Fleas are a dangerous pest for newborn kittens and can lead to many health problems for them. Unfortunately, flea medications, including Capstar, are unsafe to administer to newborns. Instead of using flea medications, some gentle grooming can safely remove those pests from your little ones.
Capstar is a type of flea medication that can be given to kittens as young as 4 weeks old. The medication comes in the form of a flavored tablet that is safe to give your little ones as long as they weigh at least 2 pounds, according to Novartis Animal Health, the manufacturer of Capstar. The main ingredient in Capstar is nitenpyram, a chemical that kills any adult fleas on your kitty within 30 minutes of ingestion. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Capstar for over-the-counter use daily with kittens older than 4 weeks of age, weighing at least 2 pounds. Using Capstar in newborn kittens can be potentially unsafe and even fatal for your little ones.
While unsafe for use in newborn kittens, Capstar is safe to give to pregnant and nursing mama kitties. To prevent your newborns from being exposed to fleas, dose their mom with Capstar during her pregnancy and while she nurses, following the manufacturer's directions of a maximum of one tablet per day. Because Capstar only kills adult fleas, other flea preventatives can be used to kill the eggs on her coat, some of which are safe to use in pregnant and nursing kitties. Capstar only kills the fleas on your kitty's coat, not in her environment. Wash her bedding frequently and vacuum your home thoroughly to rid your home of any fleas and their eggs in your home.
Babies and Fleas
Because you can't give newborn kittens Capster or other flea medications, you'll need to bathe them with gentle dish soap. Don't use a flea shampoo or antibacterial soap -- these aren't safe for young kittens, either. Use warm water to soap up the little ones' bodies, avoiding their faces, and gently rinse them in your kitchen sink. After bathing, place them on a towel-wrapped heating pad to prevent them from becoming chilled and pat them dry. Groom them with a flea comb to remove any remaining fleas from their coat, dipping the comb into a cup of soapy water to kill the fleas.
See the Vet
Flea infestations in newborn kittens can cause life-threatening anemia because of their small size. If you spot fleas on your little ones, bring the litter into the vet for a checkup and some advice on controlling fleas for the newborns. He may even be able to bathe your little ones in the office if you aren't comfortable doing so. Your vet can discuss safe treatment options with you.
Never try to split a Capster tablet in half or quarters to give to the kittens, as no dose is safe for them to take -- grooming is really the only option. Note that there are two strengths of Capster, one for kitties weighing between 2 and 25 pounds and one for dogs weighing over 25 pounds. Always purchase the dose for cats if using this medicine on the mother of your litter of kittens or for the kittens later in life.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Drugs.com: Capstar
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: CAPSTAR (Nitenpyram) Tablets
- A Safe Haven for Cats: Caring for Newborns
- FixNation: Momma Mia! 7 Important Tips When Caring for Momma Cats and Kittens
- PetPlace: New Drug Eradicates Fleas In Hours
- PetPlace: Nitenpyram (CAPSTAR)
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Fleas
- VetInfo: Prescription Flea Control for Cats
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.