Ways to Get Rid of Fleas on Healthy Cats! - Cat Info Detective

Ways to Get Rid of Fleas on Healthy Cats!

Skye Blake looking left through magnifying glass

Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, here… I’ve uncovered some useful ways to get rid of nasty fleas on your otherwise happy, healthy cat…

paw prints coming in from a distance

What Do I Do First To Get Rid of Fleas?

You must attack these little monsters in all stages of their life cycle (egg, pupae, larvae, adult), so…

Groom Your Kitty Daily

burmese

This works well, especially if you have indoor kitties (OK, it works well with dogs, too).

Hey, think about it… doesn’t cost much and you have to clean your house regularly anyway.

We felines love being groomed and massaged, too, so you know we’ll love you for it!

Groom kitty daily with a flea comb.

flea comb

It’s the best tool in your arsenal for catching fleas early. Be sure it’s a flea comb since others aren’t made to handle them.

If you see tiny black specks running through her fur, your furball’s got fleas.

They’re here one second, gone the next, always running fast and jumping far!

If you see black specks that don’t move, comb some onto a paper towel, add a few drops of water to them and see what color they are.

Flea dirt on an animal under magnifying glass
Flea dirt on fur

Specks that stay black are just dirt, but ones that turn red are flea dirt (dried blood).

Check “What Is a Flea? What Does It Look Like? to find out more about fleas.

Kill the Fleas You Find

drawing of a flea

Trap any fleas you find on the comb with your fingers.

Then dunk them with your fingers in a shallow bowl of hot, soapy water to kill them (1:3 ratio soap-to-water).

Watch out though, they love to jump!

Don’t dunk the comb in the water or you’ll have to completely dry it before using it again.

bowl of water, scrub brush

You can also pop fleas between your fingernails (eww…gross)!

Be sure you comb your kitty’s head, neck, armpits and back end, which are favorite flea hideouts.

But if your kitty is covered in fleas, you’ll get overwhelmed trying to get them all this way.

You’re better off giving kitty a bath (if she’ll let you) or go to a vet or groomer.

Remember to give special attention to kitty’s head, neck, armpits and back end.

LongHaired Cats

Maine Coon longhaired black cat sitting on a chair

My longhaired feline cousins need extra TLC.

Brush their gorgeous coats daily, using a flea comb as part of the grooming ritual, to check the areas close to the skin.  

Here are a couple of YouTube videos by groomers that tell you how to properly brush a longhaired cat:

“Grooming a Long Haired Cat”, by Everything Homemade, April 19, 2017

“Long-Haired Cats Grooming Guidelines”, Purebred Cat Rescue

Clean Your House

unhappy cleaner

Vacuum the floors your house daily to get rid of fleas… every few days once they’re gone.

If your vacuum has bags, throw them out right away each time if you have fleas.

Fleas love rugs to hide in and lay their eggs, so vacuum thoroughly.

color graphic of vacuum

If your vacuum is bagless, spray some vinegar in the tank.

Some people sprinkle salt or DE (diatomaceous earth) on carpets before vacuuming.

People sure do a lot of work for their special kitties! Click “Flea Control the Homemade Way” for more details…

Don’t Depend on Your Robot Vacuum to Get Rid of Fleas

blue canister vacuum

That’s the lazy way and isn’t effective enough against fleas.

Robot vacuums can’t get into cracks and crevices where fleas hide.

Be aggressive! We’re worth it!

house cleaning methods

Another great idea for you to consider is getting rid of wall-to-wall carpets, especially shag (a favorite home of fleas).

Area rugs are nice on hardwood or tile floors and can be washed or replaced much more easily than wall-to-wall carpeting.

Be sure to vacuum those baseboards.

This is the best way to get rid of any flea eggs or larvae to keep the cycle from repeating.

Those nasty fleas love to hide here!

vacuum cleaner head

Use the attachments that let you get into corners, cracks and crevices.

Spray flea killer or sprinkle diatomaceous earth (DE) around the edges of the rooms, and in your kitty’s favorite spots, or…

Spray floors and bedding with an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR).  Examples are Methoprene, PBO, and Nylar (Pyriproxfen).

white cat scratching an itch

They’re a type of chemical insecticide that stops growth and development of fleas.

Find out more about them at “What Chemical Ingredients Are in Flea Treatments?”

Apply an IGR twice, about 3 weeks apart, to take care of the complete flea life cycle. 

They’re available at hardware stores, etc.

Clean All Furniture

living room furniture

Vacuum and steam clean all furniture and covers.

All stages of fleas can hide in crevices of chairs, sofas, table legs, etc.

Move furniture around to get underneath it. Turn it over to clean the bottom (sofa or chairs). 

If your sneaky kitty hides in the lining under the sofa, tear off the lining and throw it away before cleaning the underside.

cat with rubber ducky on head

Enlist family members and friends if it becomes overwhelming for you. 

DONT SKIP the vacuuming and cleaning steps or you’ll never get rid of the fleas!

Or hire a professional cleaning service to come in every other day for a couple weeks (if you can afford it).

You can have them do the first major cleaning and then do the rest yourself if you prefer.

Clean Your Kitty’s Favorite Places

black cat in dryer
Wash everything (but not your cat)!

Wash/clean all areas where your cat loves to be.

This includes all bedding (yours too!), throw pillows, furniture covers, window seats, curtains, cat trees, and plush toys.

Wash everything in hot soapy water and repeat as necessary until the fleas are completely gone.  

It’s a lot of work but we’re worth it aren’t we? Think of how adorable we kitties are!

ginger kitten in a person's hand

Dry everything on the highest heat setting of your dryer to help get rid of any eggs or larvae that might have been left after washing.

Throw unwashable things out and replace them later after the fleas are gone.

Whatever you’re throwing away, seal in plastic bags to keep the fleas contained and get it in an outside trash can immediately. You’ll be glad you did.

A Few More Ideas

black car interior

Don’t forget your cars.

If any of your precious pets ride in the car with you, carefully vacuum all carpeted surfaces and wash the seats. 

Use the attachments to get between the cushions.

You can use the same products on the car rugs that you use in the house.

cat lounging in a car

If you don’t clean all cars, you’ll probably end up bringing more fleas in the house and you’ll have to start all over again!

Use a dehumidifier in your house to bring the humidity down. Some people say this helps kill fleas by dehydration. 

When the humidity level is at 50%, fleas start to die, so anywhere below 50% will help.

cat eagerly looking up to play

A dehumidifier can bring the humidity level down in a room, however, they aren’t made to dehumidify a whole house.

They’re often used in damp basements to prevent mold.

Some claim that desert areas don’t have flea problems because of their low humidity. 

I found no scientific evidence to support drying the air in a room, but it might be worth a try.

Getting Rid of Fleas in Your Yard

yard

In my research on this topic, I found that most of the time it’s not necessary to treat your yard for fleas.

They can still hitch a ride into the house but unless you have a serious infestation in your lawn, spraying it isn’t necessary.

You have to weigh the pros and cons.

landscaped garden with bridge

Do you have dogs that live in the backyard or indoor/outdoor cats?

Are you finding it impossible to control the flea problem with just treating them and the house?

If so, it might be worth your while to look into various products.

There are also plants that contain natural flea repellents you could plant around the yard, such as pennyroyal, mint, and lavender.

Keep Fleas From Infesting Your Cat

tabby cat eating from a bowl

The best way to get rid of fleas is to keep them off your cat in the first place.

Build and maintain a strong, healthy immune system with high quality food that gives him the nutrients he needs.

This will help prevent illnesses that would weaken him and make him attractive to pests like fleas.

cat food in bowl

An important part of keeping his immune system strong is maintaining a healthy weight for your buddy.

Making food available only a couple times a day will go a long way to accomplishing this goal, along with not allowing any treats.

What to feed your cat is a whole ‘nother topic I’m investigating so stay tuned…

The best way to get rid of fleas is to keep them off your cat in the first place… build up and maintain a strong, healthy immune system.

Choose Flea Products Made For Cats Only!  

Drawing of a spray bottle

Here’s where you use the answers you gave to those important questions earlier (go to “Getting Rid of Fleas For Cats Only” if you haven’t done this yet).

Keep in mind that your approach depends on how much work you want to do and HOW CAREFUL YOU ARE 

Product dosage, concentration, and how often you apply it make a huge difference in helping or hurting your fabulous feline friend.

This is true for any “natural” or “chemical” product, whether commercially produced or homemade.

Review the options below to find what’s easiest to use, safest and most effective for your purpose.

I’ve listed a few examples for your convenience, although it’s not a complete list.

I’m not endorsing any particular product, just listing them to give you an idea of what’s available.

Orange Tabby Cat Scratching Herself

Most of these options are available in traditional (“chemical”), “natural” and “homemade” forms.

There are important differences…click each type for more details.

Costs range from cheap ($) to expensive ($$$$): cheap = $ 0-10; average = $$ 10-20; high = $$$ 20-30; expensive = $$$$ 30+

Collars

stretching cat

Your kitty wears a flea collar her neck that has an insecticide (either “chemical” or “natural”) in it to kill and/or repel fleas.

Some cats have reactions where they lose fur where the collar sits on the neck and/or develop redness and sores on the skin under the collar.

“Chemical” Collars

  • Seresto® 8-month Flea & Tick Collar – claims to have an innovative delivery system, killing fleas before they bite $$$$
  • Hartz® Ultra Plus® – 7-month Flea & Tick Collar – claims to work quickly and continue for 7 months $
  • Adams™ Plus Flea & Tick Collar for Cats – claims to work immediately and continue for 7 months $
cat wearing collar looking up

“Natural” Collars

  • Only Natural Pet® EasyDefense™ Flea, Tick & Mosquito Dog & Cat Collar Tag – “Causes no harm to your pet—once the tag is hooked onto your pet’s collar, encrypted frequencies will synchronize with your pet’s unique biological frequency, deterring fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other biting insects without bothering your pet.” $$$
  • Dr. Mercola® Herbal Flea, Tick & Mosquito Repellent Collar – repels fleas up to 4 months on cats older than 4 months $$
  • Tropiclean® Natural Flea & Tick Collar – claims to repel (not kill) fleas and ticks for up to 4 months; for cats over 4 months old; has a break-away feature $
  • Sentry® PurrScriptions Dual Action Flea & Tick Collar – claims to be fast acting; kills adult fleas and has a growth inhibitor to destroy eggs; for use in healthy cats over 6 months old (not for pregnant cats) $

Sprays

flea spray bottle

Flea sprays have insecticides and are used to help get rid of fleas and prevent their return.

They’re used now more in the home rather than directly on your cat.

This is because most kill only adult fleas, get your cat all wet, and can easily get in their eyes and mouth.

Other products are available that many people feel are easier to deal with and safer for their cats.

“Chemical” Sprays

  • Hartz® UltraGuard® Spray – claims to begin killing fleas in 10 minutes and useable on kittens over 12 weeks old $
  • Adams™ Plus Flea & Tick Spray – claims to kill ticks, adult fleas, eggs and larvae and break the cycle for up to 2 months $$
  • Advantage® Flea & Tick Spray – claims to kill adult fleas, hatching fleas and eggs, ticks, and lice on cats over 7 months old; also used in the house $
  • Sentry® PurrScriptions® Plus Spray – claims to kill fleas, eggs and ticks; protects for up to 30 days on cats and kittens over 12 weeks $$
Wet cat after flea bath

“Natural” Sprays

  • Vet’s Best® Cat Flea & Tick Gentle-Mist Spray – claims to kill fleas and ticks on contact; also works on flea eggs; use on cats 12+ weeks old; can also be used on bedding, furniture, blankets, etc. $$
  • Natural Care® Flea & Tick Spray – claims to kill fleas, eggs, and ticks on contact; for use on cats 12 weeks and older, and on many household surfaces $
  • Only Natural EasyDefense™ Flea & Tick Spray – claims it can be used daily on the cat and bedding, collars, etc., to help repel fleas $$

Shampoo

Wet Peeved Tabby Cat

Flea shampoos have insecticides added in dosages that will kill fleas while cleaning your kitty safely…that is, if you can give your cat a bath!

“Chemical” Shampoos

  • Advantage® Treatment Shampoo – unscented; claims to kill fleas and ticks on contact; use only on cats and kittens over 12 weeks old and not more than once a week $
  • Sentry® PurrScriptions® Plus Shampoo – claims to kill fleas, eggs and ticks; protects for up to 30 days on cats and kittens over 12 weeks $$

“Natural” Shampoos

  • Only Natural Pet® EasyDefense™ Pet Shampoo – claims it can be used on pets older than 4 months year-round $$
  • Vet’s Best® Waterless Bath Foam – claims it’s good for cats 12+ weeks old, who don’t like baths or sprays; gentle formula; claims it kills fleas, eggs and ticks $$

Powder

powder

There are some flea powders available but are mostly used on dogs and in the house (carpets and floors).

Powders are not recommended to use on cats since they’re messy (think clouds of baby powder), only effective while on the cat, rub off quickly and are swallowed during grooming.

It’s claimed that powders in large amounts can cause breathing problems in cats.

Topical Flea Treatments

veterinarian examining cat

A topical flea treatment is a pre-measured dose of insecticide applied to the skin on the back of a cat’s neck, where they can’t lick it.

Dose is determined by weight of the cat.

It is claimed they don’t hurt a cat if put on the skin, but can be harmful if swallowed.

They kill fleas either for one or three months. Some examples are given below…

person petting cat

  • Advantage® II Flea Treatment – claims: “Veterinarian-recommended treatment kills all life stages of fleas on kittens and cats 8 weeks or older”; begins working in 12 hours; use monthly on cats over 4 weeks old $$$
  • Frontline® Plus – claims to kill adult fleas, larvae and eggs for 30 days on cats over 8 weeks old $$$
  • Bravecto® Topical Solution – claims that one dose works for 3 months and kills fleas and prevents infestations in cats 6 months and older $$$
  • Revolution®Plus – claims it works against heartworm and fleas for one month (best to use only under the guidance of a veterinarian) $$$


Oral Flea Treatments

ginger cat sneezing

Oral flea treatments are medications given by mouth in liquid, pill or chewable tablet form.

They are useful for situations where you have concerns about young children or others in the household getting flea products on their skin or in their mouths.

Here are some options…

  • Comfortis® – chewable beef-flavored tablet; claims to kill fleas within 30 minutes; effective for one month. Use on cats over 14 weeks old $$$$
hand holding clear gel pill capsule
  • Capstar™ – claims to work within 30 minutes and is over 90% effective in killing adult fleas in hours. Use in cats and kittens weighing 2 to 25 pounds. Can give as often as once a day for infestations. $$$
  • Flea Away® Natural Flea, Tick & Mosquito Repellent for Dogs & Cats – liver tablets; claims it’s a …”safe mixtures of vitamins”…”works by actually covering up the smell of Co2, which is what attracts the fleas to bite.” Takes 30 days to start working; can be used in conjunction with other treatments. $$

Credelio™ Flea & Tick chewables for cats by Elanco™- these are tablets that contain lotilaner, a newer broad-spectrum insecticide. It’s claimed that cats accept it well, which makes it easy to use, and is very effective against both ticks and fleas.

Homemade Flea Treatments to Kill or Repel Fleas

calico cat licking paw

There are books and websites giving recipes and instructions on making various flea and tick repellents from things you have at home, (e.g., lemons, vinegar, lavender).

They claim these are effective to kill and/or repel insects, but I’ve found no scientific studies or data either confirming or refuting these claims.

So, if you want to purr-sue this method remember to follow the instructions carefully and proceed at your own risk.

See more of what I found about this at “Flea Control, the Homemade Way”.

two-yellow-sunflowers-with-clear-glass-bottle-with-cork-lid

“Product dosage, concentration, and how often you apply it make a huge difference in helping or hurting your fabulous feline friend.

This is true for any ‘natural’ or ‘chemical’ products, whether commercially produced or homemade.”

Whatever you decide to use, remember you can always change to something else as you try things.

Some cats do fine with an occasional bath but others freak out. How does your little buddy feel about it?

Black & White Cat Scratching Himself

If it’s a big “no”, you might prefer a topical or oral treatment. You can do it yourself monthly or have your vet do it.

In conclusion, there are plenty of options available so you’re sure to find one or more that work for you and your feline companion.

Your vet is your best resource for creating a plan that will best fit your kitty’s needs.


What Is a Flea? What Does It Look Like?How to Kill Fleas on Kittens, Senior & Sick Cats
Getting Rid of Fleas…For Cats Only!Is a Flea Treatment with Chemicals Safe for My Cat?
What Chemical Ingredients Are in Flea Products?What is a Natural Flea Treatment for My Cat?
Natural Flea Remedies You Can Buy Flea Control, the Homemade Way…
What Are Essential Oils…Do They Kill Fleas on Cats? What Is a Tick?
Cat Flea Collars

Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary. 

Primary are always preferable and have the most reliable information because primary sources are original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own, although, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

Thus, when I use secondary sources most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

Sources listed below may sell products. This list is for your convenience only. I make no money from it.

Chewy, Inc., products and pricing

Petco®: products and pricing

“Get Rid of Fleas Naturally”, wikiHow

“Influence of Temperature and Humidity on Survival and Development of the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides Felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)”, Jules Silverman, Michael K. Rust, Donald A. Reierson, Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 20 February 1981, Pages 78–83

“Die Fleas!…Freaky Cheap Flea Control”, by Paul Wheaton, Paul Wheaton Permaculture

“Flea Powder for Pets – How It Works and When to Use It”, by Jacob Olesen,

“How to Choose the Safest Flea Treatment for Your Cat”, by Jennifer Coates, DVM, petMD, LLC

“Lotilaner – a novel formulation for cats provides systemic tick and flea control”, by Ian Wright, published July 13, 2018, NCBI, PMC, U.S. National LIbrary of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

YouTube videos

“Grooming a Long Haired Cat”, by Everything Homemade, April 19, 2017

“How To Get Rid of Fleas From Your Cat”, Blue Cross

“How to Wash an Adult Cat for the First Time”, Animal Wised, June 21, 2018

“Long-Haired Cats Grooming Guidelines”, Purebred Cat Rescue