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Keywords:

  • Cat;
  • flea abundance;
  • parasite distribution;
  • Spain

Fleas are a common cause of feline skin disorders as well as vectors of zoonotic diseases. This study evaluated the flea species infesting domestic cats in Spain and assessed factors influencing their distribution. Fleas from 217 cats from 57 localities in Spain were identified and associations between abundance, and host-dependent, host habitat and environmental factors were examined. Variations in infracommunity and component community structure were also explored. Three species were present, of which Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) was the most abundant (98.4%), followed by Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis) (1.1%) and Pulex irritans (L.) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) (0.5%). Overall abundance and abundances of both C. felis and C. canis were higher on farms than in apartments, but overall flea abundance and abundances of both C. felis and C. canis were lower in rural than urban environments. Overall abundance and C. felis abundance were lower during the warmest months, and mean annual rainfall was positively correlated with overall, C. felis and C. canis abundances. No relationship between the number of species per cat and any host, habitat or physiographical variable was found. Species richness was not correlated with mean annual temperature or rainfall. Flea abundance was mainly associated with host habitat and environmental factors.