A reader recently reached out to us about a specimen she discovered on her cat’s head. She would like us to identify the creature if possible. She included two photos. The first photograph shows the cat’s head from far away. You can see the specimen above the cat’s left eye. From far away, the creature appears to have a dark brown head and tail, but it is lighter brown in the middle:
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Since the photo was taken at a distance from the creature, we can’t determine much about it besides color. Luckily our reader also included a photograph that shows a lot more detail of the creature in question. The second photo confirms what we thought about the coloring of the creature. We can also see that the specimen has a segmented body:
After examining both photographs, we suspect that the creature on the cat’s head is a flea. Fleas are extremley small, flat body insects that are dark brown in color. However, they appear lighter brown after ingesting blood. Fleas are extremely common parasitic insects and most domestic cats get fleas at least once in their lifetime (especially outdoor cats!) Some of the telltale signs that a cat is infected with fleas include excessive grooming and scratching, and the presence of small bumps and crusted areas along the neck and back. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options for fleas. We recommend that our reader take her cat to the vet as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and to decide on the best treatment plan for her cat.
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In summary, a reader sent us a photograph of a brown insect she noticed on her cat’s head. While the specimen has some resemblance to a carpet beetle larva, we believe the creature is probably a flea. We encourage our reader to visit the vet for a definite diagnosis and to start treatment.