Fleas are awful little monsters. Left untreated, they can cause tapeworm infestations, as well as transmit a number of blood parasites and yes, even the plague. Among feral cats, fleas can spread disease at a swift pace, so getting rid of the blood suckers can save many lives.
Buy flea powder at your local pet store and sprinkle it anywhere where the cats congregate. Add some around feeding areas and especially on the places where the cats sleep. Don't worry, the cats won't notice, and when they fall asleep on it, some of the powder will rub off on their fur. Are you feeding or caring for the kitties? If you can actually get close to them, powder the cats, rather than the ground. Flea powder is quick, effective and cheap, but of course it will work better if you can put it on the cats rather than hoping the fleas will fall on it.
Buy a flea spray. Sprays are trickier, because if you try to spray a feral cat, he'll run for his life. So unless you have some James Bond moves in you, a better option is to spray areas where the cats sleep and hide. Don't go too crazy with the spray, though -- it has a strong smell that some cats might want to avoid.
Capture the cats in humane traps, if you can. This is the perfect opportunity to spay females so they don't overpopulate the town and neuter males so they don't keep spraying the whole neighborhood to mark territory. While they're at the vet getting surgery, ask for spot-on flea control, a liquid that's applied on the back between the shoulders and absorbed through the skin. This can get very expensive very quickly, so you either need to have a very large bank account or start rounding up donations.
Add some brewer’s yeast to the food you feed to the cats. Fleas hate the smell and taste of it, so they will jump ship if they can smell it on the cats. Will it completely kill the fleas? No, but it will get them to jump off the cat and onto the ground, which you've hopefully covered with flea powder or spray.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.