What Is a Natural Flea Treatment for My Cat? - Cat Info Detective

What Is a Natural Flea Treatment for My Cat?

Skye Blake looking left through magnifying glass

Attention all feline friends and friends of felines! This is Skye Blake, your intrepid detective, with important information I’ve discovered to help you find a natural flea treatment for your best kitty…

paw prints coming in from a distance

Anything That Says “Natural” Must Be Safe Right?

Oil & Flowers-Natural flea treatment

NOT NECESSARILY! Here’s why…

According to Dictionary.com, “natural” means “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind”.

In the realm of flea treatments, “natural” can be…

  • home remedies made from things you have around the house (lemons, vinegar…)
  • commercial “natural” flea sprays, collars, shampoos, etc. (oils as active ingredients)
  • essential oils (extremely concentrated, powerful, pure oils derived from plants)
  • organic (anything not man-made and not treated with chemicals)
tuxedo cat with mustache

All these treatments vary in purity, dosage, and ways of applying them to your kitty. This makes a HUGE difference in how effective they are against fleas while still being safe.

It’s easy to overdose your feline buddy and end up with a very sick cat and big vet bills!

Dosage

Stretching white cat

Correct dosage or dilution amount is very important with any flea treatment, whether “chemical” or “natural” ingredients are used as a base.

For example, you can cut up lemons and make a spray but the right amount of water must be added to be effective yet still safe.

Test tubes

Another example is a commercially prepared product, Natural Care™ Dog & Cat Flea & Tick Spray. It contains 0.20% peppermint oil (less than 1/4 of one percent) and 0.46% (less than 1/2 of one percent) clove oil (eugenol).

By comparison, peppermint and clove essential oils are 100% concentrated, not diluted at all.

That’s an enormous difference in dosage, which can seriously affect your cat! Proper dilution is critical and must be strong enough to kill or repel fleas, yet be harmless to your little buddy.

Purity

essential oil samples for natural flea treatments on cats

The purity of any flea treatment also affects how you handle them in dealing with fleas on your kitty.

This is true for both “chemical” and “natural treatments. The more impurities there are, the higher the chance of an unwelcome reaction in your kitty.

Application Method

White Garlic Bulbs-example of natural flea treatment

How you use a “natural” product and how you apply it to your cat is very important as well. Garlic is a good example…

It’s a natural, organic plant that can be eaten raw or cooked.

In it’s raw form, garlic smells and tastes very strong. When cooked it becomes milder in strength and flavor.

Garlic is a tasty and healthy vegetable for people and dogs… but NOT CATS! Cats don’t tolerate it well and should not eat it in any form.

Cat "reading" a book

When used as a medicine, garlic must be treated with care. Garlic oil is powerful and most concentrated in the bulb. As a poultice on the skin, it can help heal certain conditions…

BUT if too much is used or it’s left on too long, garlic can cause burns and blisters. Because of that, you have to know how much to dilute, how pure it is, and how to apply it.

cat near window

Therefore, just as with chemical products, you have to know what you’re doing in order to safely use natural flea treatments and oils.

Most people want something that’s safe but easy to use and prefer to buy it ready-made. If you like doing the extra work of making it yourself check “Flea Control the Homemade Way” for more info.

Can I Use Essential Oils as a Flea Treatment?

essential oils

Essential oils have become somewhat of a hot topic with cat lovers.

Are they safe to use in diffusers, as a spray or shampoos directly on a cat, or put in their food? Are some oils more toxic than others?

There’s a lot of confusing information out there about these oils, so I’ve created a whole ‘nother page to help make things clear… check it out!

I Prefer “Natural” Flea Products… What Are My Choices?

Orange & White Cat in Foliage- what is natural flea treatment for him

Just as with “chemical” products, you can use “natural” collars, shampoos, or sprays on your kitty. There are also “natural” powders, sprays, and carpet shampoos for your home.

Since the commercially prepared store-bought “natural” products are already very diluted and have been tested by their manufacturers, they save you the trouble of figuring out what will work for your healthy feline friend.

Always ask your veterinarian what products are good for your particular kitty and how to use them.

3 amigos

If you have a young kitten, sick or senior cat, you have to be extra careful choosing what to use for a flea treatment. It’s an important point that you can find out more about at “How to Kill Fleas on Kittens, Senior, and Sick Cats”.

As with “chemical” products, never use “natural” treatments made for dogs on your kitty!

Homemade Flea Treatments

Hand petting black & white cat

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, etc.)

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

tabby cat on table in snow

For this reason, if you decide to purr-sue this method, remember to follow any instructions carefully and proceed at your own risk.

As with other “natural” flea treatments, you must know your cat’s situation, as well as the products you want to use. See more of what I found at “Flea Control, the Homemade Way”.

Veterinarian Thoughts on “Natural” Flea Treatments

veterinarian with kitten

Veterinarians disagree on use of these different products, their effectiveness and safety.

It looks like a lot of this is dependent on knowledge of what you’re using and your ability to handle proper dosages… dilution is extremely important.

It must be effective against the fleas without harming the cat and that is a delicate balance.

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

One study says:

“Dogs and cats can experience significant adverse effects when exposed to plant-derived flea preventatives even when used according to label directions.

The number of reports of exposure in cats was higher than dogs, but the frequency of reported adverse effects was similar between the 2 species. Agitation and hypersalivation were common in cats, whereas lethargy and vomiting were common in dogs.”1Adverse Reactions From Essential Oil-Containing Natural Flea Products Exempted From Environmental Protection Agency Regulations in Dogs and Cats“, A.G. Genovese, M.K. McLean, S.A. Khan, J. Vet. Emerg. Crit. Care (San Antonio), Aug. 22, 2012 (4):470-5

This study does not mention the specific flea preventatives used. Always follow directions carefully.

Conclusion

lavender-good plant to repel fleas

In conclusion, if you prefer “natural” flea treatments, look at the options available and talk to your vet about your cat’s health and what will work best for you.

Above all, remember… safety in using anything, especially directly on cats, depends on

  • what you use (ingredients)
  • how much (quantity)
  • the size of the dose (dosage)
  • how often you use it (frequency)
  • how you administer it (swallowed or on skin)

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

A-L

“ACTIVITY AND BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF NEEM PRODUCTS
AGAINST ARTHROPODS OF MEDICAL AND VETERINARY IMPORTANCE”, by
MIR S. MULLA and TIANYUN SU, Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, Inc. 15(2):133-152, 1999, Copyright 1999 by the American Mosquito Control Association, Inc., Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314, pages 147-179, Science Direct

“Adverse Reactions From Essential Oil-Containing Natural Flea Products Exempted From Environmental Protection Agency Regulations in Dogs and Cats”, A.G. Genovese, M.K. McLean, S.A. Khan, J. Vet. Emerg. Crit. Care (San Antonio), National Library of Medicine, Aug. 22, 2012, (4):470-5

“Cats and Essential Oil Safety” by Robert Tisserand, Tisserand Institute

“Effects of azadirachtin on Ctenocephalides felis in the dog and the cat” by V.H.Guerrini, C.M.Kriticos, Veterinary Parasitology, Vol. 74, Issues 2-4, Pestsearch International, 173 Chatswood Road, Daisy Hill 4127, Australia, Received 11 October 1996, Accepted 7 February 1997, Available online 18 May 1998, Science Direct

“EPA Evaluation of Pet Spot-on Products: Analysis and Plans for Reducing Harmful Effects”

“How To Get Rid Of Fleas – 7 Natural Ways to Banish Fleas on Your Pets and in Your Home”, by admin, HowToGetRidOfGuide.com, February 13, 2015

“An improved bioassay facilitates the screening of repellents against cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)” by Li‐Chong Su, Chin‐Gi Huang, Shang‐Tzen Chang, Shu‐Hui Yang, Shan‐hui Hsu, Wen‐Jer Wu, Rong‐Nan Huang, 05 April 2013

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

“Larvicidal Effects of Boric Acid and Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate to Cat Fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)” by Nancy C. Hinkle, Philip G. Koehler, Richard S. Patterson, Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 32, Issue 4, 1 July 1995, Pages 424–427

M-Z

“Oral Toxicity of Boric Acid and Other Boron Compounds to Immature Cat Fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)” by John H. Klotz, James Moss, I., Rongcai Zhao, Lloyd R. Davis, Jr., Richard S. Patterson, Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 87, Issue 6, 1 December 1994, Pages 1534–1536

“The Science Behind Cats and Essential Oils”, by Dr. Melissa Shelton, London Alternative Veterinary Services, January 12, 2018

“Sublethal effects of D‐limonene on the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, by M. G. Collart, W. F. Hink, First published: December 1986