Cat Flea Care
"Cat flea care involves removing fleas and flea eggs from your cat. This involves bathing your cat and then using a preventative such as Revolution. It is important to also clean the environment where your cat lives."
Cats get flea bites when traveling through flea infested areas or from fleas that jump from other animals. Fleas are a problem if the flea is infected and transfers tapeworms to your cat or if your cat is allergic to the flea bites.
Flea allergy from the saliva in the flea causes a reaction that causes your cat to become itchy all over its' body. Scratching itchy areas results in skin infection called pyoderma. Severe reactions can be caused by as little as one flea. The saliva of a flea can contain up to 15 different allergens. Treatment can be difficult and somewhat expensive.
Cat Flea Care Prevention
Prevention is key with a number of cat flea care products available on the market. Do not use products designed for dogs on cats since the grooming behavior of cats causing them to lick topical treatments more than a dog would.
There are four steps to preventing fleas:
1. Make sure the places where your cat lives are flea free.
2. Inspect outdoor ares.
3. Kill the fleas that are on your cat.
4. Make sure that any eggs or developing fleas on your cat are killed as well.
See our cat flea care product guide.
The key to using a flea collar is to make sure that they are fit properly so that your cat can't wiggle out of it and to make sure that your cat can't chew on any end piece that is sticking out.
Collars could lead to injury if the collar gets caught on something and the collar can lose effectiveness if it gets wet. In general, collars can be part of a solution, but should not be the only solution.
Avoid collars that contain the ingredients Amitraz, permethrin, or organophosphates as these can be harmful. With the switch to a safe oral preventative such as Revolution, a flea collar may not be necessary.
Powders and Sprays
These are not recommended since your cat can lick them off and get sick. There are safer, more effective methods of cat flea care available.
If you decide to use this approach, follow the manufacturer directions which tells you not to over spray or soak your cat. These products can be applied to the face by first spraying a cotton ball and then working around eyes and ears. You can also spray a cloth and then apply on the cat. Consider pumps over aerosol since the sound of the can might scare your cat (may sound like another cat).
Flea shampoos are effective at killing and removing fleas from your pet. However, they won't prevent new fleas from getting on your cat as soon as she is returned to an environment where fleas exist. If you take in a cat with fleas, consider a bath with flea shampoo if she has fleas and you are going to be keeping her inside. If you have an outdoor cat, however, you'll need to look at other options.
Topical Flea Treatments (Prescripiton and Nonprescription)
These are oil-based treatments that you apply to the back of your cat's neck (where she can't lick it off). They kill both adult fleas and flea eggs. They also protect against ticks. These treatments are usually highly effective (some brands are more effective than others- vets often recommend Frontline and Frontline Plus the #1 brand).
Other popular brands include Bio Spot One Step, Advantage,and Revolution.
Safe ingredients include permethrin, pyrethrin and fipronil.
DO NOT USE PRODUCTS CONTAINTING PREMETHRINS ON CATS.
If your cat has a severe problem, many veterinarians will prescribe a topical hydrocortisone treatment that is applied directly to the skin. Some cats experience side effects from these types of approaches. An alternative is to use a herbal based topical such as the one made by PetAlive called FleaDerm. It doesn't have the side effects of prescription products and is available over the counter. Consult your veterinarian so that he or she can track your cat's progress using this type of product.
There is a new cat flea care product called Program, which is given orally every month or by injection every six months. It does not kill adult fleas but the eggs laid by adult fleas will not hatch. As long as the cat is not coming in contact with new fleas continually, this is a good way to control fleas both on the cat and in the environment. It is not a good solution for cats who are allergic to flea bites, however, because it does not kill adult fleas and the cat may still be bitten.