Four groups of six cats were kept in carpeted pens similarly infected with Ctenocephalides felis. One group was left untreated, but the other groups were treated every 28th day with either an insecticide (fenthion at 30 mg); or an inhibitor of insect development (lufenuron at 133 or 266 mg) or with both. A sudden upsurge in the numbers of fleas occurred on the control cats after 50 days. At this time, the three control strategies had reduced the counts by 91.3, 72.5 and 98.6 per cent, respectively. Thereafter, welfare considerations demanded the limitation of the flea burden on the control cats, but conditions were shown to be favourable for flea development throughout the study. The mean numbers of fleas on the treated groups after six months were 1.2, 11.0 and 0.4, respectively. After this, in addition to the fleas acquired in the pen, the cats were each infected weekly with five fleas to mimic roaming animals introducing extraneous fleas into the home. This produced no obvious effect on the counts and the mean values three months later were 0.5, 11.0 and 0.2, respectively. None of the strategies eradicated the flea population but they all reduced the numbers considerably and worked equally well whether or not small numbers of new fleas were introduced into the system. Significantly lower flea counts were maintained in the early and later stages of the study by the strategies including the insecticide.
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