Keeping cats protected from fleas and other parasites is important. Many of them aren’t just nuisances – they can transmit dangerous diseases. Below, I’ll tell you about the top 6 flea treatments for cats. Before that, though, let’s take a look at some common questions and the major types of treatments available when deciding how to get rid of fleas in cats.
Can Cats Get Fleas?
Yes. Even indoor cats can get fleas – these little pests are masters of infiltrating. Cats often develop fleas through contact with indoor-outdoor pets, by interacting with outdoor animals at windows, or just from your clothes if you’re the one who brings them inside. Cat fleas (not to be confused with dog fleas, which are a different insect entirely) are especially fond of humid and warm areas.
For more information on this topic, check out this article from The Nest.
Quick Look : Best Flea Treatments for Cats in 2019
Why Are Cat Fleas So Dangerous?
Aside from their ability to carry disease, cat fleas tend to cause constant scratching. This can lead to open wounds that soon become infected – and eventually, it can even lead to a human-affecting form of typhus. In kittens, fleas can contribute to the development of anemia.
It’s impossible to tell when fleas will make it into your home – so it’s always safer to use an ongoing flea treatment and protect your purring partner.
Types of Flea Treatments
Topical treatments are a form of medicine applied directly to the skin of your cat, usually right around the base of their neck. Many of them repel a variety of different pests – not just ticks – making them quite convenient once your pet gets used to them. The medication itself works by spreading over the cat’s body, allowing the sweat glands to release it over the course of each dose.
Most topical treatments continue working even if pets get wet, making them ideal if you bathe your cat on a regular basis.
Tip: Rub topical medications between your hands to warm them up, and use them when your cat is sleeping and relaxed. They may panic and run around the first few times, but eventually, they’ll get used to it.
Oral treatments are an alternative to topical medications. Most consist of something your cat should eat monthly. Aside from basic pest control, oral medications are good for preventing various types of worms. This is especially helpful if you have an outdoor cat since they’re more exposed to parasites than indoor pets.
However, oral medications have more side-effects than topical treatments. They’re not common, but people have reported issues like diarrhea, itching, vomiting, redness, loss of appetite, and depression following the use of these treatments. If your cat displays any of these symptoms, stop using the oral medication and switch to an alternative treatment.
Spray treatments are one of the easiest ways to control fleas – just spray them now and then! While you shouldn’t get the spray in your pet’s eyes or mouth, it’s safe for them to lick their fur. Sprays typically last for several months, making them an excellent choice if you don’t want to apply the medicine more often than you have to.
Some cats may react poorly to sprays, especially if they’re not used to being wet. If your cat falls into this category, consider acclimating them to water before starting a spray treatment.
Note that unlike topical treatments, sprays can be washed off if your cat is bathed. Use something else if your cat gets completely wet on a regular basis.
Powder treatments are harder to use than most flea treatments for cats. Instead of being sprayed on, they’re actively rubbed all over your cat’s body. Like oral treatments, powders are associated with a wide variety of side effects, including drooling, depression, shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Discontinue using the powder – and carefully wash your cat – if they start showing any of these conditions.
Flea shampoo is a short-term solution designed to remove fleas at all stages of their life. It’s important to note that shampoo treatments may not be perfect, and they do nothing to stop an infestation from returning if fleas find their way back.
This is a good choice if you don’t want to give your cat medicine unless it’s necessary. Flea shampoo is also a good supplement to other treatments if you think your pet may have contracted fleas while visiting a new area.
Dips are a more concentrated form of the spray treatment. Here, a sponge is used to douse your cat with a concentrated solution. Alternatively, pets can be mostly submerged, then allowed to air dry. Most dips use Pyrethrum, an insecticide created from the chrysanthemum plant.
However, there are some health concerns from dipping, especially because the chemicals can stay in a cat’s fur for as long as two weeks. Do not use dipping as an at-home treatment – instead, it should only be done by a veterinarian when other treatments aren’t working.
The flea collar is an excellent choice if you want your cat to wear a collar since they double as a way to hold an identification tag. Most flea collars work for several months, making them quite helpful if you don’t want to apply treatments on a regular basis.
Reactions to flea collars are generally mild, but some pets find the smell of them to be irritating and don’t want to wear them. Try conditioning your cat to collars first, and if they continue resisting, switch to a different treatment.
Are There Any Natural Flea Treatments For Cats?
That depends on how you define ‘natural’. The most popular insecticide, Pyrethrum, is made from a natural plant. Ultimately, any effective treatment is going to have a certain amount of processing, but some treatments are more natural than others.
Topical, shampoo, and flea collar treatments are generally effective without causing too many reactions. Shampoo is particularly mild, though it’s also the least-effective in that it doesn’t protect your cat over time. Oral, spray, powder, and dip treatments are less natural and more likely to result in side effects, so it’s probably better to stick with the first three unless you have a good reason to change.
What If The Product I Bought Doesn’t Work?
First, make sure you’re using it as instructed. If it still doesn’t work, try another product. All of the suggestions below are effective on most cats, but there are always cases of fleas growing resistant to a certain product. This doesn’t mean the product you bought is bad, just that it wasn’t right for the particular strain of fleas your cat has. Keep trying different products until you find one that works.
The Top 6 Flea Treatments
Now that you know a little more about the available treatments, let’s look at the top 6 options.
Advantage II Flea Treatment Check Price
This popular topical treatment kills fleas at all stages of their life cycle – an important part of stopping the infestations. Like most topical treatments, it’s completely waterproof and lasts about four weeks, making it an easy once-per-month application.
Advantage II usually starts killing fleas within 12 hours as it spreads over your cat’s body. While the once-per-month dosage is recommended in most cases, severe infestations could require a dose every seven days (for adults) or fourteen days (for kittens).
Note that Advantage II comes in a variety of doses and packages. Large cats require a different dose than small cats, and kittens require an even smaller dose. Be sure you understand your cat’s growth and weight cycle before purchasing any version of this product. Failure to do so could result in an ineffective treatment – or worse, a dangerously concentrated dose of medicine.
- Extremely effective on fleas at all stages of life
- Recommended by many veterinarians
- Highly resistant to water
- Available in packs of many sizes
- So many options you have to double-check what you’re getting
- Not intended for ticks or other pests
- Fleas in some areas (esp. Florida) may be resistant to this product
Seresto 8-Month Flea & Tick Collar for Cats & Kittens Check Price
Seresto’s 8-month collar is one of the most popular flea collars on the market, and with good reason. Unlike Pyrethrum, which has a smell many cats are averse to, this collar uses the odorless chemicals imidacloprid (a chemical that controls fleas) and flumethrin (which acts against ticks). Unlike topical treatments, this product is appropriate for use on all cats of 10 weeks or older, regardless of weight.
This collar typically begins killing fleas in 24 hours and ticks in 48 hours. Once it’s on, it starts working on new infestations in two or six hours, respectively, with no need to wait until the pests bite your cat. It’s not as resistant to water as most topical medicines, but it is sturdy enough to endure the occasional bath and regular exposure to the sun.
The chemicals are released directly onto your cat’s body where the collar touches it, and the polymer used to make the collar ensures steady distribution over several months. While it’s safe for your cat to sleep with you while wearing this collar, consider replacing it if it gets damaged – that can lead to the chemicals being released much faster than they should be.
- Lasts longer than many of its competitors
- Odorless, and therefore much less likely to bother cats used to collars
- Extra visibility reflectors make your cat easier to see
- Works on fleas and ticks
- Slower to start working than many other products
- Not safe for children to play with
- Severe infestations may take longer to resolve
Cheristin Flea Treatment Topical For Cats Check Price
This topical treatment is appropriate for all cats over 1.8 pounds and 8 weeks old. Like most topical treatments, it lasts for a full month and provides steady protection without the risk of being washed or scratched off. The fast-acting chemical in this product (Spinetoram) usually begins killing fleas in as little as 30 minutes of the initial application, with 98%-100% of fleas gone within 12 hours.
Spinetoram is a relatively uncommon chemical in pet products, though it has broad use in agriculture for its pest-controlling properties. This is not a concern – Spinetoram is safe for cats (and humans) in the concentration used for topical treatments. In fact, this chemical is gentle enough that it’s safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old, which is younger than many other products allow.
Unlike some other products, Cheristin’s flea treatment does not require a prescription from a vet. This is particularly helpful if you’ve tried a number of prescription products and they haven’t worked – without the need to rely on those, you can just order this and start using it.
One thing to be aware of is that Cheristin does not recommend using this product more than once-per-month, even for particularly severe cases. If your pet has an unusually bad case of fleas, consider a product like Advantage II instead.
- Starts killing pests faster than some other topical medicines
- Usable on cats of most weights and ages
- Less-common chemical means a lower chance of pests being resistant to it
- Only available in a large 6-pack, making it more expensive to test
- May not be as effective on severe infestations
- It may take up to 2 weeks to see if this product continues working
Capstar Flea Tablets Check Price
Capstar’s tablets are one of the better oral treatments currently on the market. It’s safe for kittens as young as four weeks, and the toxicity is so low that even pregnant and nursing cats can have it. The only caveat is that the cat should be at least two pounds.
This product’s most notable feature is that it can be used as often as every day. Most flea treatments require at least a week between doses, but Capstar was specifically designed for frequent use to help kill off particularly bad infestations. It usually begins killing fleas within 6 hours of being consumed.
Notably, this product is odorless, so cats aren’t likely to turn their nose up at it. If you have several cats, be sure to feed it to them individually (rather than mixing it into their food bowl) to be sure they get the right amount – even a safe product like this one can be a problem if they eat it more than once a day.
- Effective as early as 4 weeks
- Can be used daily
- Works on most cats
- Intended for killing fleas, not preventing them, so frequent doses may be needed as long as your house is infected
- Hard to know how often to use if you’re not doing it daily
- You may not need the whole package
Vet’s Best Flea + Tick Yard & Kennel Spray Check Price
This is a little different than our other recommendations – but it’s important. If you only kill the fleas on your cat, it’s easy for them to get infested again. You need to make sure your home is as free of pests as possible, and this spray bottle is suitable for use in and around your home. As a bonus, the primary ingredients – peppermint oil and clove extract – smell great.
This spray kills fleas, flea eggs, and ticks on contact with them. However, it’s only recommended for use on (and around) cats at least 12 weeks old, which is a later start than many of the other products on this list. Each bottle provides adequate cover for up to 4,500 square feet, and it’s appropriate for your yard if you have an outdoor cat.
The formula used for this product does not have Pyrethrin, which is one of the most popular (and therefore most-resisted) chemicals used.
Note if your cat goes further than your yard, this may not be the only product you need to use. You can’t spray everywhere they might roam. It’s better to think of this as a passive defense for your home, though it is safe to use as a direct application if you see fleas on your cat.
- Safe, natural ingredients
- Can protect the inside and outside of your home
- Does not stain surfaces
- Available in several different bottles for ease of use
- Requires regular treatments to keep working
- Does not protect cats over time, only on-use
- Not effective in particularly wet areas
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo With Precor Check Price
If you prefer to bathe your cat, this shampoo is definitely one of the first products to consider. Adams Plus is a comprehensive shampoo – aside from killing fleas and ticks, it has various other extracts and ingredients that help to keep your cat’s coat shiny and beautiful.
More notably, however, this shampoo will continue to protect your cat for about four weeks. That’s comparable to most topical medicines, with the added advantage of cleaning their fur as well. The drawback, of course, is that some cats don’t like baths and won’t allow you to use this on them.
This product is safe for pets 12 weeks and older, which is towards the late end. Pyrethrin is the main anti-flea chemical in this product, so it may not be effective on as many cats as other chemicals are.
- Works for longer than most shampoos
- Kills fleas, ticks, and lice on contact
- Great for cleaning fur
- Contains Pyrethrins, which are resisted fairly regularly
- Requires pets to be older than most other products
- Needs to be used very carefully, or the shampoo could get washed out instead of taking effect