Wednesday, October 3, 2007

And in this flea our two bloods mingled be

Photo from Microscopy-UK


If you read my earlier post about Grand Old Man, Feline King of the Daisy Household, you know he went in for a body shave and flea bath last week. Danelle informed me there were "a few fleas"--which is always surprising since my cats don't go outside. I don't think I've had a flea problem since first acquiring them--and since they were throwaways, they DID have fleas when I rescued them. But, oh, that's all in the past, dear reader, all in the in the past, as I have told myself countless times. No fleas in here! Nosirree Bob!

But there he was, the redoubtable Grand Old Man (herein referred to as GOM), on top of the dryer (where he enjoys sitting, since it's warm and cozy)... and I saw... what is -that?-... on his newly-shaven skin. It's---MOVING! OH MY GOD!!!! A MOVING BLACK SPOT!!!! AIYEEEEEEE! (((shrieks)))

And yes, I picked it off, and it wiggled and jumped away.


I hate them, with every fiber of my being. As a vegetarian, I have guilt over hating any species of God's creatures; hence, I do what every good Christian has historically done: I have consigned rats, cockroaches, fleas and flies to THE DEVIL. That's probably not fair, and yeah, I know the Hindus like the rats and maintain they are really holy (apparently, they are a lot better-behaved over there?) and primarily for this reason, I try to hold off on the rats. But FLEAS!?! NOOOOOOOooooooOOOOOOH! I can NOT abide the evil parasites, bringer of plagues, NASTY THINGS!

Some background is in order.

My initial war with the fleas commenced at age 19, when I dealt with my first overwhelming infestation in my first apartment. For some reason, they ate me alive. Not sure why; they don't seem too interested in biting me now, thank heavens. (Body chemistry changes? Science geeks, please explain!) But there was horrible, pathological itching and swelling from nearly every bite (there were dozens), and every wee tickle I experienced made me even more insane. I would hurriedly look to see if it was a FLEA creating the tickle, and about half the time, it surely was--just often enough to drive me paranoid-raving-batshit. I started keeping a 24-hour flea-vigil. I classified certain areas in my apartment Where The Fleas Are. I went a little berserk, constantly checking myself for those telltale evil black dots that would be there, and then (unlike dirt and lint) hop away, leaving a swollen red itchy welt in their wake.

I went to the library and studied the fleas. They can jump all over the place! They could jump halfway around the fucking world! Not to worry, dammit, I was DEDICATED! In my youthful exuberance and fired-up-flea-frenzy, I was gonna drive them out. I became obsessed, like Peter Weller became obsessed with the rat in OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN. I was gonna GET RID OF THEM if it was the LAST THING I DID!!! Being a good hippie, I started off with politically-correct cloves and lavender from the co-op where I then worked. Ha! They are laughing at you and your pissant cloves! They are eating cloves for breakfast! YUM YUM, say the fleas! CLOVES!

I also dutifully ingested the substances that supposedly make the fleas take a bite of you and then say -ptui!- and spit you out and never come back. Nutritional yeast, brewer's yeast, B-12, blah blah blah. The fleas loved it all, and came back for seconds and thirds. (They particularly liked the brewer's yeast, causing my grandmother to wonder aloud if they were Irish fleas. :P)

Thus, I upped the ante and bombed my apartment with what I now know was a panoply of carcinogenic substances, without even waiting for the prescribed period of time to pass before trying again. Like the cloves, the fleas lapped up the chemicals, growing ever larger and more bold. Just as anti-bacterial soaps and antibiotics are now breeding superbugs, I was breeding them, too.

I even risked my life by giving all four of my cats (count 'em, four) flea baths, which was exactly like when Porky tried to give Sylvester a bath, if you saw that famous episode. The claws sunk deep, deep, into my skin, and I still have a scar from one of them. One of them seemed to be trying to climb up my skull.

Cats, you may have heard, do not like baths.

At some point, I entered what I call flea-psychosis and started attributing characteristics to them, which is possibly a side effect of too much LSD (nobody's perfect). I began to think of them as having personalities, like Socrates and Ben in WILLARD: We will wait until she is peaking on acid and then bite her, and she won't know if she actually saw us or not, since we are little black dots that jump away with lightening speed! (Yes, they really said this; I heard them!)

And so, for years, I engaged in FLEA WARS.

Finally, some years ago, I decided to keep all my cats inside, and that seemed to handle the problem, at long last. As animal rights people have increasingly counseled folks to keep cats inside to conserve the dwindling bird populations (particularly in growing suburbs), I also got the bonus of feeling morally righteous, which is always a big plus. (Also, it was so nice not to worry about my babies getting hit by cars.) But of course, you know the real reason! Totally selfish!

And now, I see MOVING DOTS ON MY GOM! (((shrieks)))

I hightailed it to the vet and got more chemicals, which I had discontinued on my cats some years ago, thinking it was safe to do so because they were flea-free. Ha! I should have known that Ben and Socrates would be back.

And so that's what I've been doing lately. How about yourselves?


Bryce said...

fleas always bite F. but not me. my sister used to get bit but we didn't. wonder why they bite some people & not others. if they bit me i'd prob go nuts on em too.

kactus said...

Oh god, Daisy, that sounds exactly like a horrible flea infestation I got back in the early 80s. I also went a bit batshit trying to get rid of them, but it was futile. I finally moved--that's how bad it was.

alphabitch said...

My lovely ex-wife and I moved into our first house together with such optimism and cheerfulness, certain that her (evil) cat Loretta and my Edie and Anna would learn, over time, to -- well, if not to love each other, then to at least, eventually, cease hostilities. That first little place was carpeted, and its previous occupants had a yappy little dog. I'd never experienced fleas before. And yeah, I am the kind of person who takes spiders outside. Hates killing and poisoning. But the cats were so freaking miserable, that we really did have to do something. I asked around, consulted, put pennyroyal everywhere, and added garlic to their food, and brewer's yeast. We had to start with the chemicals, though, because it turned out that poor Anna was allergic to fleas, and started to scratch herself raw.

We vacuumed every day, which of course cats love, and had to dip them in flea dip four or five times before the whole thing was over. Loretta was particularly difficult, but they all hated it. And my lovely ex-wife would stand there saying 'stop it, you're hurting her!!!' And I"m the one bleeding, and soaking wet, and the cats all despise me.

I eventually figured out that I could dip Loretta much more easily in water if I put her into a pillowcase from the neck down. She wasn't happy, but she couldn't hurt me and the whole thing was over much faster.

Oof, that was a horrible time, but everyone survived.

A.W. said...

I managed to throw my back out because of fleas once, (was horrible, I had to find someone else to tie my shoes, and getting dressed was a joke) vile lttle buggers, and I still tend to get slightly paranoid about tickles when I know there's animals in the vicinity because I couldn't get rid of the them for so damn long. Winter finally took care of it since the bombs weren't working, although I'm suprised they managed to live in such cold temperatures for as long as they did. You see, I was rather desperate and at one point I was sleeping for several months on the highest piece of furniture I owned with the windows cracked open and no heat so they'd freeze to death. (slippery veneer, so they couldn't climb it, with absolutely no blankets slipping down, I didn't want them investigating what that hanging piece of cloth was and finding me) thinking they couldn't get me up there, and I had a glass of Very Hot Water on the shelf below me for when they snuck past my careful vigilence. Then there was the empty soda bottle half-filled with water with a nice, replacable cap where you could watch them drown and get personal satisfaction, although developing a method for actually getting them in the bottle was a bit tricky. I loath fleas, was the only insect that managed to drive me to the brink, so I s'pose they get some kudos for that. Granted, the ends I went to were lightly wacky, but I figured desperate times called for desperate measures.

A.W. said...

The irony, of course, was that in the state of hyper awareness/'vigilence', I think it took me a bit longer than it probably would have normally to trust that they were gone. Would've been a lot less pain if those bombs worked.

Cassandra Says said...

Fleas don't bite me, which is odd. Mosquitos love me.

Odd question that you seem like you may know the answer to - is Advantix really safe? My cat is an escape artist and occasionally gets out, and every time it happens he seems to come back bearing evil little passengers. I keep hearing people singing the praises of Advantix, but I can't help thinking that anything toxic enough to kill fleas that bit a cat might not be very good for the cat. Anyone have an idea how it actually works and if they've even bothered to study long-term side effects?