We recently got asked: “Is it possible to have cat flea larvae in my bowels?” The woman who asked this explained that the “cat flea larvae” looks like rice. She also wants to know what cat flea larvae in carpet look like? Finally, she wonders if all 4 stages of fleas bite?
We are happy to provide some information about fleas including what they look like and if they bite. However, first we must address the rice-looking creatures she saw in her bowels. We think this may be a tapeworm. Tapeworms are segmented worms that live in the intestines of some animals and humans. Humans might get a tapeworm when they eat infected meat. The segments of a tapeworm break off of the larger worm, and exit the human through bowel movements. What our reader described as “rice” could be a tapeworm segment. We encourage her to see a doctor immediately!
Now, on to cat fleas and their larvae. Cat fleas live on both cats and dogs. The adults are small and dark brown or black with compressed bodies. The larvae that you might find in carpeting look like small grubs, meaning they might also resemble a piece of rice, depending on perspective.
Adult fleas live on their host, usually either a dog or cat. Female adults lay eggs on their host, and the eggs fall onto carpets, pet bedding, under furniture, and anywhere else the host might wander to. After the eggs hatch, the larval stage lasts 5-15 days. Larvae prefer to develop in protected, dark areas. As opposed to mature fleas, the larvae don’t consume blood. Instead they eat almost any kind of organic debris around the, but rely on “flea dirt” (which is adult fecal matter) for nutritional needs. To answer our reader’s question, flea larvae do not bite, only the adults consume blood.
To conclude, one of our readers asked us about cat flea larvae in bowel movements. We think what she described sounds more like a tapeworm than flea larvae. We encourage her to see a medical professional as soon as possible.