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10 Best Flea Treatments for Cats in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Cat with fleas

You already know that your cat needs flea treatment, especially if you let them outside at any point. However, that doesn’t help answer the next question that you’re likely to have: Which one?

There are plenty of options out there, each with a different intimidating-sounding active ingredient. If you’re not well-versed in the research behind each one, you’ll basically be throwing darts, blindly hoping to get a bullseye.

In these reviews, we explain the differences between a few of the major options, including what they’re good at and what they struggle with. When we’re done, you should know exactly what your cat needs.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Rating Image Product Details
Best Flea and Tick Treatment for Cats
Winner
Revolution Plus Topical Solution for Cats Revolution Plus Topical Solution for Cats
  • Easy to apply
  • Works in as little as 4 hours
  • Kills various other parasites
  • Best Flea Medicine for Cats
    Second place
    Advantage II Flea Spot Treatment for Cats Advantage II Flea Spot Treatment for Cats
  • Fragrance-free
  • Waterproof formula
  • Eliminates fleas in all life cycles
  • Best Topical Flea Treatment for Cats
    Third place
    Frontline Gold Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats Frontline Gold Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats
  • Eliminates ticks
  • Small amount of formula in each applicator
  • Good for killing fleas that other treatments miss
  • Best Flea Treatment for Kittens
    Capstar Flea Oral Treatment for Cats Capstar Flea Oral Treatment for Cats
  • No oil to rub in
  • Can be given as often as once a day
  • Can be used on kittens as young as 4 weeks old
  • Best Flea Control for Cats
    Onguard Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats Onguard Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats
  • Good value for the price
  • Kills bugs in all life stages
  • Lasts for a month per application
  • The 10 Best Flea Treatments for Cats — Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Revolution Plus Topical Solution for Cats — Best Flea and Tick Treatment for Cats

    Revolution Plus Topical Solution for Cats

    If you want to be sure that you’ve killed every last little biter on your cat, you’ll need to call in the big guns, and they don’t come more powerful than Revolution Plus. It will start knocking off fleas in as little as 4 hours.

    A quick caveat: Revolution Plus is our top pick because it’s incredibly versatile. Its primary ingredient, Selamectin, kills fleas, ticks, ear mites, and various worms (including heartworms). It’s basically a one-stop shop for parasite management, which is why we believe that it’s the best overall flea treatment for cats.

    There’s one big thing that it doesn’t do, however: kill flea eggs and larvae. As a result, you may see a huge difference in the flea population the first few days after application, only to see a few more pop up a little while later.

    That’s normal, and nothing to worry about — those fleas will die off before they can lay eggs, and the life cycle will be snuffed out. Still, it can be disconcerting to see a flare-up after you’ve applied a treatment.

    Revolution Plus also requires a prescription, which is a bit of a hassle (but speaks to just how powerful the formula is). It’s easy to apply and only needs to be put on once a month, giving you hassle-free protection.

    Pros
    • Incredibly powerful
    • Kills various other parasites
    • Easy to apply
    • Only needs once-a-month application
    • Works in as little as 4 hours
    Cons
    • Doesn’t kill eggs or larvae

    2. Advantage II Flea Spot Treatment for Cats — Best Flea Medicine for Cats

    Advantage II Flea Spot Treatment for Cats

    Advantage II technically sits in the number-two spot on this list, but it’s likely even better at killing fleas than Revolution Plus, though it’s not as versatile. That said, you can swap the two around depending on what qualities you prefer.

    This flea treatment won’t kill everything under the sun like Revolution Plus will, but it’s like napalm to fleas. The active ingredient, Imidacloprid, kills fleas faster than any other chemical currently on the market, and it takes out eggs and larvae too.

    Now, please note that it kills fleas faster, not better. After a few days, most of the major flea insecticides have similar kill rates, as they’ll all eradicate over 99% of fleas. Imidacloprid, however, works much faster than the others, so you should see near-immediate results.

    Also, unlike many other formulas, it kills on contact; the fleas don’t have to bite your cat for it to work. It’s fragrance-free as well — your cat won’t smell after you put it on them.

    The formula is waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about the efficacy taking a dive if your cat wanders out into the rain (it only becomes waterproof once it soaks in, though, so don’t bathe them immediately after application).

    Pros
    • Works incredibly fast
    • Eliminates fleas in all life cycles
    • Waterproof formula
    • Fleas don’t have to bite your cat to die
    • Fragrance-free
    Cons
    • Doesn’t do much for other parasites

    3. Frontline Gold Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats — Best Topical Flea Treatment for Cats

    Frontline Gold Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats

    Frontline Gold’s ranking is somewhat paradoxical, as it’s just a tiny bit worse than the previous two treatments, yet it’s the first thing that you should try if either of those doesn’t work.

    It has an ingredient called Pyriproxyfen in addition to two other active ingredients, Fipronil and S-methoprene. The latter two make up the formula for regular Frontline, which has long been one of the top flea treatments on the market.

    The problem is that some fleas have begun developing a resistance to Fipronil and S-methoprene, so Pyriproxyfen was added. It’s good at killing fleas that other treatments miss, but on its own, it’s not quite as fast-acting as Imidacloprid or Selamectin.

    Instances of fleas developing resistance to insecticide are rare, but it’s good to have this in your back pocket, just in case.

    Frontline Gold kills fleas in all their life cycles, and it will also take care of ticks. The bad news is that the formula has a distinct (but not strong) odor and is oily, so you’ll see a slick spot on your cat for a few days. There’s not much in each applicator, though, so unlike some other treatments, you won’t have to rub a small lake of insecticide into your cat’s body.

    Pros
    • Good for killing fleas that other treatments miss
    • Kills bugs in all life cycles
    • Eliminates ticks
    • Small amount of formula in each applicator
    Cons
    • Has a distinct odor
    • Oily formulation

    4. Capstar Flea Oral Treatment for Cats — Best Flea Treatment for Kittens

    Capstar Flea Oral Treatment for Cats

    Fleas can be devastating — and even life-threatening — for kittens, but unfortunately, many treatments aren’t approved for use on young cats. Capstar is one of the few that is, and it can be given to kitties as young as 4 weeks old.

    It’s also effective on adult cats, but we’d use one of the topical treatments instead. The problem is that while Capstar works quickly, it also stops working after about 24 hours or so.

    It’s not suitable for prevention, but it’s great for quickly eliminating an infestation. The idea is to get all the fleas off your cat as quickly as possible (and it’s great at that), and then it’s up to you to make sure that no new bugs hop on.

    While it won’t last as long as a topical treatment, you can give it to your cat as often as necessary, up to once a day. It shouldn’t take long to kill every single critter hitching a ride on your pet.

    Unlike the previous products, this is an oral treatment, so you’ll have to convince your cat to eat a tablet rather than sit still while you smear oil on their neck. That could be good or bad, depending on how your cat feels about pills.

    Pros
    • Can be used on kittens as young as 4 weeks old
    • No oil to rub in
    • Works incredibly quickly
    • Can be given as often as once a day
    Cons
    • Only lasts 24 hours
    • Has to be given orally
    • Doesn’t prevent future infestations

    5. Onguard Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats — Best Flea Control for Cats

    Onguard Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats

    Onguard Plus uses Fipronil and S-methoprene, the same active ingredients that are in Frontline Gold, which fleas have been developing a resistance to over the years.

    Luckily, the stuff still kills the vast majority of fleas, but there’s always the possibility that the fleas you’re dealing with won’t be bothered by it at all. It’s an inexpensive treatment, though, so there’s little risk in giving it a shot. The low price and general effectiveness are why we believe that it’s the best flea treatment for cats for the money.

    It kills fleas in all life stages and lasts for a month per application, so you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck.

    The packaging is a bit cumbersome to deal with, and since you’ll have to rub it on a flea-covered cat, that can be a problem. The oil is also thick and takes time to absorb into the skin.

    Pros
    • Good value for the price
    • Lasts for a month per application
    • Kills bugs in all life stages
    Cons
    • Some fleas may have developed a resistance to it
    • Packaging is cumbersome
    • Thick oil takes time to fully absorb

    6. Cheristin Flea Spot Treatment for Cats — Best Flea Prevention for Cats

    Cheristin Flea Spot Treatment for Cats

    Cheristin is one of the newest flea treatments to hit the market, and it’s specifically formulated for cats. As a result, it lasts longer than most other options — up to 6 weeks — making it ideal for long-term prevention.

    This is also one of the pricier treatments out there, so you’ll pay for that effectiveness — at least up front. Given that it lasts longer than others, though, you may just find that it’s cheaper in the long run.

    It uses something called Spinetoram to kill fleas; Spinetoram only kills adult fleas, but it does so quickly. Since the effects last for so long, by the time that any eggs or larvae hatch, they’ll most likely die off before reproducing.

    While it’s effective on fleas, it only works on them, so don’t expect any protection against ticks, mosquitoes, mites, or other creepy-crawlies. It doesn’t absorb into the skin as fully as some other treatments, so you run the risk of having your cat ingest some if they lick themselves.

    Also, while Cheristin has been approved for use in cats, some people are always hesitant about using a new medication.

    Pros
    • Works for up to 6 weeks
    • Specifically formulated for use in cats
    • Great for wide-spread infestations
    Cons
    • On the expensive side
    • Doesn’t kill eggs or larvae
    • Only kills fleas
    • Doesn’t absorb into skin as well as some other topical treatments

    7. Comfortis Chewable Tablet for Dogs & Cats — Best Flea Pills for Cats

    Comfortis Chewable Tablet for Dogs & Cats

    Comfortis is more commonly used on dogs, but it has also shown effectiveness on fleas in cats. Just pay extra attention to the dosage amounts so you don’t accidentally give your cat too much.

    Comfortis uses an ingredient called Spinosad, and it causes seizures in fleas that bite your cat. Spinosad is derived from naturally occurring microbes in the soil, making it a good choice for anyone who’s leery about putting toxic chemicals on their best friend.

    It’s a chewable tablet, so you won’t have to deal with oil on your cat’s fur, but not all cats will be eager to swallow it down.

    These are big tablets too, so you’ll likely have to chop them up to get your cat to eat them. Fortunately, most cats don’t seem to mind the taste, so as long as you mix it with food, you should be fine. The pills are flavored, so you may even need to hide them from your cat to prevent an overdose.

    This is one of the priciest flea treatments out there, and the company recommends pairing it with another product for flea prevention, so it’s a little disappointing that you don’t get complete protection for that price.

    Still, if you want an oral medication that’s lethal to fleas, Comfortis is the way to go.

    Pros
    • No need to mess with oily liquid
    • Derived from naturally occurring microbes
    • Cats seem to enjoy taste
    Cons
    • Tablets are big
    • Extremely expensive
    • Needs to be paired with flea prevention product
    • Have to be careful with dosage sizes

    8. Catego Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats

    Catego Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats

    While it’s effective against both fleas and ticks, Catego’s biggest claim to fame may be its applicator. It’s extremely easy to use, enabling you to put the oil right where you want it without getting it all over yourself in the process.

    The formula uses a cocktail of active ingredients to kill fleas, including Fipronil, Dinotefuran, and Pryiproxyfen. This means it’s unlikely to stop working because if one ingredient doesn’t kill fleas, one of the other two will.

    Of course, some owners will balk at putting that many chemicals on their cat, even if it’s been approved by the relevant authorities.

    It only comes in one dosage size, which is intended to treat all cats above 1.5 pounds. This may pose a problem if you have a massive breed like a Maine Coon, as it likely won’t be as effective on them as it is on, say, a Cornish Rex.

    Catego also seems to have an attractive flavor, as cats seem to love licking it off one another. You don’t want them to do this, so if you have multiple cats, you’ll need to keep them separated until the oil dries.

    Pros
    • Easy to apply with convenient applicator
    • Three active ingredients ensure continued effectiveness
    Cons
    • Some owners may not want to put so many chemicals on their cat
    • Only one dosage size
    • Not as effective on large breeds
    • Cats seem to enjoy taste

    9. Bravecto Topical Solution for Cats

    Bravecto Topical Solution for Cats

    Bravecto is a topical solution that utilizes something called Fluralaner to kill fleas and ticks. Its biggest selling point is that it lasts an extremely long time: up to 3 months on a single application.

    While that’s certainly impressive, the effectiveness begins to tail off a bit toward the last few weeks. As a result, you may be dealing with another infestation by the time that you need to apply another dose. It’s also harder for many people to remember to do something every 3 months as opposed to every month.

    You’ll need a prescription in order to buy it, so it’s a bit of a hassle compared to some OTC products.  Each single dose is expensive, but if you remember to prorate it over 3 months, the price improves.

    There’s no denying that it works, though, especially in the first month. It will also take care of ticks for you, which is a nice bonus.

    If you have trouble remembering to put flea treatment on your cat — but you can set a reminder for 3 months in advance — then Bravecto may be your best bet.

    Pros
    • Lasts for up to 3 months
    • Also kills ticks
    Cons
    • Effectiveness wears off toward end of 3-month period
    • Pricey for a single dose
    • Hard to remember to reapply it
    • Requires a prescription

    10. Virbac EFFIPRO Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats

    Virbac EFFIPRO Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Cats

    Virbac EFFIPRO is kind of a knockoff version of Frontline Gold, except it only has two active ingredients (it lacks S-methoprene). Still, it has Pyriproxyfen to go along with Fipronil, so it may prove effective if other treatments have failed.

    The problem with this formulation is that Fipronil and S-methoprene are almost always used together because they complement each other so well. You’ll mostly be relying on the Pyriproxyfen here, so it’s not likely to be nearly as effective.

    Even though EFFIPRO is intended to be a less expensive alternative to the other product, it’s not that much cheaper, so there’s little reason to choose it unless the Frontline Gold hasn’t worked for you.

    The manufacturer seems to recognize this because there are many suggestions for pairing it with other solutions. While there’s nothing wrong with using a multifaceted approach to killing fleas, it’s much more convenient (and cost-effective) if you can find a single product that works on its own.

    Application is kind of a pain too. You have to unscrew the cap and then use it to puncture the seal on the tube. Obviously, this is impossible when holding a squirming cat, but if you puncture it before grabbing the cat, some formula will leak out. It’s a no-win situation.

    There’s nothing wrong with Virbac EFFIPRO, per se. On the contrary, you should see results from it. It’s just hard to justify recommending it when there are more effective options out there in the same relative price range.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive alternative to Frontline Gold
    Cons
    • Lacks one of the major flea-killing ingredients that Frontline Gold offers
    • Difficult to apply
    • Best when paired with other flea-killing products
    • Not much cheaper than the Frontline Gold

    Related Read: 10 Best Flea Collars for Cats – Reviews & Top Picks

    hepper cat paw divider

    Buyer’s Guide

    There’s actually a great deal that goes into choosing a flea treatment, so we don’t blame you if you feel overwhelmed. You don’t need to worry about comparing the individual active ingredients, as that’s a job for your vet (they are more likely to keep up to date on the scientific literature).

    Instead, you can figure out the best treatment for your cat by asking yourself a few simple questions.

    cat being treated from ticks and fleas
    Image Credit: Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava, Shutterstock

    What Decisions Do You Need to Make Before Buying a Flea Treatment for Your Cat?

    Think about the following things before deciding which treatment to use:
    • Method of application: Effective flea treatments usually come in oral or topical form. There’s not much difference in terms of effectiveness, so it’s up to you whether you think that it’s easier to rub oil on your cat’s neck or get them to eat a tablet.
    • Impact on life cycle: Some treatments only kill adult fleas, while others kill adult fleas and eggs and larvae. The latter will work faster because you may see a brief recurrence of fleas if you use a treatment that only targets adult bugs, as any existing eggs will hatch a few days or weeks after application. In the end, both types will kill all the fleas on your cat, though.
    • Effectiveness on other parasites: Some treatments only kill fleas, while others can take out ticks, mites, and other bugs as well. If you have an outdoor cat, you’ll likely want one that protects against a wide range of parasites, but if you only have a flea problem, you might be better off using a more targeted formula.

    What About Products Like Collars, Sprays, and Shampoos?

    To be blunt, most of those products don’t work. They may kill a few fleas and ruin the day for some others, but they simply aren’t as effective as oral or topical solutions.

    However, they may be helpful when paired with those more effective products. Shampoos can be especially useful if you bathe your cat before putting on a topical solution or giving them a tablet, but on their own, they won’t solve the problem for long.

    You may also see “natural” products that use essential oils or similar things; these promise to eliminate fleas without subjecting your cat to toxic pesticides. Unfortunately, while they may be natural, they’re also largely worthless.

    There are certain powders that you can apply to your carpets to kill any fleas that may have jumped off your cat while they were in the house. They’re worth using for that purpose, but don’t expect them to do anything for your cat.

    What Else Can You Do to Keep Fleas at Bay?

    The most effective way to deal with fleas is to prevent them from ever getting on your cat, and the best way to do that is to never let your cat go outdoors. Once your cat leaves the house, they’ll be exposed to all sorts of parasites, and you’ll be playing catch-up until you can find a way to kill whatever they bring home with them.

    If your cat already has fleas, you’ll need to kill any that are in the house while your flea treatment takes care of the bugs on your pet. The aforementioned powders are effective for this purpose, as is regular vacuuming. In a worst-case scenario situation, you may need to bring in an exterminator to get the job done.

    close up fleas on cat
    Image Credit: KanphotoSS, Shutterstock

    hepper cat paw divider

    Conclusion

    If you’re looking for a new flea treatment for your cat, we recommend either Revolution Plus or Advantage II. They’re both equally good, so it’s just a question of whether you need to protect against other parasites (in which case, you should use the Revolution Plus) or if you just want maximum protection against fleas (go with the Advantage II).

    If both fail for some reason, Frontline Gold should take care of the problem once and for all.

    Choosing the right flea treatment can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for — and if you get it wrong, your cat will suffer. Hopefully, these reviews will ensure that that doesn’t happen — the products on this list are all extremely effective at killing those disgusting little bugs in record time.


    Featured Image Credit: Maja Marjanovic, Shutterstock

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