Fleas are not only a huge nuisance, they can also pass tapeworm to your cats. Eradicating fleas requires its due diligence and maybe more than a little patience, but it's not impossible if you cover all the bases. You will have to treat your cat, your house and your yard.
Treating Your Cat
The first step in getting rid of pesky fleas is to treat your cat directly. You can put treatment right on the skin behind your cat's neck or you can give your fur baby oral treatment, if he will let you. There are many products available and some may not get rid of fleas as well as others, so ask your veterinarian for advice on this. Flea collars are convenient, but they aren't the greatest in terms of effectiveness, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.
The next step is flea-combing, which is basically just brushing your cat’s fur with a small-toothed comb and physically pulling the fleas out. Keep a glass of soapy water next to you when you comb your cat and dip the flea comb into the water after each stroke. This will quickly kill any live fleas and keep them from jumping off the comb and scattering off to who knows where. Comb your cat every day during your entire flea-killing mission.
Treating Your House
When it comes to fleas, it is not enough to just treat your cat, you have to treat your whole house to get rid of fleas and any eggs. If you skip this step, the fleas could come right back; hence the term nuisance.
Vacuum rugs and couches, making sure to really get into your cat’s bedding and his favorite places to sleep. Fleas love dark places, so reach that vacuum underneath couches and behind furniture.Vacuum daily in high traffic areas and weekly in low traffic areas. Wash your cat’s bedding and any blankets that he likes to sleep on once a week.
Treating Your Yard
Even if your cat is an indoor-only cat, it’s wise, although not completely necessary, to treat your yard. If you do decide to treat your yard, clean up any loose debris, such as leaves and yard clippings. Saturate bushes and the area around the perimeter of your house with flea-control spray. Pay close attention to dark, moist areas.
Cats are extremely sensitive to insecticides and any flea-control treatment should be approached with a lot of care. Don't use flea treatment meant for dogs on cats, even in lower doses. Make sure that the flea products you choose are age and dose-appropriate for your cat’s weight to prevent kitty from getting sick, or worse. It is best to consult with your veterinarian if you are unsure about which product to choose.
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.
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Flea Control in Cats
- ASPCA: Fleas
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Fleas: A Source of Torment for Your Cat
- University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Fleas
- Milford Animal Hospital: Fleas of Cats and Dogs and How to Control Them
- Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences: Cat Fleas
Lindsay Boyers has a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Framingham State College and a certificate in holistic nutrition from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She is also a licensed aesthetician with advanced training in skincare and makeup. She plans to continue on with her education, complete a master's degree program in nutrition and, ultimately, become a registered dietitian.