If your kitten is cute as a bug's ear, as grandma used to say, make sure he doesn't have real bugs on his body. Kitten flea treatments are age-dependant -- what you can use on a 12-week-old kitten might not be safe for a 6-week-old.
Topical Flea Treatment
You can use the same type of topical flea treatments on kittens as you would adult cats, but the kitten's age is crucial. Many of these products, available from your veterinarian by prescription or over-the-counter, specifically list the age at which kittens may be treated. While your vet should sell you age-appropriate products, read the label on any over-the-counter topical medication. Safe ages for treatment range from 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the pesticide. If you're not sure how old your kitten is, don't take the risk unless your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead.
If your kitten has fleas, you can try a flea dip or shampoo, but these treatments are not recommended for kittens under the age of 12 weeks. Ask your vet if you can bathe or dip your kitten in a particular flea-control product. In some cases, diluting the shampoo or dip may be safe for your kitten, but always get veterinary advice before doing this. There are less toxic ways to bathe a kitten and get rid of fleas.
Safe Flea Bath
Old-fashioned, safe flea treatments for kittens still work. Buy human baby shampoo, a flea comb and Borax powder. Bathe the kitten in warm water with the shampoo, lathering up to create suds. Leave the suds on the kitten for a minimum of five minutes before rinsing with warm water. Any fleas on the kitten should crawl to his head, where you can pick them off, either with your nails or blunt tweezers. Dry him well in a warm towel. Once he's dry, comb him thoroughly with the flea comb. Put him in a warm, enclosed area.
While he's drying off, sprinkle the flea-killing Borax powder on your carpets and any areas the kitten spends time in. Vacuum it up after half an hour. Repeat the entire bathing and Borax process twice a week for two weeks. This should get rid of your flea problem.
Fleas can cause serious illnesses in kittens. Because kittens are so young and small, with immature immune systems, flea infestations can lead to anemia. This condition kills kittens. If you see a flea or two on your kitten or evidence of flea dirt -- those small black bits often found around the head -- try treating the kitten yourself. If your kitten is infested, take him to the vet.
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.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.