If your cat has fleas, you can be sure that unfortunately they won’t disappear just like that. The earlier you get rid of them, the better because if you let them spread, you can seriously infect the pet and, consequently, the whole house. Fleas are known for breeding fast and shooting their eggs everywhere, and thus infesting the whole house. Today, we’ll describe to you all the ways to get rid of fleas approved by scientists and vets. You will find out whether it is possible to get rid of them naturally. Is it an effective method or just a waste of your time? We are going to compare the usefulness of all types of treatment known and at the end of the review, you’ll find a list of the 8 best flea control products. The cheapest ones ($5) are combs & shampoos, and the most expensive and effective are drops & pills at the starting price of about $50. Read the review attentively!
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Why are cat fleas so dangerous? They reproduce on both dogs and cats and occasionally bite humans.
Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the most common flea species in the U.S. They are dangerous not only for cats, as the Washington State University confirm that it is the most important flea in much of the U.S. as it can reproduce on both dogs and cats and occasionally bites humans in proximity to these pets. That is why you must rush for treatment in case you have many pets at home in order to avoid a flea epidemic and save you from being bitten.
Many methods were tried during decades of attempts of flea control. Most of them are obsolete and ineffective. The scientists will prompt us to choose treatment wisely. Let’s find out which methods are most effective and safe nowadays.
As the Pennsylvania State University scientists confirm, systemic and spot-on options, such as oral products or topically applied drops can help achieve the best results. Shampoos, combs, dusts and collars follow up.
Drops are safer and more effective than other topical methods and products. Drops are applied between shoulder blades so that your cat cannot accidentally lick the treatment off. Their effect lasts for up to one month, and then repeat use should follow. Imidacloprid-based (Advantage) and fipronil-based (Frontline) products are most common.
Our expert, a vet professor with 30 years of experience, also considers drops to be the best treatment. First, drops are more convenient than sprays. Cats are very fidgety, so when spraying a product, they can escape and then the substance will get into their eyes or on genitals which is very harmful. This will never be the case with drops. You’ll have a chance to drip a few of them in a couple of seconds. Second, imidacloprid-based drops are new generation treatment to which the fleas have not yet adapted. As for us, we regularly drip these drops on the withers of our three animals: it is piece of cake and the pets have had no fleas for the last 5 years.
In this article, we’ll elaborate the effectiveness and tips on use of all the products. Below, you will find a review of products available right now online: TOP- 8 Best Flea Medicines for Cats: Drops, Shampoos, Pills, Collars and Sprays.
Systemic treatment implies intake of tablets, pills or suspensions. There are two types of systemic treatments distinguished by the speed of treatment:
The following four methods are less effective and have substantial disadvantages and cause inconvenience:
Reminder: Permethrin is unsuitable for treating cats as it is too toxic for them! Read any insecticide manual thoroughly before use!
Nope. The scientists are unanimous that natural methods are either useless or have an extremely short-term effect. At the same time, they admit that natural products can be used for getting rid of fleas at home. The Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has listed a number of useless methods of animal treatment, such as electronic flea collars, brewer’s yeast, garlic, vitamin B tablets, and extracts of eucalyptus or pennyroyal that are not flea repellent, and provide no protection for your pet. Don’t expect the blood-suckers to be scared off by herbal collars and cedar products which are a waste of time as well.
The University of California specialists consider both traditional pyrethrins, chlorpyrifos, diazinon and naled-based insecticides and biological d-limonene and carbaryl not very effective. “These products were formulated as soaps, shampoos, powders, dusts, spray-on liquids, and dips. Although many of these products still are available, they aren’t as effective to use as the on-animal treatments above.”
Michael Merchant, Ph.D., Urban Entomologist from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service also believes that biological insecticides are useless against animal fleas. “Botanical insecticides include pyrethrum (or pyrethrins) or citrus oil extracts (i.e., limonene and linalool). Once applied, these products break down in a relatively short time, leaving the pet with no residual protect.”
Diatomaceous Earth as a powder or shampoo is also often promoted as an anti-parasite treatment. In reality, you will be able to kill fleas with dry diatomaceous earth only indoors when it is as least damp as possible. Mixing diatomaceous earth with any amount of water or animal sebum deprives the earth of its killing properties.
Let us warn you again to refrain from following any random advice given by parents and friends, such as using all kinds of essential oils as flea repellents. According to NCBI, tea tree oil, which is used by many women as skin treatment, is toxic for all cats and dogs. If you doubt any homemade product, consult a vet.
According to the information from William Miller Jr., VMD, a professor of dermatology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, fleas possess a greater danger to kittens than to adult species. You should look much more carefully after them, especially if their breastfeeding mother is allowed outside. Kittens have a weak immunity and poorly developed cardiovascular system, so anemia is possible. Moreover, the parasites are attracted by “pregnancy” hormones and can even wait for a cat to give birth. Very often, they attack blind newly born kittens causing them to die.
|Type||Ingredients||Action||Peculiarities and Restrictions|
|Spot-on treatment – drops||Permethrin, imidacloprid, fipronil, dinotefuran||Act on the parasites’ CNS and kills within 12-18 hours on contact||This is the most effective and safe topical treatment.|
|Systemic treatment -oral products||Nitenpyram (tablets)||Fast-acting: killing effect within 6 hours||A quick and effective oral treatment. A single Capstar (nitenpyram) tablet is enough for killing adults.|
|IGRs (pyriproxyfen, methoprene, lufenuron) : suspension, pills||Slow-acting: doesn’t kill adults but prevents egg and larvae from developing into biting adults||Can be used separately or combined with other treatments.|
|Collars||Imidacloprid, flumethrin||Kills and repels pests||According to the scientists, cannot be used for over six days. No residual effect.|
|Combs||Metal||Manual elimination of adult fleas, eggs and feces (up to 60% of pests)||A supplementary measure. Comb your pet as often as possible until there are no traces of parasite presence.|
|Shampoos||Pyrethrins||Act on the parasites’ CNS and kills on contact||A supplementary measure for small-scale infestation. Relatively no residual action. Repeat once in a few days.|
|Topical sprays||Fipronil||KIlls on contact||Don’t simply spray but rub the substance in your pet’s skin.|
|Dusts||Pyrethrins||Kill on contact||Be patient: apply the dust regularly and rub it in your pet’s skin. Restriction: your cat can accidentally inhale or lick the dust off their skin.|
|DE||Kill on contact||Use for treating fleas in the house only. It won’t kill any fleas on your pet or outdoors because of dampness.|
|Organic sprays for home||Clove extract (eugenol), peppermint, d-limonene, carbaryl||Kills on contact||Use for house treatment, frequent repeat application is required.|
|Natural products||Brewer’s yeast, garlic, vitamin B, eucalyptus, pennyroyal oil||Not as effective as flea control products||The scientists claim that they are useless.|
As you would understand, it is recommended to get rid of these parasites simultaneously topically and systemically. That is why we will first describe the best drops for spot-on treatment and two systemic treatment products. The first of the systemic treatment products will be fast-killing tablets, and the second is IGR tablets which act slowly but will eventually destroy the entire population of fleas.
This is a #1 Best Seller in the Over 6,500 customer reviews and high customer ratings testify to its effectiveness. Imidacloprid is the active component here (9%). These drops also contain IGR – pyriproxifen that breaks the flea life cycle.
According to the NCBI studies, imidacloprid provided a significantly greater killing effect than other chemicals. A single topical application of imidacloprid provided high efficacy in early stages of adult fleas’ elimination, limiting the risk of pathogen transmission and allergy dermatitis.
The manufacturer claims that these drops kill all flea life stages within 12 hours after application. The drops’ protective effect lasts for 4 weeks even if you bathe your pets. Put the drops on the withers, which is the least accessible place for animals where they can’t lick off the drops. They are applied monthly, hence the packs of 4-6 vials.
The drops are very convenient. All you have to do is drip them on the withers. It is fast, simple and effective.
Price: Check current price
The active ingredient of this fast-acting product is nitenpyram. It is an insecticide widely used in vet practice for removing parasites off animals. Capstar promises to kill all the biting adults within six hours. Consumers add that the effect of a single tablet lasts for about a day, till the next use. This measure is effective but temporary as it will not save your pet from new fleas, but will relieve its suffering considerably. Be sure to keep these tablets in your first-aid kit at home, especially in high flea season.
Remember that these are not typical vitamins which require a whole course of treatment, but tablets which are to be used once a day for a few days. Don’t forget to read the manual carefully!
Price: Check current price
This suspension is based on an IGR called lufenuron and is aimed at breaking the cycle of biting species hatching from the eggs. The program is extremely effective, but, as any other IGR, acts slowly but steadily. That is why it is preferable not to use this product separately, but to combine it with a topical treatment. Watch the dosage, as the manufacturer offers a variety of options for cats of different weight.
Read all reviews to know more about using this suspension.
Price: Program for cats 11-20 lbs: Check current price
Price: Program for small cats & kittens 1-10 Lbs: Check current price
Although the above mentioned products will be sufficient to get rid of fleas on cats, we feel obliged to review other products as well. Below, you will found out which shampoo is best-suited for emergency and preventive treatment and which natural spray is appropriate for treating your house from these jumping parasites.
Have you noticed that many anti-flea products are universal, i.e. they suit both cats and dogs? This is the case of Frontline Spray. It’s a spot-on treatment product. The active component here is fipronil, a well-known insecticide used for exterminating various insects, including fleas and ticks. Its concentration in the spray is only 0.29%, which makes it less concentrated but more economical than drops. The manufacturer claims that a single use will help the pet get rid of fleas for up to 30 days.
read all of the customer feedback yourself and draw your own conclusions regarding this product.
Price: Check current price
Have you ever picked up a stray pet and felt an urgent need to treat it or are you looking for a cheap prevention measure? Use this shampoo, as it kills fleas fast and can be used to treat the whole fur of your pet. Although its effect is short term, you will soon see that your cat feels much better. Adams Plus shampoo is a #1 Best Seller in the Cat Flea Control Shampoos category.
It contains such active ingredients as piperonylbutoxide, methoprene, and pyrethrin. Methoprene is an insect growth regulator, which stops eggs from hatching. Pyrethrin (don’t confuse it with synthetical permethrene) is a well-known organic insecticide. Unlike toxic permethrene, it is harmless for cats. Piperonylbutoxide enhances pyrethrin’s action. This might well be all you need to know about the chemicals this shampoo contains. As for the organic components, you’ll find soothing aloe, lanolin and oatmeal there in order to balance insecticides and make your pet’s fur look and smell good.
Adams Plus can be used on both cats and dogs over 12 weeks old approximately once a month. Apply 1-2 tablespoons of shampoo on your pet’s body, add some water, lather well (don’t touch the face, eyes and ears) and leave for 5 minutes. Rinse off with lots of water afterwards. Combing the hair in order to remove the victims of the shampoo is then desirable.
Price: Check current price
When treating your pets, don’t forget to remove parasites from your house as well. Fleas jump very well and can throw their eggs a great distance, so it is highly likely that they have already bred all over the place.
Ideally, you should treat your house and pet simultaneously. You’d better use organic products approved by scientists for the former purpose. Make sure you vacuum clean all carpets, floors, pet beddings and furniture, and spray it with a special substance in advance.
Vet’s does not have any residual action and will only kill parasites on contact, so you will have to conduct repeat use frequently. The users note that the spray smells nice and does not leave any marks on surfaces. Don’t overdo the treatment though, as light spraying will be enough. You can read over 4100 customers’ reviews to decide whether it is worth buying.
Price: Check current price
A flea collar and a comb are your first-aid kit’s must-haves. Keep them ready at any time, especially if your pet is allowed outdoors. If it catches fleas, these two items will help reduce the flea population while you prepare for some more serious treatment.
Remember that you should take the collar off after six days of non-stop wearing and seal it in a jar until the next incident. You will also have to comb your pet multiple times.
Nowadays, Bayer Seresto Collar is the best-selling Cat Flea Collar. It kills and repels parasites on contact. This product will work for 8 months from the first use. The active ingredients are flumethrin and imidacloprid. The collar is light and is comfortably worn around the neck so that the pet can gradually get used to wearing it. Bear in mind though that if you have 2 or more animals, you should be careful when using collars and wear them only outside as the cats can accidentally bite off pieces of collar and get poisoned.
The collar’s moderate price and effectiveness have earned high customer ratings. However, cat owners give some valuable advice telling you to be careful when first using any flea product. Naturally, should any signs of allergy, drowsiness or excessive anxiety appear, you’ll have to take the collar off. Read over 4,000 customer reviews about using the Seresto Collar.
Price: Check current price
When picking a comb, opt for a metal one. Its teeth will be able to comb all eggs and larvae that have stuck to hair better than plastic. We recommend that you pick the best brush available, especially since they don’t cost much. A Safari Flea Comb with a Double Row of Teeth is a #1 Best Seller in the Cat Flea Combs category. It costs only Check current price and its customer rating is 4.4 out of 5 stars.
NB: Wearing a collar and combing is merely first-aid and not complete removal of blood-suckers. If you would like to completely relieve your pet from all suffering, use highly effective spot-on and systemic products.
|Product||Type||Active Ingredients||Best use||Price|
|Bayer Advantage II ||Spot-on Drops||Imidacloprid, pyriproxifen (IGR)||Drop on the withers. The effect will last for up to a month|
|Capstar Flea Pills ||Fast-Acting Pills||Nitenpyram||Fast Killing, feed the cat one pill a day|
|Program Oral Suspension ||Systemic – Slow-Acting Suspension||Lufenuron (IGR)||Use as a preventive or treating food supplement once a month||Check the current price (6-pack)|
|Frontline Treatment Spray ||Chemical Spray||Fipronil||Spray over the withers and rub in. The effect will last for up to 30 days|
|Adams Plus ||Chemical Shampoo||Methoprene, pyrethrin||Apply a small amount of shampoo on your pet’s body, foam and leave for five minutes. Use when needed|
|Vet’s Best Home Spray ||Organic Spray for Indoors and Outdoors||Clove extract (eugenol), peppermint oil||Spray indoor and outdoor surfaces, furniture, carpets, floors and your cat’s bedding|
|Bayer Seresto Collar ||Collar||Imidacloprid, flumethrin||Wear outdoors only, non-stop wearing is recommended for no longer than six days|
|Safari Comb ||Metal Comb||–||First aid: comb the fur from roots to end, repeat regularly during treatment until full flea removal>|
Everything is really simple; there are only two ways a cat can get fleas:
Prevention: Lay a mat before the front door and wipe your feet carefully, vacuum clean more often and clean the entrance to your place as often as possible, especially if your pet loves hanging there. Wash your shoes more often and don’t wear the same ones outside and at home.
Prevention: Since you’ll be barely able to control where your pet is running around or laying about outside (unless you walk it on a leash), make sure you buy a high-quality flea collar. Such collars contain powerful yet mild pet chemicals which repel fleas and ticks for a few months. If you pick a really good one, constantly wearing it won’t cause any skin allergies.
NB: The experts from the Department of Entomology in Penn State warn that fleas may be present, though unnoticed, all year around in the house but frequently become troublesome following return from a vacation. Fleas inside an empty house soon become extremely hungry. When the vacationers return, they are greeted by these neglected fleas that now make their presence known by biting avidly. Flea bites on humans are generally most prevalent on the ankles and lower portion of the legs.
As we have already explained in our Best Dog Flea Treatment review, identifying infestation is easier when you communicate with the pet, pet it and go through its fur. Here are the main infestation stages.
Attention! This stage of infestation is crucial to identify as it’s high time to save your poor cat! It won’t be able to solve this problem without your help. Other hints of infestation are:
As we have mentioned, fleas are not faithful to one host. They can breed on dogs as well. Not only do they cause your pets to suffer from an unbearable itch, make them nervous, sad and deprive them of sleep, they can also carry diseases. As the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine specialists claim, ”these tiny, wingless creatures often carry infectious agents themselves – such as dog and cat tapeworm.”
Are they dangerous for humans? They are. Fleas often inhabit carpets and can bite your ankles or shins (they cannot reach any higher). If you ignore single bites, they will breed and intensify their biting activity. The specialists explain that in this case, people risk having a “cat-scratch disease”.
Besides using special control products and methods, you should start exterminating fleas at home once you see the slightest signs of infestation, especially in the places your cat loves the most: its own spot, sofas, soft chairs, carpets and even your car if you drive your pet anywhere. Everything should be clean, washed and processed with special products (refer to our Review of the Best Flea Control Products for more details).
The UC Statewide IPM Program experts recommend following these steps when cleaning:
Remember that the vacuum cleaner will remove most of the adults, some eggs (30-60%) and just a few larvae (15-30%). The latter clutch on the carpet pile too tightly and can remain there even after cleaning. Steam cleaners are usually more effective.
High flea season lasts from spring to late fall. Pay special attention to preventive measures at this time: