Control That Flea Problem! Treating Cat Fleas Effectively
Fleas are the most common parasite to attack pets.
They feed on blood and can jump up to two feet high! Their bites are extremely itchy.
Fleas can live from 13 days to 12 months and produces millions of offspring in that time.
Not only can fleas plague your animals, they can also take over your home, causing itchy, irritating flea bites for your family and pets! Fleas are hard to get rid of. All it takes is one flea to begin a cycle of infestation. It is easy for people and animals to bring fleas inside. A female flea can lay 50 eggs a day!
If a flea infestation goes untreated on your cat, it can lead to anemia, skin problems and parasite infestations.
How Do I Know If My Cat Has Fleas?
If your cat has been scratching often and repeatedly, it’s time to check. Take a fine-tooth comb and run it through your cat’s fur. Main areas to search include around the neck and the base of the tail. If you see small, brown shapes moving quickly, your cat has fleas. Also check in between the teeth of the comb for black spots, or what is called “flea dirt.” Tiny white grains may be flea eggs.
Other Symptoms Of Fleas:
- Itchy skin
- Repeated scratching
- Chewing and licking
- Hair loss
- Tapeworms (small, white objects in your pet’s feces or hair by anus)
- Pale lips and gums
Fleas Can Lead To Additional Problems
In addition to itchy bites, fleas can cause secondary problems to your cat, so treating fleas immediately and preventing a flea infestation is extremely important. Secondary problems include:
- Flea allergy dermatitis – If you cat is allergic to the saliva of a flea, your cat can develop swelling and welts on its skin.
- Hot Spots – The incessant scratching and chewing of the skin to lead to hot spots, which will need to be treated to prevent infection.
- Tapeworm – If your cat swallows a flea, he may develop tapeworm, a parasite that lives in your cat’s intestinal tract and takes away vital nutrients.
- Anemia – Fleas suck blood, which can cause your cat to become anemic. Symptoms include pale gums, lethargy and low body temp.
- Bartonella Infection – This is commonly called Cat Scratch Fever and can spread to humans. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, seizure and swollen lymph nodes.
How To Treat Fleas In Cats
Trying to decide how to treat and prevent fleas for your cat? There are several products and methods available. Please note that cats are very sensitive to chemicals and using more than one product may expose him to too many toxins leading to sickness or even death.
Another note: Never use a dog flea product on a cat. Some of these products contain permethrin or related compounds that can kill cats. Care should be taken to ensure cats never come in contact with these products.
You also need to check if the product is safe to use on kittens or pregnant/nursing mother cats before using.
It is always best to discuss flea treatment with your vet to determine the best and safest way to treat fleas. Here is an outline of some of the products and treatments available.
Spot-on products are safe, more convenient and very effective at treating fleas. They usually work better than traditional flea collars, dust, shampoos and sprays. You can purchase from your vet or online (we prefer the lower prices and convenience of buying from Amazon).
These medicines are liquid that you squeeze near your cat’s shoulders. Typically, you give the medicine once a month. Make sure you always read the labels and instructions before beginning treatment.
A common spot-on treatment, Revolution, requires a prescription, so you will have to either buy from your vet or have your prescription verified to purchase online. Here are a few common brands you can buy online.
This product is fast-working and also lasts for a month. It kills fleas, eggs and larvae. Killing fleas fast is important to prevent them from laying eggs. Advantage stops fleas from biting within five minutes and rids over 99 percent of larvae within 20 minutes.
Advantage will rid your cat of 98 percent of all fleas within 12 hours and all the chewing lice within a week.
Each application last for 30 days and is waterproof. The active ingredient is Imidacloprid. Basically, this stuff is the cat’s meow when it comes to getting rid of fleas. We highly recommend it, and it’s the best selling flea drop treatment on Amazon (with a great rating to boot).
The active ingredient is Fipronil in this product. Each dose provides lasting protection for 30 days. It is fast-acting and will provide both flea and tick control for your cat, killing flea eggs are well as adults. This product is also waterproof.
Frontline Plus kills 100 percent of fleas and ticks within 24-48 hours, and is also stain and odor-free.
All applicators come in easy-to-use and child-proof applicator tubes.
Some people do not like the spot-on treatments for their cat because they are strong and can cause irritation. There are a few products that you can give to your cat orally.
Once a month, you add the flea treatment to your cat’s food. The product is absorbed in your cat’s bloodstream. It doesn’t kill adult fleas, but keeps them from reproducing. When a flea bites your cat, it ingests the active ingredient, Iufenuron, which is passed to her eggs and prevents them from hatching. Two common products include Program andCapstar.
Less effective treatments
There are many different types of flea collars on the market. In general flea collars are not very effective and may lead to skin irritation. There are some newer flea collars that are only available from vets that may be far more successful and harmless.
Stick with asking your vet if you think this is an option – we won’t recommend any, as the above options are much better.
Flea Powders, Shampoos And Dips
Flea shampoos can be effective to kill fleas, but many cats are difficult to bathe. These products only kill the fleas on your cat the current time and do not help prevent re-infestation. These products also need to be repeated often.
There are pump action spray and aerosol sprays available. Aerosol sprays are hard to use as many cats find the “hissing” noise scary. They also use older less effective and or less safe components.
Pump action sprays may be more suitable to lessen distress on cat. The correct dose for most sprays is one to two pumps from a typical trigger sprayer per pound of body weight. Some cats are sensitive to sprays and should receive an even lower dose. Another tip – spray the product into a grooming brush, and evenly brush through the hair coat. Keep the product away from your cat’s mouth.
Natural Flea Prevention
Watch out for some products on the market that claim to be natural. Some compounds can be potentially toxic to cats and none of these are nearly as effective a licensed product your vet recommends. These products have not gone through demanding safety evaluations.
One method you could try is to take advantage of a flea’s intelligence – or lack thereof. Fleas are attracted to light and find it irresistible. Take a shallow dish with sudsy water from something like dish soap and place it under a night light. Fleas will hop towards the light and jump in the water and drown. Fleas prefer warmer temperatures so use warmer water. Of course, this method may be hard to do and keep your cat still for a long period of time.
It always important to vacuum regularly and wash bedding regularly.
Getting Fleas Out Of Your Home
Fleas can hide in your carpet and furniture, so you need to get rid of the fleas in your home!
- Sweep tile or wood floors. Vacuum carpets, rugs and furniture. If your vacuum has bags, use a new bag each time you vacuum.
- Wash all bedding with hot water and wash or get rid of toys your cat may have played with.
- Use a carpet spray and apply to carpets and all upholstery. Remember fleas love dark places so be sure to spray under furniture and any other cranny.
- Fog your house – Some foggers are effective up to 7 months, long enough to kill all the life stages of a flea in most cases. You may need to use 2-3 foggers depending on the size of your home. Keep in mind some foggers may not kill flea eggs. You may have to re-fog two weeks later when they hatch.
- Make sure you treat all animals in your home, not just the one who has the infestation.
- Spray your yard to prevent fleas from coming in your home.
- Consult a professional exterminator for more serious infestations.
It is always best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best and most effective flea prevention. It is always best to prevent than to treat, so be sure to start treating your cat as soon as warm weather hits or year round if you live in a warmer climate. Fleas can cause a great deal of problems and may be difficult to get rid of if you get an infestation.