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How to Eliminate & Prevent Fleas on Cats

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

cat scratching its head

If your cat has fleas, you know it can be quite challenging to get rid of them. They multiply quickly and can spread throughout your home in a matter of days. Fleas are not only alloying to your pet, they can also cause health problems, like anemia, because the insects are feasting on your cat’s blood. The flea bites can also be itchy and painful, which will cause your cat to scratch and shed more hair around your home. Not long ago, flea collars and fumigating bombs were the only way to deal with this problem, but there are several ways you can eliminate them in modern times. Keep reading while we show you several methods to eliminate fleas on your cat and help prevent their return.

Eliminating Fleas

If your cat already has fleas, you can use several methods to eliminate them, and we’ll look at the best ones in this section.

Commercial Medication

woman putting medication to cat
Image Credit: goodluz, Shutterstock

A dedicated flea medication like Frontline is probably the best way to eliminate fleas for most people. You will put some of this medication on their head or give it to them in a pill form, and in a few days, the fleas will be gone. No matter how you give it to them, the medication goes into the bloodstream and is excreted with natural oils to kill the fleas and the eggs that hatch into new ones. It lasts a full month, and you keep reapplying it so you will never need to worry if your cat goes outside. Without a host, the fleas quickly die off in your home, and you can pick them up with a vacuum. Most flea medications will also protect your cat from ticks and heartworm, another problem that affects cats that go outside and can be life-threatening. None of the DIY methods we will discuss will protect your cat from heartworm.

Flea Bath

cat bath
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

If your cat has fleas, but you find flea medication too expensive or don’t like to put chemicals into your cat’s body, you will need to give your cat a flea bath using a pet-safe flea and tick shampoo. Bathing a cat can be challenging because they usually don’t like water, but it’s very effective at killing fleas, and many shampoos have ingredients that can help soothe the skin that excessive biting and scratching may have irritated. It will also help remove loose fur and cut down on shedding.

Discouraging Fleas


vacuuming cat and bed
Image Credit: tab62, Shutterstock

Once you have given your cat medication or a bath, you will need to vacuum your home thoroughly, paying special attention to areas that your pet frequents often. Fleas also like to hide and lay eggs in out-of-the-way places like closets and under-dressers, so make sure you vacuum there as well. Placing a flea collar or other flea-killing product in the bag can help eliminate the fleas you pick up, reducing the risk they will escape again.

Dish Soap

dishwashing detergent dispenser on a woman's hand
Image Credit: ViDI Studio, Shutterstock

Dish Soap does a fantastic job of eliminating fleas, and you can even use it as a substitute for flea and tick shampoo if the fleas haven’t gotten too bad yet. However, many people like to use it after the bath as a preventative measure to keep the fleas off your cat while you vacuum several times, and the fleas die off. Fill a spray bottle with water and a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Spray your cat’s fur once or twice a day and work it into the fur to eliminate any fleas that may have jumped back on. The downside to dish soap is that it’s very effective at breaking down the oils in your pet’s skin leading to dandruff, itching, and increased shedding. Your cat also licks itself constantly to groom, and you don’t want it eating too much dish soap, which can taste bad and lead to an upset stomach.

Citrus Fruit

Image Credit: Pixabay

Citrus fruits repel most insects, including fleas, and you rarely see blemishes from bugs on these fruits’ skins. You can try slicing up an orange or a lemon and steeping it in hot water for several hours to create a citrus repellant you can put in a spray bottle and apply to your cat to keep the fleas off. It works best after a bath as a preventative measure, and if your cat doesn’t like the spray bottle, you can dip a comb in the solution to apply it.

Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar
Image Credit: focal point, Shutterstock

One more preventative spray you can use is apple cider vinegar. Mix a few tablespoons with a cup of water, put it in a spray bottle, or comb it into your cats’ fur like the citrus fruit or dish soap. This method is easier to make than the citrus solution and will taste better than dish soap, but it is the least effective at eliminating fleas.


Image Credit: Pixabay

Salt is great for eliminating fleas because it pulls the moisture out of their bodies and kills them. It does the same for the eggs. Sprinkling salt over your carpet and allow it to sit for several hours before vacuuming can dramatically reduce the flea population in your home. The salt will also get pulled into the vacuum bag with the fleas, where it can continue to kill and help prevent the fleas from escaping.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth
Image Credit: Mona Makela, Shutterstock

Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from marine shells. It’s extremely absorbent and works like salt to pull moisture out of the fleas’ bodies and eggs to kill them. You can sprinkle this powder over your carpet and furniture and let it sit for a few hours before running the vacuum. It will also continue to kill inside the bag and will prevent the fleas from escaping.

Cedar Chips

cedar chips
Image Credit: ELAKSHI CREATIVE BUSINESS, Shutterstock

If you keep your cat on the porch or in the yard and it still picked up fleas, you can try to add some cedar chips around your home. Fleas and many other insects and animals, including cats, hate the smell of cedarwood and avoid it. Adding cedar chips around your home will reduce the risk of fleas coming onto your property and help prevent stray cats that can also bring fleas.

What should I avoid doing to eliminate fleas?

You should not ignore the problem and must take immediate action at the first sign of a problem. Fleas can multiply extremely quickly and can become a nightmare to eliminate. If the situation gets bad enough, fleas will bite humans, especially the ankles and feet.

You should avoid using essential oils to eliminate fleas. Cats and dogs are very sensitive to many essential oils, including many common air fresheners. They can cause serious health problems, including liver failure, so it’s best to keep them away from your pets.

You should avoid using flea medications and shampoos that contain harmful ingredients. Always do your research before purchasing anything you will use on your pet, especially if it’s an uncommon product. Look at reviews and the labels to see what a product contains and how it worked for others before using it on your cat.


In our experience, a commercial flea medication like Frontline is the best option for most people. It starts working in less than 24 hours, and in a few days, you won’t see any fleas in your home because they will all die without a host. It will also protect your cat from picking up ticks or getting heartworm, both of which can cause serious health problems. DIY methods can work, but they take significantly more effort and attention to detail. Fleas often jump back on the cat after a bath and hide out in locations that you cannot vacuum so they can multiply. You might try for weeks to eliminate the fleas, and your cat will be in distress the entire time. If you have other pets, the fleas will get on them as well. However, if your cat is allergic to the medication, a good bath, and a heavily salted carpet can save the day.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found a few new tips and tricks. If we have helped you ease your cats suffering, please share these steps to get rid of fleas on cats on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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