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How to Eliminate & Prevent Fleas on Cats: 9 Vet-Approved Methods

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

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Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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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.

How to Eliminate 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.

1. Commercial Medication

woman putting medication to cat
Image Credit: goodluz, Shutterstock

A pour-on flea medication like Frontline is probably the best way to eliminate and prevent flea infestations. This kind of medication comes inside easy applicators. Each applicator contains the correct dose for your cat depending on their weight.

Knowing your cat’s weight is crucial so you can choose the right product. You will pour the entire contents between your cat’s shoulder blades. The reason that this is the site of the application is that cats cannot reach and lick themselves there. If you have more than one cat or pet, it’s recommended to keep them separated for at least 24 hours. You should also avoid getting your cat wet during this period.

Frontline kills fleas, flea larvae, and eggs and can protect your cat from fleas for up to 3 months, though a monthly application is recommended because this pour-on medication will also protect your cat from ticks and chewing lice. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and other tick-borne diseases that are dangerous not only for your cat but also for you and other humans in your household. Frontline can only protect your cat against chewing lice or ticks for a month, so monthly applications are recommended.

2. Flea Bath

cat bath
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

If your cat has fleas but flea medication is too expensive or you don’t want to put a pour-on medication on your cat, 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.

3. Flea Comb

flea combing a tabby cat
Image Credit: Simone Hogan, Shutterstock

As the name suggests, a flea comb is a comb with long and thin teeth that are spaced very closely together. Fleas will get trapped between the teeth and can then be drowned in a solution of warm soapy water. While this mechanical method might seem old-fashioned, it is safe and free from chemicals. The flea comb works very well in conjunction with many of the other methods in this post.

Preventing Fleas

1. Vacuum

cleaning carpet using vacumm
Image Credit: kropekk_pl, Pixabay

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.

2. Unscented Baby Castile Soap

Girl washes cat in the bath
Image Credit: Olleg, Shutterstock

Castile 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. It has a gentle surfactant effect that kills fleas upon contact, though that means this kind of soap is only effective against the adult fleas living on your cat during bath time.

Remember to use only pure, unscented Castile soap that does not contain any essential oils, as those are toxic to cats. This soap is not effective against flea eggs and will not protect your cat against fleas once they’re dry. This method works well in combination with a flea comb and regular bedding washing with hot water, soap, and vinegar, as well as steam cleaning and vacuuming around your home to control and prevent reinfestations.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar
Image Credit: focal point, Shutterstock

Another natural remedy that you can use is apple cider vinegar. Mix a few tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water and then put the mixture in a spray bottle or comb it into your cat’s fur. Be very careful to avoid the cat’s eyes and nose.

Remember to always dilute the organic apple cider vinegar, and keep an eye on your cat’s skin to make sure this does not cause further irritation. This method works best when combined with a flea comb, regular bedding washing, home vacuuming, and steaming cleaning

4. Salt

Image Credit: andreas160578, 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 allowing 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.

5. 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 overnight before running the vacuum. It will also continue to kill inside the bag and will prevent the fleas from escaping.

However, keep in mind that you should be very cautious around diatomaceous earth. Use only food-grade diatomaceous earth, wear a protective face mask to avoid inhaling it, and keep your cat away from the treated area until you have vacuumed away the product.

6. 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 picks 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. Cedar chips should only be used outside your home.

What Should I Avoid?

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 on 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 dog flea medications and shampoos that contain potentially 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.

Final Thoughts

In our experience, a commercial flea medication like Frontline is the easiest 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 and chewing lice, 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 will multiply. If you have other pets, the fleas will get on them too. However, if you prefer alternative methods, a good bath and a heavily salted carpet can save the day.

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

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Featured Image Credit: Uschi_Du, Pixabay

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