Fleas and ticks are more than just itchy annoyances to cats. Both pests can cause feline health problems including diseases, allergic reactions, dermatitis, hair loss and blood disorders. Successful flea and tick control requires that you treat your affected kitty and your home at the same time.
Commercial Control Products
You can purchase various types of flea and tick products from veterinarians, online pet stores, pet supply shops and supermarkets. Traditional flea collars, dips, sprays and powders contain effective pest-killing ingredients, but many cat owners prefer the convenience of using less messy, newer control products. For example, "spot on" treatments allow easy application of the product between your cat's shoulder blades. Once it's absorbed into the skin, the treatment spreads throughout your kitty's entire body and kills the fleas. Your vet could prescribe fast-acting, long-lasting tablets to help your cat remain flea- and tick-free.
Natural Flea and Tick Treatments
Natural flea killers include pyrethrin, a substance extracted from chrysanthemums; a citrus oil extract called limonene; and herbs such as citronella, wormwood and rosemary. Natural treatments break down pretty quickly, the guys at Texas A&M caution. This means you'll have to apply natural control products more often than you'd need to apply commercial treatments. Follow product and veterinarian dosage recommendations.
Daily combing is a simple means of keeping your cat from being bugged by ticks and fleas. Use a metal fine-tooth flea comb to remove adult fleas and eggs from her fur, keeping an eye out for ticks as you groom. Concentrate on combing the fur around her neck and just in front of her tail, since this is where fleas tend to congregate on cats. Kill the fleas as you remove them by dipping the comb into a cup of water with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil added to it. If you spot any ticks on your poor kitty, use a tick scoop or a pair of tweezers to carefully remove all parts of the pest. Drop the tick into a cup containing rubbing alcohol; flush the pest as soon as you finish grooming. Wash your hands and swab the bite with antiseptic.
Your Cat's Environment
Fleas and ticks can fall off your cat and into all areas of your home. Vacuum your house daily to remove loose ticks as well as adult fleas, larvae and eggs. Pay special attention to the spots where your pet sleeps and hangs out. Discard the debris you suck up into a tightly sealed outdoor trash can. The Partnership for Animal Welfare website suggests sprinkling diatomaceous earth into corners, around baseboards, in crevices and beneath furniture. Although the practice might seem messy, it actually kills fleas and ticks naturally. Let the product sit for about 24 hours, then vacuum it up.
Use both commercial and natural flea and tick control products with care. Always read the label directions before using any type of flea or tick control on your cat. Using even a small bit of some canine treatments can be fatal to cats. Follow the instructions carefully. If your cat shows any signs of depression, weakness or lack of coordination after a treatment, take her to your vet immediately.