If your cat has a flea infestation, regardless of how bad it is, it should not be ignored. When left untreated, a flea infestation can cause skin problems and anemia along with other medical ailments.
Fleas are not only a huge nuisance, they can also pass tapeworm to your cats. Eradicating fleas requires its due diligence and maybe more than a little patience, but it’s not impossible if you cover all the bases. You will have to treat your cat, your house, and your yard.
Cats tend to be more sensitive to chemical flea treatment, so you may want to try a natural remedy to get rid of fleas. Natural flea remedies are safer for your cat and for you.
Here are 6 natural tips to prevent and get rid of fleas on cats:
1. Treating Your Cat
The first step in getting rid of pesky fleas is to treat your cat directly. You can put treatment right on the skin behind your cat’s neck or you can give your fur baby oral treatment if he will let you.
There are many products available and some may not get rid of fleas as well as others, so ask your veterinarian for advice on this.
Flea collars are convenient, but they aren’t the greatest in terms of effectiveness, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.
The next step is flea-combing, which is basically just brushing your cat’s fur with a small-toothed comb and physically pulling the fleas out.
Keep a glass of soapy water next to you when you comb your cat and dip the flea comb into the water after each stroke.
This will quickly kill any live fleas and keep them from jumping off the comb and scattering off to who knows where. Comb your cat every day during your entire flea-killing mission.
2. Flea Comb
This is very similar to the flea comb for dogs, and while some cats may find the scent of citrus unappealing, the way this is prepared can lessen the intensity of the smell to their sensitive noses (but not to the fleas) because you don’t use straight lemon juice. Fleas hate the overwhelming smell of lemon, and it seems to help deter them.
Combining the lemon with a flea comb-it can be either a regular comb, although the super fine toothed ones sold in stores are optimum-does twice as good a job. You get the pests out with the comb while leaving a lingering scent of lemon that will keep them from coming back.
You will need:
- A fine toothed comb or flea comb
- 2-3 lemons
- 3 cups of water
- A spray bottle
- A pot
Pour 3 cups of water into a pot and add in 3 lemons that have been chopped up. Bring this to a boil, and then remove from heat before letting the lemons steep in the water for 3 hours (3 is the magic number here it seems.)
After it is done steeping strain the lemons and their particles from the liquid and pour into a spray bottle. You can then lightly mist your cat and go through their fur with the comb.
Alternatively, you can pour the liquid into a bowl and soak your flea comb directly in the solution and then go over your cat. Do this at least twice a day.
You can also mist their bedding down if they don’t seem to mind the smell. Remember, if your cat seems to think the lemon is unpleasant, try something else. You wouldn’t want to have to live covered in a smell you didn’t like either.
3. Limit Outdoor Exposure
If your cat spends lots of time outdoors, you will probably have more difficulty controlling fleas naturally, since they may be strongly established in the yard (or wherever your cat frequents) as well as in the home.
Be aware that not every flea control method will work for every situation. You may need to use one method for the yard, another for the home and yet another for your cat’s body.
4. Treating Your House
When it comes to fleas, it is not enough to just treat your cat, you have to treat your whole house to get rid of fleas and any eggs. If you skip this step, the fleas could come right back; hence the term nuisance.
Vacuum rugs and couches, making sure to really get into your cat’s bedding and his favorite places to sleep. Fleas love dark places, so reach that vacuum underneath couches and behind furniture.
Vacuum daily in high traffic areas and weekly in low traffic areas. Wash your cat’s bedding and any blankets that he likes to sleep on once a week.
5. Dry D.E. Shampoo
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring rock that is made up of the fossilized remains of ancient hard shelled algae (called diatoms, hence the name.)
Easily crumbled into a fine powder, DE is an effective and safe means of repelling fleas. While harmless to humans or pets, it is lethal to fleas because of its tiny but incredibly sharp edges that can slice right through the pest’s tough, waxy, exoskeleton.
The fleas then die of dehydration. It is important that you only use food grade diatomaceous earth-any other kind is not approved for use on animals or humans, not to mention it will be too finely ground to kill the fleas.
Food grade can be safely used externally and internally in both humans and animals, which means that when your cat goes to lick itself off, DE won’t hurt it.
The biggest thing you want to avoid is breathing it in-you don’t want those little particles in your throat. This can be avoided by wearing a mask when using it in large quantities (if you are dusting the cat’s bedding down, for example) and by not going overboard when putting it on your pet.
You will need:
- Food grade Diatomaceous Earth
- Some gloves
Wearing gloves so as not to pick up fleas yourself, dust your hands with DE, or take a small handful. Pat or sprinkle onto your cat’s fur and rub it in so it’s not just sitting on the surface, also avoiding getting too close to their nose.
Follow this by dusting your pet’s bedding (after you’ve washed it) and rubbing it in well so there aren’t a bunch of loose particles floating around to inhale. You can do this treatment on your cat once a day, and on the bedding once a week.
6. Treating Your Yard
Even if your cat is an indoor-only cat, it’s wise, although not completely necessary, to treat your yard. If you do decide to treat your yard, clean up any loose debris, such as leaves and yard clippings.
Saturate bushes and the area around the perimeter of your house with flea-control spray. Pay close attention to dark, moist areas.
Cats are extremely sensitive to insecticides and any flea-control treatment should be approached with a lot of care. Don’t use flea treatment meant for dogs or cats, even in lower doses.
Make sure that the flea products you choose are age and dose-appropriate for your cat’s weight to prevent kitty from getting sick, or worse. It is best to consult with your veterinarian if you are unsure about which product to choose.