Are you looking for the best flea treatment for cats? Alternatively, are you trying to search for safer ways on how to get rid of fleas on kittens?
Cats are naturally adorable and charming. Their affectionate characteristic and appealing beauty are some of the things that make them so fascinating.
No one can resist the cuteness of cats. Sad to say, these lovely pets are also the favorite targets of pesky parasites such as fleas, ticks, and lice.
We don't want our beloved pets to serve as unwilling hosts to these icky parasites.
If you find your cat frequently scratching or chewing its skin, that’s an early sign of a possible infestation.
Although our feline friends are independent by nature, there are things that they can’t just do on their own. Namely, one of these things is to get rid of fleas.
As pet owners, it is our responsibility to keep our pets adequately groomed and free from any annoying pest that could irritate and harm them in the long run.
It is our job as pet owners to understand the different methods of flea treatment for cats and choose the best for our pet.
Moreover, protecting our cats from fleas and lice doesn’t only benefit our pets, but it also helps us. It is essential to take note that insects can also find their way to human hosts.
Moreover, trust us when we say this, you certainly won’t like it when they plague you.
Just thinking about fleas swarming over our skin is disgusting on its own. Imagine how our cats feel about being victimized by these bloodsuckers.
Moreover, all that they could do is scratch their skin in frustration because they can’t get rid of the fleas by themselves.
Flea treatment for cats comes in several ways and methods. You can choose natural flea treatment for cats to do the trick, or you can opt for medications that are commercially available in the market.
Either way is useful in their ways, and it would all boil down to your preference. Of course, eliminating the fleas on your cat isn't the end.
Remember that parasites are likely to come back at the time when you least expect them to.
Namely, this means that you have to be vigilant and make sure to protect your cat from a possible flea recurrence.
Now if you’re ready to fight off the fleas and liberate your cat from exasperation, let’s get into full gear and prepare for extermination.
As the saying goes, “the only way to win a battle is to know your enemy.” We might be able to use this in our quest to defeat our common enemy here – the fleas.
How much do you know about these irksome parasites? Gathering relevant information about their behavior, diets and life cycle can help us understand the best possible ways to eliminate them for good.
More importantly, we have to trace back to where they originated. Moreover, how did they come in contact with your cat?
First, let’s take a look at their behavior. Fleas may not have wings to fly like most insects, but they are excellent jumpers.
They are also blessed with sharp claws that allow them to grasp on a host without fail.
Moreover, to make it worse, they are endowed with a laterally compressed body that allows them to move freely through the coat on the host's body while having the ability to withstand enormous pressure from scratching.
Sounds like a formidable foe, right? Majority of flea infestations originate from the outdoors especially in the shaded areas of yards where pets usually rest.
Namely, this means that a pet can get fleas from decks, porches, bushes, crawlspaces, shrubs, and other covered, shady areas.
Fleas can also be transferred from one location to another as they can jump off to another host.
For example, your neighbor's dog has acquired fleas from a park where many pets walk. Your neighbor brought the dog inside your home when they visited you.
The infected dog comes near your kitty. Some of the fleas jump off from the dog to your kitty.
So, you see? Even if your kitty doesn’t take a step outside the house, fleas can still find their way if they had the chance.
A pet acquiring a small number of 3 or 4 fleas may not sound too intimidating. However, you'll be surprised to know that it is.
Namely, fleas reproduce at an enormous rate. Picture this; one female insect lays up to 50 eggs per day.
If you disregard the fleas on your pet, you’re letting them spread and reproduce rapidly. Also, every day that passes by multiplies the amount of agony that your pet suffers.
Additionally, infestation becomes quicker if you have more pets in the house. More pets only mean more hosts, and more hosts mean more chances of survival for these fleas.
You may be able to get rid the fleas on your cat. However, if you fail to eliminate all the fleas on your other pets, then your kitty will eventually catch them again. Thus, continuing the cycle.
The only way to get rid of the flea infestation for good is to eliminate every one of them, and not a single flea must survive.
Hence, this is why it is essential to learn the different methods of flea treatment for cats.
Adult fleas typically measure 1.5 to 3.2 mm in length but don’t let their size fool you.
They may be small, but they pose a significant danger to your pet. They are indeed the perfect epitome of “small but terrible” creatures.
The cat may manifest irritation and restlessness especially when the fleas start feeding on its blood.
Insects can turn your usually happy pet into a grumpy one. Also, you only have the fleas to blame for it.
However, there are more harmful effects of fleas on cats that we need to be more concerned with:
Fleas bite the skin of their host to suck its blood. Sad to say but this is their only way to survive, by feeding on their host.
You may have known it already, but flea bites are itchy and sometimes painful.
Most of the time, flea bites result in red spots and inflammation that can cause intense discomfort on the part of the host.
If you see your pet scratching or licking at its fur, take that as a warning of a possible flea infestation.
Due to persistent scratching and chewing, your pet is at high risk of cutting its skin which can then lead to infection.
It may also pull out clumps of hair that may leave bald patches on its fur.
Flea allergic dermatitis is widespread in cats, especially kittens. The hypersensitivity causes this skin disease to the flea saliva which can result in intense itching.
Although symptoms may vary depending on the degree of sensitivity, the typical symptoms may include the appearance of scabs or papules on the skin, open sores caused by severe scratching, unpleasant skin odor, and thinning or balding of the coat.
Medications such as antihistamines and hypo-sensitization antigens are administered to ease the symptoms of the allergy.
Antibiotics and other topical medications can be used to treat bacterial skin infections caused by excessive biting and scratching.
Cats can acquire tapeworms by ingesting a flea that has eaten tapeworm eggs.
When cats lick or nibble at their fur, they are likely to ingest the fleas.
So if by chance they have ingested an infected flea, the tapeworm eggs which were carried by the insect can reach the intestines and hatch.
As a result, tapeworms rapidly multiply in the cat’s intestines that can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.
The kitty also manifests a drastic loss in weight because the tapeworms are robbing the host of all the nutrients.
A dewormer tablet known as praziquantel is the only known ingredient that can kill tapeworm.
It paralyzes the tapeworm to cause it to remove its grip on the bowel wall. The paralyzed tapeworm is then flushed out through the feces.
Before deciding on specific flea treatment for cats, you need to make sure that you need it in the first place.
Detecting the presence of fleas on cats is simple and straightforward.
Early signs and symptoms of flea infestation are very noticeable provided that you keep an eye on the condition of your cat on a regular basis.
Here are the signs that you need to watch out.
Cats are the epitome of cleanliness. Specifically, they always make sure that they are clean at all times.
Cats have the habit of grooming themselves by licking their coats and forepaws. So they often use their teeth to dig out dried out dirt from their fur.
However, if you notice them restlessly scratching with a hint of agitation on their expression, it means there must be something that is bothering them.
Well, fleas are the only probable culprits if that is the case.
Cats often shake their head and scratch their ears in frustration. So they even desperately chew on some regions of their body.
Your cat is likely to have fleas if you observe a sudden change in its behavior. The itchy and bothersome bites of insects can adversely disrupt the carefree nature of your pet.
If your usually happy-go-lucky cat suddenly becomes irritable and grumpy, then you must take this sign seriously.
In severe cases, you can almost visibly notice some fleas moving and jumping on and off your pet’s body.
Fleas have small, flat bodies that make it easier for them to hide in the cat’s fur. Furthermore, their dark brown color helps them camouflage themselves against dark-furred kitties.
However, their dark color suddenly turns into a lighter shade, and they usually swell after ingesting blood.
Take time to check your cat’s coats and skin, especially on the areas where fleas are most likely to hide.
Fleas typically dwell in areas that are warm and dark. Check the cat’s armpits and groin because these are usually the ideal areas for their hiding place.
Furthermore, don’t forget to check your pet’s ears. Your cat may develop an ear hematoma where blood and serum are accumulated between the cartilage and skin of the outer ear.
An ear hematoma is often caused by flea bites that trigger the cat to scratch its ears or shake its head excessively.
You can also notice thinning of hair or balding on some areas of the cat’s body. Namely, this is due to constant and excessive scratching.
The skin on the groin, belly, or the base of the tail may appear bumpy and red. Also, you can even spot some black spots along with scabs on the skin.
You can ease all of these symptoms by administering the right flea treatment for cats.
You've probably seen them in some advertisements and TV commercials. There are several flea treatment for cats that you can buy to help you get rid of them.
While the options are too many, you may find it challenging to pick the right product for your pet.
These treatment products are using different types of ingredients, but they all fall into three major categories:
Most flea medicines make use of elements that can kill these bugs by attacking their nervous system.
Pesticides such as nitenpyram, imidacloprid, fipronil, and dinotefuran are the most common solutions for flea infestation on cats.
While insecticides kill fleas by targeting their nervous system, IGRs work differently by targeting their hormones. IGRs don’t instantly kill these bugs.
utHowever, they alter their hormones to destroy their reproductive abilities. When the bug can no longer develop and lay eggs, their life cycle stops, and they eventually die out.
Most IGRs in the market are using ingredients such as (s)-methoprene and pyriproxyfen in the form of topical, shampoo, and collar.
Synergists are chemicals that have a minimal impact on these bugs when used on their own.
However, when used together with insecticides, they intensify the effect of active ingredients to help kill fleas faster and more effectively.
Fleas tend to resist insecticides, and they may bounce back from the initial paralysis.
Also, when pests become resistant to pesticides, they will survive no matter how many times you use it against them.
Synergists such as n-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide and piperonyl butoxide work to improve the efficacy of active ingredients in the insecticides, particularly when resistance has arisen.
Insecticide synergists can be found in powders and shampoos mostly used as flea treatment for cats.
Let's not forget that while insecticides, IGRs, and synergists are effective in killing these type of bugs, we can’t deny the fact that they are chemical compounds.
Overexposure to chemicals can pose some harmful side effects on your pet especially if they are misused.
All flea treatment products in the market are required to list down all the active ingredients they used. So, take advantage of this detail.
Take time to read the list of active ingredients and determine if the flea treatment for cats that you’ve chosen is right for your pet.
While you’re at it, you may want to watch out and avoid these following ingredients:
Some flea collars include this organophosphate insecticide to kill them. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned the public about its possible risks.
Side effects of using tetrachlorvinphos may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, paralysis, and even death.
The side effects could also be transmitted to other animals and humans who come in contact with the insecticide through the collars.
Propoxur is a carbamate insecticide with a fast and long-residual effect against fleas.
Some flea collar products and powders include this chemical to block the production of the essential enzyme in the pest's nervous system.
Without this enzyme, the nervous system will fail to result in paralysis and death.
However, the risk of carbamate poisoning pushed EPA to disallow its use on animals in 2016.
The symptoms of carbamate poisoning include headaches, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle twitching. In some severe cases, carbamate poisoning could also lead to death.
Despite the warning from EPA, some companies still include this insecticide in their products. So, you need to watch out for this.
Pyrethrins are naturally found in chrysanthemum flowers, but this compound is highly toxic to insects.
This compound can be found in some powders, shampoos, and sprays.
Unfortunately, the toxicity of pyrethrins can also cause severe implications in pets, especially cats.
Compared to dogs, kittens lack the necessary liver enzymes to metabolize the pyrethrins as they are absorbed through the skin.
As a result, the kitty also suffers the danger of the compound.
Overexposure to pyrethrins can lead to vomiting, seizure, tremors, shaking, breathing difficulty, and hypothermia.
If you think pyrethrins are harmful, then you should be more alarmed with pyrethroids.
Pyrethrins are ‘naturally’ derived compounds from chrysanthemum flowers. On the other hand, pyrethroids are ‘chemically’ derived compounds from the same flower.
This makes pyrethroids more potent and more toxic than pyrethrins.
Different pyrethroid formulations can be found in the forms of spot-on, shampoos, sprays, collars, and other flea treatment for cats.
Inappropriate use of these products may lead to vomiting, seizure, muscle tremor, weight loss, weakness, and even death.
Selamectin is a topical insecticide that disables parasites by impairing and paralyzing their nerves and muscles.
This neuromuscular paralysis then leads to immediate death for the parasite.
However, that's not all. The kitty absorbs this substance through the skin and hair follicles.
Since it travels through the bloodstream, fleas can ingest the content when they feed on the cat's blood.
Although selamectin has been found to be safe on kitties, there are still those that manifest side effects.
Adverse effects may include salivation, rapid breathing, vomiting, lack of coordination, and diarrhea.
Since this substance is used as a topical medication, you might also see hair loss occurring at the application sites.
Buying bug treatment products in the market seems to like the easiest way to deal with infestations on your cat.
You can opt for tablets that are administered orally or soft chew alternatives. These oral drugs are considered one of the safest ways to get rid of fleas on cats.
However, some cat owners find it troublesome to cut the tablets and to force the kitty to swallow the drug.
If you and your pet are not comfortable with tablets, you can opt for spot-on medications that are more effective than oral pills.
Basically, this is because these topical medications contain insecticides and IGRs that can kill fleas and prevent them from developing and laying eggs.
Spot-on medications are also ideal for cat lice treatment and could also be used to get rid of ticks and mites.
However, many kitties seem to resent spot-on applications, and they tend to feel irritated when it touches their fur and skin.
Many pet owners still prefer collars due to its ease of use and lower cost compared to the other alternative medications stated earlier.
Flea collars are formulated with a substance that dissolves and spreads throughout the cat's skin.
Cheaper necklaces are found to repel bugs, but they are not powerful enough to kill them.
You may want to resort to more expensive collars that offer higher and more potent toxic substances. That is if you're going to kill the fleas, not just repel them.
You can adjust the collar to make sure that there's enough space to fit two fingers under the collar. See to it that your pet feels comfortable about wearing a collar.
Cut off any excess length to prevent the kitty from chewing on it.
However, collars may irritate your pet’s neck which can lead to hair loss and skin damage.
More importantly, you have to pay more attention to your cat when using flea collars.
Since these collars are not made elastic, these might get caught on something that can lead to choking.
Other alternatives such as powders, shampoos, and sprays are also available to be used to fight and stop fleas from coming back.
Over the counter flea treatment for cats can come in handy. However, are they worth it?
Admittedly, winning a battle against fleas is a fulfilling feat. Regardless of how you brutally employed deadly substances and such, victory, right?
Moreover, that's all that matters, or is it?
Sometimes, we are too occupied with effective methods on how to get rid of fleas on cats that we almost forget the well-being of our pet.
Mainly, this is why it's important to take precautions when dealing with these over the counter medications.
Improper usage and administration of flea treatment for cats may do more harm than good.
You need to see to it that you are effectively eliminating these bugs without compromising the health of your beloved pet.
Powerful insecticides and mighty IRGs may sound promising, but there’s always a catch to these things.
These chemicals may be useful for some pets but take note that animals are not created the same.
All cats are different, and that also means that they react to medicines in different ways.
To put it another way, your cat may be too sensitive and may develop allergic reactions to certain substances.
Hence, why you should always consult a vet before you decide on using a particular flea treatment for cats.
If you’re too hesitant to use these medications then don’t worry, don’t raise the white flag just yet.There are home remedies for fleas on cats that you can do at home.
If you feel uncertain about using chemicals and substances on your cat, then you can always turn to the natural way.
Flea combs are specially designed to catch and pull these bugs out from the fur. Choose a good-quality comb with firmly set teeth and gently run it through the cat's hair.
Make sure to reach the skin surface when running the comb through the fur. However, do this slowly and gently so as not to scratch the cat's skin.
Your kitty might probably enjoy this method because they love being brushed all the time.
Avoid combing downwards because the fleas may fall off the comb and jump back onto your cat. Run the comb from the ears to the head and move towards the tail.
Don’t forget to comb the underbelly and the top of the cat’s neck including the area around the rump.
Prepare a bowl of water beforehand. After each stroke, pull the bugs off the comb and place them into the water.
Fleas are so tiny that some people have trouble spotting them. To help you see them, place a white paper towel or a white piece of paper on the floor next to your pet.
Let each stroke land on the white paper to see the bug. Since they are dark-colored, you can easily see them against a white background no matter how tiny they are.
The use of a flea comb can reduce the population of bugs that are residing in your cat. However, it can't eliminate all of them.
There’s a high chance that fleas can still escape even after being caught by the comb.
Also, as long as even a single insect manages to venture back onto the cat, the infestation will still prosper.
Lemon juice, when mixed with water, is a great way to repel and kill these bugs. Thus, this makes it an effective flea treatment for cats.
Just a bit of reminder, do not use straight lemon juice because the strong acidic smell of lemon can overwhelm the sensitive nose of your pet.
Making your homemade lemon spray is easy and straightforward.
You will need:
Slice the lemons into disks and place the slices into a pot filled with 3 cups of water.
Mash the lemons with a fork to release some of their juices. The active ingredient in fruits that can kill fleas is found in rinds.
Therefore, breaking up the rinds with a fork helps release this active ingredient.
Put on the lid and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat when the water comes to a boil. Let the lemons simmer in the water for 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the lemon steep in the water overnight or at least 8 hours.
After soaking the lemons overnight, strain out the fruits and pour the water into a spray bottle.
Spray the lemon water onto your cat’s fur before running the comb through.
You can also soak the comb in a bowl of lemon water to kill every bug caught in between the comb’s teeth.
Use the lemon spray together with the comb at least twice a day. lemon spray can also be used as an effective cat lice treatment.
The lemon spray should not have an overwhelming citrusy smell. However, if your pet is still annoyed with its slight lemon scent, then you might consider ditching it all at once.
Instead of making a lemon spray, you can make apple cider vinegar spray instead.
Apple cider vinegar doesn't kill fleas as lemon does. However, these bugs typically find apple cider vinegar’s taste and smell both unpleasant.
Using it onto your cat creates an unpleasant environment that would force the fleas to move out.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar can effectively remove allergens and yeast on the skin that can cause rashes and itching.
However, you should not apply this on open wounds. In making your apple cider vinegar spray, follow these simple instructions.
For apple cider vinegar spray, add equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water to a spray bottle.
You can also choose to use straight apple cider vinegar (without water) and pour it in a spray bottle.
Spray it directly onto the cat’s coat and leave on. Do this every time they go outside to repel fleas at the outset.
For the apple cider vinegar bath, you can choose whether to use apple cider vinegar alone or use it together with a mild shampoo.
If you prefer using the apple cider vinegar alone, spray a generous amount of it onto the fur and leave it for 5 minutes before rinsing it off. Make sure to use a flea comb following the bath.
If you choose to use it along with the shampoo, use equal amounts of each to form a foam.
Work the shampoo mixture onto the head first because fleas are likely to run up to the head when the cat is placed in the water.
Gently rub the foam into the fur and leave it for 5 minutes before rinsing it off. Again, don’t forget to follow the bath with a flea comb.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that can be easily crumbled into a fine white powder.
This organic powder is derived from algae-like plants called diatoms. DE doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals. So, how can this powder get rid of the pesky bugs?
DE works by physically attacking the fleas on your cat. It uses little sharp edges in its particles that can slice and tear apart the flea's exoskeleton.
Without their exoskeleton, the DE lodges themselves on the fleas to suck the water out their bodies. As a result, the bugs will eventually die of dehydration.
Let’s get into a little more detail. DE is formed from the fossilized siliceous shells of algae.
The algae are already dead, but their shells remain. When crumbled into fine powder, they become razor sharp particles that are deadly to tiny insects but safe for humans and pets.
However, make sure that you get the “food grade” when purchasing DE in the market.
Food grade DE can be safely used topically and internally in cats and is also a safe flea treatment for kittens.
You won't have to worry about your cat licking and to ingest it because it is safe.
If there’s anything, ingesting DE helps destroy the worms residing in your pet’s stomach and intestines.
However, just like any other specks of dust, inhaling massive amounts of DE may be harmful to your respiratory system.
Do not go overboard when applying it to your cat and make sure to wear a mask.
Protect your hands from picking up some bugs by wearing gloves.
Take a small amount of DE or dust your hands with it. Sprinkle or pat the powder onto the cat's fur and gently rub to distribute it throughout the cat's body evenly.
Make sure that the DE reaches the cat’s skin.
Avoid getting close to the cat’s nose to prevent it from inhaling the dust.
Leave the DE on your cat for a couple of days before bathing them. Use a flea comb following the bath to remove any dead fleas sticking around the fur.
You can also sprinkle DE onto your cat’s bedding to drive the fleas away permanently. Do this even on the areas where your cat usually rests.
Leave the DE on the bedding for a couple of days before washing it. Also, vacuum the area to collect any dead fleas lying around.
A nematode called Steinerma carpocapsae is a small microscopic parasite that targets fleas.
These beneficial nematodes can effectively kill adult fleas as well as their larvae and pupa. They may be harmful to fleas, but they are safe for humans and pets.
After being applied to the soil, these organisms start hunting out for bugs. You can make their work a lot easier by allowing your infested cat near the areas where they are applied.
The nematodes enter the flea's body, and once they are inside, they release bacteria that can turn the flea as their food resource.
The bacteria that are injected into the flea’s bloodstream can kill them within 48-72 hours.
When the flea dies, their food resources become inadequate, and they immediately exit to find a new host.
This means that these nematodes continue to survive as long as there are fleas around. Also, the only thing that can stop them is when every single insect is eradicated.
Beneficial nematodes are also environmentally-safe, so you can liberally apply them to your yard without worrying about your crops and garden.
They typically live in warm and moist soils, so this must give you an idea of where to apply them.
For most applications, beneficial nematodes are mixed with water. You can use a pump sprayer or a Hose-end sprayer to spray the mixture directly into the soil.
Spread the nematode solution as evenly as possible. For best results, apply it when the soil temperature reaches above 42̊ F to provide them a warm environment where they can survive.
Fleas don’t choose which host to cling onto. Adult cats and kittens alike are potential targets for their infestation.
Flea treatment for kittens under 12 weeks is much more challenging because cats are at their most sensitive state during this age range.
Toxic chemicals found in insecticides, IRGs and synergists should be taken out of the discussion when kittens are involved.
Remember that kittens are fragile and small. So certain flea medications should not be used until they reach a certain age.
Since they are particularly delicate, the constant loss of blood can lead to anemia if the flea infestation isn’t treated right away.
However, how can we remove these tiny bloodsucking pests from our kittens without sacrificing their well-being?
Before you apply flea treatment for cats on your kitten, it’s important to check with your vet first. The vet is likely to prescribe safe medications recommended for your cat’s age.
You must NOT apply anything on newborn kittens. If you spot some fleas on your new pet, you need to remove them manually by using a pair of tweezers.
Kittens over four weeks old may be treated with nitenpyram as long as they meet the minimum requirement.
Again, you can only administer this to your kitten if the vet prescribes it. If not, do not attempt to do so.
You should also avoid using natural, homeopathic or essential oil treatments because these may harm your kitten.
You can still use the abovementioned natural flea treatment for cats, but carry these out with more precaution.
For example, if you’re going to use DE, see to it that the kitten doesn’t inhale too much of it.
Let us remind you again that kittens have more fragile body systems compared to adult cats.
Manual removal of the fleas is probably the safest flea treatment for kittens under 12 weeks. Bathe the kitten with a mild shampoo and make sure all the fur is wet.
Use a mild dish washing detergent and gently massage the lather all over the kitten, avoiding the nose and eyes.
Fleas usually run up to the head when the kitten is immersed in the water. Remove any visible insects with your finger or with a pair of tweezers.
Rinse off the detergent by submerging the kitten up to the neck. After the bath, follow up with a flea comb and drop the bugs in a bowl of hot, soapy water.
Continue bathing and combing your kitten twice a week until the fleas disappear.It is also important to pay attention to your kitty’s bedding and blankets.
Because no matter how much you bathe your kitten, some fleas may be hiding in its litter just waiting to come in contact with your pet.
Wash the bedding and the blankets in hot water. So vacuum the areas that may serve as ideal hiding places for fleas.
Over the counter medications to treat flea infestations are available almost everywhere.
Regardless of the cat’s age, it is always advisable to consult a vet first before you buy any flea treatment for cats in the market.
There might be some underlying factors that would make a specific medication unsuitable for your cat.
However, if you choose to go natural, there's a lot of natural flea treatment for cats that you can quickly make and use.
Moreover, home remedies for fleas on cats are always the safer alternative if you want to avoid dangerous side effects and overexposure to toxic substances.
Additionally, note that one of the most effective ways to eliminate fleas for good is to make sure that your home is clean.
If vacuuming isn’t enough to drive these pesky pests away, you may also seek the service of a professional exterminator to do the job for you.
Nevertheless, there is plenty of flea treatment for cat options available.