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If you own a cat, chances are fleas are one of your worst nightmares. Their bites can cause your cat to scratch itself frantically. Plus, the fleas can infest your rugs and furniture—and once they’re established, it’s tough to break the cycle. So at the first, slightest sign of fleas, act quickly and reach for a flea treatment for cats and some flea spray for your house.
Signs That Your Kitty Has Fleas
Not sure if you need to worry about this? Check for these tell-tale signs to see if your cat has fleas:
- Scratching their head and ears
- Chewing and biting themselves
- Lots of licking, especially around their legs
- Red and irritated skin (dermatitis)
- Some bald patches from all the scratching
- Tapeworms contracted through flea bites
To check if your cat has fleas, use an inexpensive flea comb (like the one listed below) to hunt for fleas and black specks of “flea dirt” (feces). These are most commonly found at the base of the cat’s spine (where the tail begins), on the cat’s back, or on the belly.
Fleas can be fatal to young kittens so if your kitten has any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.
Are Flea Treatments Safe?
There are plenty of safe ways to get rid of fleas, including the products on this list. Always check with your veterinarian to make sure the treatment you are using is safe, effective, and suitable for your particular cat.
Natural flea prevention tactics can help keep the bugs away, but if you’re dealing with a serious case that natural remedies cannot control, you may want to consider treatments that contain synthetic chemicals.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency regulate flea products and conduct reviews of a product’s safety for the animal, people in contact with the animal, and the environment. These two agencies must approve flea products before they can be sold or marketed. This FDA article has helpful details about flea treatments and their proper use.
If you are concerned about the active ingredients in the flea treatment you are considering, check this article from USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
Make sure the flea treatment you choose is specifically for cats, and that the dosage you use is correct for your cat’s weight. Be very careful if you are also treating your dog for fleas—some flea treatments that are perfectly safe for dogs can be fatal if your cat licks the dog’s fur after the dog has been treated.
Types of Flea Treatments
You’ll find a wide range of flea-repellants and flea treatments on the market.
According to this WebMD article, the most effective ones are topical treatments applied to one spot on the cat’s skin (usually at the back of the neck). These include:
- Fipronil (used in Frontline Plus)
- Selamectin (used in Stronghold/Revolution)
- Fluralaner (used in Bravecto)
Also effective are pills such as Capstar and Comfortis. While the pills and spot treatments make your cat’s blood poisonous to biting fleas, flea collars give off chemicals that either repel fleas or kill them even before they bite your cat.
Experts note that simply treating your cats and other pets is usually not enough to rid your house of a flea infestation. You will need to vacuum furniture weekly, wash rugs and quilts, and clean cat beds. If the infestation persists, you may even need to call in a flea service that will treat your rugs and furniture.
The Best Flea Treatments for Cats
Whether you’re looking for collars, spot-treatments, and oral medications for your cat or sprays for your household, you’ll be able to find something that will help your four-legged buddy stay flea-free. Here are some of the most popular flea treatments for cats and cat households.
This adjustable flea collar uses plant oils (cedarwood oil and peppermint oil) to repel fleas. Some people report it keeps their cats flea-free, while others say it’s less than effective. We think it’s a great option to start with before turning to synthetic chemicals. The collar is effective for four months.Shop on Chewy
2. Revolution Topical Solution for Cats (by prescription only)
Revolution is a topical treatment that must be applied once a month to protect your cats against fleas. It’s expensive, but highly effective and also protects against heartworm. It requires a prescription from your vet and you must be careful to purchase the correct dosage for your cat’s weight. The active ingredient is selamectinShop on Chewy
Though they’re a bit old school, flea combs are still an effective treatment to remove flea’s from your cat’s fur—although you are forced to get up close and personal with the critters. This sturdy comb seems to have the teeth spaced just right for catching those fleas, and for giving your kitty’s coat a soothing brush-through. Both the company and reviewers recommend keeping a cup of water with a bit of original Dawn dish liquid close by for dipping the comb into between strokes. Happy bug-hunting!Shop on Chewy
If your cat rocks at taking medication orally, then this flea treatment will be a treat. Just one dose will start killing fleas within 30 minutes, which is why many reviewers rave that this treatment is the way to go. Kitties need to be two pounds or greater, and at least four weeks old in order to take it. The pill can be given once a day (with or without food) until your flea problem goes away. Active ingredient: nitenpyram.Shop on Chewy
If you want to see some flea-killing action fast, this product claims to start eliminating bugs in just 30 minutes. This topical treatment (applied to the back of the neck) is made from a molecule called spinetoram which occurs naturally in bacteria in the soil. Formulated specifically for cats, this solution is gentle enough for cats that are only 8 weeks old, but also lasts for an entire month.Shop on Chewy
Designed for cats, this spray kills fleas, flea larvae, flea eggs, and ticks. Oh, and it doesn’t contain any of the harsh chemicals that are bad for your feline—just certified natural oils and other safe ingredients. Use this spray on your furniture, crates, pillows, blankets, and other areas of the house. You can use this on cats who are older than 12 weeks, as long as you carefully follow the directions.Shop on Chewy
This shampoo is a great place to start if you have just adopted a cat that turns out to be infested with fleas. Follow the directions for applying and rinsing off the shampoo. You can repeat the treatment once a week until the cat is free of fleas (you should also wash the cat’s bedding to remove flea eggs). Active ingredients: cinnamon oil, clove oil, and cedar oil.Shop on Chewy
If your home is experiencing a flea infestation, this powder can be sprinkled on carpets, furniture, and baseboards. (Do not sprinkle it directly on your cat, and be careful not to inhale it.) It will kill fleas by drying them out, and you can vacuum up the powder three days later and throw away your vacuum bag or empty and clean the canister. (It’s called food-grade because it is used to keep feed for large animals, such as horses, dry.)Shop on Chewy
More Cat Flea Treatment Options
It doesn’t have to be all about cat flea treatments—there are plenty of changes around the house you can make for natural flea protection.
Whatever your preferences, you should be able to find a treatment that works for your household and your cats. Remember—always make sure the formulation is meant for cats, and always consult your vet before using a new product.