Cat flea treatment can be a confusing topic. And fleas can be very frustrating – both for you and your cat. Especially since most cat owners never expect their cat to get fleas in the first place! As a result, most cat owners are not prepared when their cat contracts fleas, and they’re not sure how to proceed.
Cat Flea Treatment – The Safe Way
The best way to treat fleas on your cat is to prevent them. This can be easily done with a monthly flea product. However, it is easy to forget to apply the treatment regularly. In the event that your cat does get fleas, you will want to make sure their treatment is both safe and effective.
The Old Method
Some cat owners use older-style pesticides like pyrethrins or organophosphates, but they can be harmful to your cat and should never be used on small kittens, pregnant or nursing cats, or cats in bad health. Other pet owners use flea collars and flea shampoos available in pet stores, but these are not nearly as effective.
The New Method
The safest and most effective flea treatments are the preventatives available by prescription from a veterinarian, like Frontline, Advantage and Revolution. The active ingredient is either fipronil or imidacloprid, which quickly kills fleas and prevents further infestation. Though they are preventatives, these products are also great for dealing with an outbreak.
Non-chemical remedies include flea combs and diatomaceous earth (DE). Used regularly, a flea comb will remove eggs and some fleas, but is not an effective control method when used alone. DE is a fine powder made from crushed algae, which has microscopic sharp pieces of grit that puncture the flea’s hard outer body. It is very safe and effective for use in the environment and directly on a cat, although it does not kill fleas immediately.
Be cautious of natural treatments containing essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus oils. Cats cannot metabolize the compounds in many essential oils and can go into liver failure if exposed to them. Always read and follow packaging directions on any flea treatment, especially if it says it is not safe for kittens or pregnant or nursing cats. If you decide to use DE, buy food grade DE online or from a pet or health food store.
Flea Treatment for Kittens
Flea-infested kittens are prone to health issues such as anemia. If kittens are too young for chemical flea treatment, a safe option is bathing them in a gentle dish washing detergent. Your kitten will probably now like it, but it is safe.
You may want wrap kittens in a small towel to keep from getting scratched and to keep them calm. Wet them down, apply the soap and let the lather remain on the skin for about five minutes. Rinse very thoroughly. The bath can be followed by using a flea comb to remove dead and stunned fleas.
There are many different options to choose from when treating fleas on your cat. Each offers a varying level of effectiveness, but the most important considerations should be how safe the product is for your cat.
For the best combination of safety and effectiveness, most vets recommend prescriptions like Frontline, Advantage and Revolution. They are known to work well, and cat owners can work with their vets to make sure they are using a safe dose.