet recommends an examination by a doctor because there could be issues other than just pests on board; things such as allergies (fleas love going after dogs who suffer from the skin.

  • Eggs have been found in carpeting and upholstery, so it’s important to vacuum regularly and treat with insecticide if necessary.
  • Pet owners should comb their pets twice a day while they’re infested because mature fleas may not be present on the pet 100% of the time – therefore preventing accidental transmission.

If you are going outside with your dog, make sure that he has had his monthly flea preventive recently (check expiration date) as this medication can also kill adult cat fleas!

How Do I Treat my Home for Dog Flea and Cat Fleas?

To treat an existing infestation: You will need to;

– Vacuum all floors (including under furniture) and carpets, upholstery in your home at least once every three days until no signs of fleas are found.

– Clean pet bedding at least once a week so that you can get rid of any eggs or larvae your pets may have brought into the home.

– It is important to use warm water and soap on these fabrics which will kill the flea eggs, prevent new infestations from taking hold in the fabric.

Treat the yard with an appropriate pesticide if there’s evidence of adult cat fleas outside; make sure it’s safe for pets before applying!

– Chemical sprays are effective but may pose a health hazard to children or pets if not used correctly.

– For severe cases of infestation, speak with your veterinarian about an oral medication that can be given monthly to kill adult fleas on the pet as well as in the environment.

– You also need to comb your pup twice a day while it’s infested so mature insects won’t lay new eggs – which could then end up living off of other animals in the house.

– You can also put your pup in a flea bath that is meant to kill all stages of the life cycle, including eggs!

– If you’re concerned about pesticides around kids and pets, try using natural methods like diatomaceous earth (DE), which kills any insects by dehydrating them as they walk over its fine particles.

– Use flea foggers or bombs to exterminate the whole flea population in the residence.


On the subject, “cat fleas vs dog fleas” – there are a few different differences that you should know about.

Cat fleas are more common than dog fleas in North America, but dog fleas are more commonly found in Europe.

Flea bites can cause itching around the bite site. Some people have sensitive skin reactions such as dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis after being bitten.

Fleas usually won’t live in human hair because it doesn’t offer the same protection from sunlight and dryness that pet fur does.


Recent Posts