Discover how to kill fleas on cats safely without using harmful chemicals. If you’ve been a cat parent for any length of time you will have no doubt come across those tiny little black dots on your cat’s fur.
In this article you’ll learn what are fleas, why cats get them, and how to spot them on your cat. We’ll be looking at some of the natural ways that work, as well as what to avoid.
Unless you treat your home as well, you’ll find it almost impossible to stop fleas returning. In this post we’ll be covering some of the best ways to clean your home so the problem doesn’t reoccur
What are fleas?
Fleas are tiny little insects that you can barely see. They can’t fly as they don’t have wings, but are capable of jumping up to 30 cm high!
It only takes one female to lay her eggs on your cat for rapid infestation. It’s not just your cat or dog that suffers, but your home as well.
One female can lay up to 40 eggs a day!! That’s 280 a week!! And, fleas can live up 2 years, so that’s a lot of eggs!!
How to tell if your cat has fleas
If you stroke your cat and notice what looks like specks of black dust, it could be flea dirt. My vet showed me a little trick to spot fleas immediately.
Comb your pets fur and place any dirt on a piece of paper soaked with water. If it’s flea dirt those little specks will turn red.
what causes fleas on cats?
Your cat doesn’t have to come in direct contact with another animal to catch fleas. Even if you have an indoor cat with no other pets, your cat can still get them.
Typically, flea eggs can make their way into your home on the soles of your shoes or clothing, so it’s impossible to stop an infestation.
If you have other pets such as dogs or rabbits, fleas can easily pass onto your cat. When your cat goes outside she may brush against another animal that has fleas. They can also easily jump from the grass or paving onto her fur.
It’s a complete myth that only dirty homes have fleas! You can have the cleanest house in the street and still get them.
Can humans get fleas from cats?
You won’t get flees in the same way as your cat or dog, but it’s not uncommon to get bitten.
This happens if one jumps from your pet onto you. Fleas thrive in warm, damp conditions, and your cat’s fur is the perfect home for them.
A flea bite is very itchy and looks like a tiny red dot. They can’t thrive on your body, and it’s not possible for females to lay eggs in your hair. However, they can still jump onto your scalp.
I will touch on this later, but for now our main concern is killing fleas on your cat and in your home. Prevention as they say is always better than cure. While you can’t prevent fleas entirely there are a few steps you can take to lower the chances of your cat getting infested
How to prevent fleas on cats
Combing your cat won’t stop fleas but you can buy topical products to help prevent them. It’s important to only use those formulated for cats and strictly follow the instructions.
The most well known is Advantage. It’s available for both cats and dogs, and simply applied onto the back of the neck.
Cats are much more sensitive to chemicals than dogs, and more liable to get an allergic reaction. While the product itself is very effective, it could have mild side effects if your cat ingests any.
Advantage is always applied to the back of the neck as cats can’t lick themselves there. It can however drip down onto the cat’s body.
Washing your cat’s bedding regularly also helps. If your cat sleeps on the bed make sure you change the sheets weekly. Keep carpets vacuumed daily if possible, and don’t forget to vacuum the sofa as well.
How to kill fleas on cats naturally
If you don’t like the idea of using chemicals on your cat, here are a few natural methods you may like to try. Some may prove more effective than others.
Flea combs and how to use them effectively
Using a flea comb the right way can remove most of the eggs from your cat’s fur. A flea comb is different from normal combs in that the teeth are placed very close together.
Before you begin, make sure your cat is sitting on an old towel or blanket. Flea eggs will be falling off the comb and your cat if she is infested.
Starting from the head and working down, gently comb your cat. You’ll be removing any loose fur as well as flea eggs. Check the fur for any flea dirt.
Rinse the comb with warm water and soap to kill any eggs. You may need to do this a few times if eggs are found. With long haired cats you’ll need to use a wider tooth brush to remove any tangles.
It’s unlikely you’ll destroy all fleas and eggs in one go. You’ll probably have to repeat the procedure quite a few times. You can buy shampoo to remove fleas from cats, but in my experience cat’s hate water and being shampooed
What is the best flea comb for cats?
Safari flea comb is widely used by professional groomers. It can be used on both cats and dogs. As it’s smaller than some other combs it’s suitable for kittens.
Natural flea collars for cats-do they work?
There are many types of flea collars available, but most are embedded with harmful pesticides. However, there are natural alternatives.
Protecto’s cat flea collar is safer for your cat as it’s hypoallergenic. Instead of being embedded with chemicals it’s made from 100% natural oils.
It’s claimed fleas are killed on contact with the collar, and is effective for 8 months. It also comes with a guarantee which is reassuring.
Seresto flea and tick collar for cats is similar to frontline but without the need to apply drops every few months. Though it’s not a natural product Seresto has excellent reviews.
The thing I like about this flea collar is it’s safety release feature. If your cat gets caught on anything the collar will safely release itself.
Apple cider vinegar for banishing fleas from your cat
Apple cider vinegar is noted for it’s healing properties. Though it doesn’t kill the fleas, they don’t like the smell and are quickly repelled by it.
Apply topically by mixing 2 parts of apple cider vinegar to 1 part water. Spray lightly on your pet’s coat. You can also dip your cat’s brush or comb in it before grooming.
Spraying your cat’s bedding, and carpets may also prove effective in deterring fleas. Fleas can be notoriously hard to get rid of after an infestation.
Green Fort Bio Spot On a natural alternative
Spot on treatments can be very effective, but many are made from harsh chemicals. Green Fort is made from 100% natural essential oils.
If your cat is sensitive to chemicals you may find this is a great solution. It can be used safely on pregnant cats and kittens over 8 weeks.
Green Fort is guaranteed for 3 months, so it’s very cost effective and great for your pocket. Though it’s advertised as causing causing no allergies there’s always a small chance your pet may be sensitive to it.
What you need to avoid when killing fleas
Though fleas are a nightmare to get rid of, one of the things you should avoid is overuse of harsh chemicals in your home. Many sprays for carpets and upholstery can be quite toxic.
I’m always in favour of using natural products whenever possible. It’s not just about exposing your pets to these chemicals, but you and your family as well.
Always spray any flea repellent in a well ventilated room, and avoid spraying anywhere near your pets. Some of these products have quite a strong smell.
How to treat fleas in your home like there’s no tomorrow!
Killing fleas on your cat is a useless task unless you treat your home as well. Keep reading as I share some tips that are completely natural and proven to be effective.
Fleas hate the smell of rosemary and cedar. You can use both of these to deter them from your home. You can buy cedar chips and sprinkle them in areas where your cat sleeps. They not only deter fleas but moths as well.
Place a pot of rosemary on your windowsill, or grow it in your garden. Finely grind the herb into a powder and sprinkle around the home.
You can also buy rosemary as an oil. Though it can be used to make a wash for dogs, never use it on your cat. Some cats can have a bad reaction to this herb if applied topically.
Thoroughly wash all bedding regularly, and vacuum your mattress. Remove all cushions from your sofa and vacuum using a small nozzle attachment.
Make a homemade flea spray using vinegar diluted in water. Add lemon juice, and pour into a plastic spray bottle. Using the misting nozzle lightly spray your sofa.
You can also use this to spray carpets, your cat’s bedding, windowsills, and all other areas of your home. This is purely preventative, but if you already have an infestation you’ll need to use stronger chemicals.
How to get rid of fleas in your hair effectively
If your cat has fleas it’s quite possible you may get some jumping on you!! Cuddling your cat and sitting near her makes this even more likely.
Most times you’ll simply get one or two harmless bites. However, a couple of fleas in your hair and you’ll soon start to itch!!
Fill a spray bottle with a mix of apple cider vinegar, warm water, baking soda, and lemon juice. Add a few drops of mild shampoo and shake well.
Spray generously onto your hair. Massage into the scalp and through the lengths and ends of your hair. Cover with a shower cap and leave for about 10-15 minutes.
Then, using a very fine tooth comb, drag it from roots to ends. Be careful not to pull any tangles and break your hair. Rinse thoroughly and shampoo as normal.
Apply a good quality leave in conditioner and style as normal. You may need to repeat this a few times, but if it doesn’t work you can buy shampoo that kills lice.
You’ll probably find lice shampoo will effectively kill any fleas that are left in your hair. Always condition well after using this type of shampoo as it will contain harsh chemicals.
Knowing how to kill fleas on cats the right way can keep your pets happy and your home clean.
In this article we’ve covered what fleas are, what causes them, and if they can be passed onto you. We’ve looked at prevention as well as ridding your pets and home of these fast breeding little mites.
While most of the methods I’ve shared in this post are natural, it’s possible you may still need to resort to stronger chemicals. As I previously mentioned, fleas can be very hard to get rid of once you have an infestation.
It’s not just about treating your cat but your home as well. If you kill fleas on your cat but fail to clean your home, they’ll keep coming back.
Flea collars and spot on treatments can be very effective, and in this post I’ve shown you a few natural versions that work, as well as one that’s widely used but does contain chemicals.
Feel free to share your experiences and comments below. Wishing you a purrfect day:)
14 thoughts on “How To Kill Fleas On Cats (Safely And Effectively)”
thanks for this informative post!
We even sometimes had the problem with the fleas. It is soooo grrrr.
Not only for our cat – for us as well of course. One time we even let the
hair of our cat cut. But that’s not the best solution either 🙂
Thanks for your tips! We will try out!
Thank you Brit. Yes, a flea infestation can be extremely uncomfortable!! I agree, trimming your cat’s hair isn’t the best solution!! I’m glad you found my tips useful and wish you and your cat all the best 🙂
What a thoroughly informative article.
I honestly didn’t know that fleas could be a problem in human hair but really appreciate the natural recipe that you provided for getting rid of them.
It’s nice to know also that there are so many natural alternatives to use on our fur babies instead of all those chemicals.
Strangely enough my friends cat loves the bath and has one monthly!
Thank you so much for some great suggestions.
Thank you Fran. Yes, though fleas can’t survive on humans they can still jump onto your scalp. I always try to use natural products whenever possible, unless the problem is too severe. Sometimes you have to resort to stronger alternatives! Interesting to hear that your friend’s cat enjoys a bath. Mine likes sitting in the bath, but only when it’s empty lol 🙂
This is such practical advise Kathy, and it speaks to the heart of every cat owner.
With summer on its way on your side of the world it is something all pet owners will need.
I like the way you advice people to treat this common problem with natural products already in the kitchen and garden, nobody at home is in danger of any pesticides.
Wonderful advice for our beloved furry kids.
Thank you Stella, yes, unfortunately all pet owners have to deal with the problem of fleas at some time or another. I always try to use natural products in all areas of my life, as there’s so many harmful chemicals around 🙂
These are some great tips. I’m all for chemical free alternatives.
Using a flea comb every day does help A LOT because it will grab the eggs and help stop the cycle.
For the carpets, if you have an outbreak, I personally mixed half baking soda and half salt and sprinkle and rub into carpets. I usually leave it in for a few days and then vacuum it up. It works. I have been doing it for years.
Thank you for sharing the useful tip on using baking soda and salt. I’ve not tried that but will certainly give it a go should another infestation occur! Glad you find using a flea comb helps, and yes, they do a great job of removing the eggs!:)
Hi Kathy, thank you for the useful tips. I do not have cats but i have 2 dogs at home. I used to buy collars for them as a preventive measure and i think is quite harmful for both human and pets. I will try the vinegar solution.
Hi Jessie, yes, I agree that most collars are embedded with harmful chemicals that I wouldn’t like my cat to have next to her skin. The natural ones seem ok though. One of the main dangers of collars for cats is the danger of them getting caught up on something. Only those with quick release are advisable. Vinegar certainly is a good solution, and one I’ll try in future if I need to.
It come a long way from the old days of using the old fashioned Malathion Mixture on your Pet’s like Cats & Dogs & yes my Pet does have a reaction to a lot of these spot on treatments as she is a 14 year old I can only use the spot on Revolution seams to work for her ( Jenni -Leigh ) she’s a Lilac Siamese but for some of the other tips I’m happy to look in to them & take them on board for the House protection against fleas Thank You so very much for your support Carol Graydon .
Hi Carol, thank you for your kind comment:) I’ve never heard of Malathion Mixture, but I’m sure it was effective. Yes, unfortunately some cats do have adverse reactions to some spot on treatments. Glad you found one that works for your Siamese and happy you liked my tips on protecting your home against fleas. Thanks for stopping by:)
Thank you for your very useful article. My kitten Neville is a mostly indoor cat with trips outside on a harness and leash.
Could you also address treating the outdoor areas for fleas since many people have pets who are outside frequently and also come indoor?
It is great to see the author of an article responding to every comment. This is a sign of not only someone who cares but someone who is well mannered.
Hi Debbie, glad you found this post useful:) With regards to your question, there are several options. You could simply buy a flea spray for outdoor use, or there is something called nematodes. These are microscopic worms that attack pests including fleas. You water them into the soil using a spray or watering can. As this is a natural method for getting rid of fleas outside it’s environmentally friendly. Hope this helps, and thanks for stopping by:)