Cat Supplies > Cat Fleas

Cat Fleas - Eliminate
Them From Your Home

Cat fleas are every cat owner's nightmare!

Once you have an infestation on your cat, it's not long before you have an infestation in your home.

It is therefore essential that you treat your cat AND your home together. Fleas breed and multiply at an alarming rate. After they've fed on the blood of your cat they will jump off and lay eggs in carpets, bedding and other fabrics they can find.

There's nothing worse than being uncomfortable and anxious in your own home while your cat suffers too.

siamese mix cat

I experienced a severe flea problem with my siamese cat 'Eine' (photo above). It was a rude awakening. The good news is I did find some cheap ways of getting rid of the fleas after trying a number of different methods. The pests are now gone and have not returned. Eine is a happy cat again!

Disclaimer: I'm not a vet, but I do provide information on this page which helped me get rid of cat fleas. I'll outline the different products I tried and tell you which ones were the best and which ones did not work as hoped. Please consult your vet for professional medical advice.

How to Tell
When a Cat Has Fleas?

The first indication that a cat may have fleas is that they start to excessively scratch and bite their fur, develop bald spots, or vomit more than usual.

If a cat has light-colored fur, you will usually see the fleas without much effort by parting the fur and inspecting the skin's surface. Fleas are tiny, flat, dark little bugs that are hard to catch because of their near-infinitesimal size and ability to quickly jump off any surface. In fact, fleas can jump over 200 times the length of their bodies.

cat flea dirt

In addition, owners may notice a blackish, dandruff-like substance clinging to roots of the cat's fur. This is flea excrement or "flea dirt" and is a good sign that fleas are busy sucking your cat's blood for nourishment.

On dark-colored cats, you may have to bathe the cat or use a flea comb in order to see the extent of the infestation before deciding what to use as a cat flea control product.

Cat fleas are surprisingly hard to kill by hand. I found that simply trying to squish them between my fingers did not kill them. Fleas have an incredibly strong exoskeleton.

If you think fleas are small and hard to see, just look at the size of these flea eggs!

cat flea eggs cat flea

Liquid Flea Treatments

Spot On flea treatments close in strength and effectiveness to prescription flea medication are available without visiting a veterinarian. Entirelypets and Petcarerx have a good range. These include:

How Do They Work?

cat flea treatment
Photo courtesy of Nottingham Vet School

Topical or spot-on flea treatments come in small plastic tubes. They are applied directly to the back of the cat's neck.

You'll need to get your cat into a calm place in your house and be ready to apply the treatment without them squirming (as much as it's possible!) It may help to have someone else hold the cat still while you part the fur on the back of its neck between the shoulder blades.

Empty the entire contents from the tube on to the cat's skin (avoiding smearing it on the fur as much as possible). From there, the natural oils in your cat's coat will spread the liquid throughout the body.

The solution is also absorbed into the animal's bloodstream too, killing existing fleas and providing protection from infestation for up to 30 days.

Kitten Flea Products

Since kitten flea products contain different ingredients intended for a kitten's immature skin, fur and general physiology, a flea treatment for kittens will not work on an adult cat. Likewise, an adult cat flea control product should not be used on kittens.<br>

Pills to Kill Fleas

One of the best remedies during my flea infestation were some little non-prescription pills called Capstar. The active ingredient being Nitenpryam.

Available in many different doses via Amazon, these pills have been proven in this study by Department of Entomology, University of California, to administer a 100% kill rate on cat fleas.

While not the cheapest of all cat flea treatment methods, it was for me a lifesaver, and worth every penny to end the problem.

cat flea treatment

It's amazing how fast these pills act once ingested. After an hour I combed her through and saw reams of dead fleas stuck on the flea comb. This was the beginning of the end of the flea war. After giving her a Capstar pill once per day for a few days and continuing with the vacuuming (see 'Treating Your Home' below) all the fleas were gone!

I've always kept some of these pills at the ready should she ever get fleas again. I wish I had found this at the first sight of a flea, but better late than never.

Bathing Cats

During my war on the fleas, I resorted to bathing our cat. This way I could see the true extent of the infestation on her.

What I did was to use a gentle shampoo - Baby shampoo and massage it into her coat avoiding the face.

This resulted in all the fur becoming matted down and the fleas revealed themselves as little black dots all over. It killed a lot of fleas, much to my relief. But, some of the blighters still lived! Even after leaving the soapy lather on for 10 minutes and rinsing - some were still alive!

While not 100% successful, it did kill many of the fleas and I imagine it bought some relief to her itching too.

Flea Combs

Flea combs were my greatest weapon (aside from the vacuum cleaner) in my war on fleas.

Regular brushes and combs will slide over fleas - but flea combs will capture the vast majority. I spent many hours combing her through and after catching a couple of fleas on the comb, I would drop it into a tupperware tub containing warm water with a little dish soap mixed in. Bingo! The fleas sink to the bottom of the tub and drown.

I tried this once without adding soap to the water. I couldn't believe it as I watched these fleas appear to drown, then resurface and actually jump back out of the tub! Adding the dish soap creates a film which the fleas cannot jump through.

Flea combs are also useful to have around to keep checking your cat for any remaining fleas.

Treating Your Home

When you experience a severe flea infestation on indoor cats, this usually means the house is infested with fleas as well. In my experience it became so bad that just walking over the carpet caused fleas to jump out of the carpet pile and onto my socks! Just sitting on the sofa resulted in itchy flea bites on my ankles, legs and arms.

If you don't know if you have fleas in your carpets, try wearing white socks and walk across the carpet. Fleas are attracted to bright materials. I found fleas jumped on to my socks immediately! They'll be easy to spot on a white sock - you'll see black/dark brown flecks.

Are Flea Bombs Any Good?

In my experience flea bombs/foggers did not work.

Flea foggers consist of very strong chemicals that are released from an aerosol container. In order to use them, we had to remove all seat cushions and sofa cushions and scatter them around the room so the chemicals could sink into the sofas. We covered and turned off all electrical items because foggers contain flammable chemicals.

I had to choose a time where we could be out of the house for at least 4 hours. Of course I also had to place our cat somewhere away from the fogger too.

After use the room must be aired out for at least one hour.

If you choose to try a flea bomb, please remember that everything in the room will be covered in a toxic chemical film. Before returning small children and pets to the room, make sure to wipe down table tops, shelves and any other objects that were exposed during treatment.

Does Using Borax Work?

In my experience, yes it does! Borax is a very cheap way of killing cat fleas embedded in furniture, clothing, cat beds, carpets and other fabrics.

Borax is available at all major supermarkets in the laundry aisle. One common brand name is 20 Mule Team Borax. It's a white power that looks just like any powered laundry detergent. (It's not to be confused with Boric Acid which is a different product altogether and is much more toxic).

Borax acts as a drying agent which destroys the exoskeleton of fleas and dehydrates their bodies. Adding regular table salt to the treatments below will also help kill fleas.

How to Use Borax

Manual Application for Carpets/Sofas/Floors

Get an empty pringles can (or something similar) and poke holes in the plastic lid. Fill half way with borax and a few tablespoons of salt and shake over cushions, underneath sofa seats, under the sofa itself, along the edges of the room and over carpeted areas. Using a broom or garden rake sweep over the carpet - this helps the Borax to penetrate deeper into carpet fibers.

Leave for at least an hour - or a few hours if possible. Then vacuum over each surface it has been applied to.

If you have a cylinder dust collector on your vacuum you will be able to see little flecks jumping and darting inside - fleas captured!

Now don't let them escape from the vacuum cleaner! Either place a little borax and salt inside the bag/cylinder and leave them to die or better still empty the bag into a trash bag, tie it shut and remove from the house immediately. Then rinse out the cylinder or replace the bag.

You may need to repeat this treatment (as I did) a few times over. I did this once per day because it was so bad. It was hard work but it did work.

Another tip is to apply borax under sofa cushions and over the external parts of the sofa, then cover with a large sheet. This way you don't have to vacuum it all up right away, you can still sit on your furniture and it gives the borax more time to work. (Of course wash the sheet afterwards too).

Laundry Use

Using Borax in your laundry is actually what the product is intended for. All you have to do is gather together the affected items, add a couple of tablespoons of Borax into the wash or 1/2 cup- either directly in the drum or via the pull out compartment. Wash as usual.

Is Borax safe to use around cats?

It's certain that large amounts ingested can cause illness. This article discusses the possible dangers.

When using products like Borax, don't leave your cat exposed to it. Cats can walk across floors sprinkled with it and then lick their paws. Ingesting borax can be toxic.

Never apply borax directly on to your cat.

When it comes to your cat's health, be on the safe side and clean up any borax before introducing your cat back into the treated room.

What About Getting the Carpet Steam Cleaned?

In my own research on the subject, I found that steam cleaning carpets infested with fleas can actually worsen the problem. The moisture and heat used during the cleaning process is heavenly for fleas and may speed up the egg hatching cycle.

Bowls of Water and a Lamp?

Now this method is as cheap as it gets! Fleas are attracted to bright light. Use this against them!

Fill a shallow wide white plate or dish with water and a little dish soap. Place on the floor directly underneath a lamp. Do this at night so there is a greater contrast between the bright light and the rest of the room. Turn off all other lights. Leave the bowl overnight and the following morning you should see if any fleas have jumped into the bowl.

Outdoor Cats and Fleas

Many cat owners automatically put a flea collar on their roaming cats at the beginning of summer. Because the activities of outdoor cats usually involve bumping into other cats, exploring other people's backyards and garages (where dogs hang out) and hiding in buggy weeds while preying on unsuspecting birds, keeping outdoor cats flea-free during the warmer months is a significant challenge.

As a result, the most effective cat flea control measures consist of regularly replacing their flea collars and giving them periodic flea baths. Owners may need to resort to giving their cats prescription flea pills if the cat is allergic to fleas and becomes ill in reaction to the bites.

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