Choosing the Purrrfect Flea Treatment for Cats Title

Photo Credit: Tristan Bowersox via Flickr

Fleas might be small, but they can cause some big problems. They are a nuisance that can cause cats itching and irritation, transmit tapeworms if swallowed, and left unchecked can even result in anemia. While fleas prefer warmer mammals, they are often willing to take a bite out of humans as well. If there is any chance that your cat may encounter fleas, it’s time to find the purrrfect flea treatment for cats.

Your Most Important Resource

Your first line of defense against fleas should be your veterinarian. It can be really complicated to find just the right flea treatment for cats (which you will see by the end of this post). Cats are very sensitive to oils and pesticides. If you cat already has fleas, it will be important to put together a plan to not only treat the cat, but your home, your vehicle, and your property as well. Each element of the plan requires different types of flea treatments. Your veterinarian can help you find all of the right products that will eliminate the fleas without eliminating your cat. It is worth every penny that you will pay for the office visit to get the right advice.

The Big Don’t in Flea Treatment for Cats

DO NOT, under any circumstances treat a cat with a product that is meant for dogs. Ever. Do not make the mistake of thinking that giving a cat a small dose of dog flea treatments will be okay. Be sure to read the package to make sure that the product you have chosen to use on your cat is intended for use with cats. Many cats have died after being treated with flea products that were intended for dogs. These products contain ingredients that are highly toxic to cats.

Always read the packaging and ingredient labels on a flea treatment for cats before using it. DO NOT give a cat a flea treatment that contains pyrethrins or pyrethroids. These are often found in pesticides and in flea products intended for dogs so you will have to check. Pyrethrins are pesticides derived from the flower of a pyrethrum plant (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium). Pyrethroids are synthetic versions of the pyrethins that have better sustainability in sunlight. According to the EPA, pyrethoids include the following:

Flea Treatments for Cats - Pyrethrum

Pyrethrum Flower Photo Credit: Amanda Slater via Flickr

  • Allethrin stereoisomers
  • Bifenthrin
  • Beta-Cyfluthrin
  • Cyfluthrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Cyphenothrin
  • Deltamethrin
  • Esfenvalerate
  • Fenpropathrin
  • Tau-Fluvalinate
  • Lambda-Cyhalothrin
  • Gamma Cyhalothrin
  • Imiprothrin
  • 1RS cis-Permethrin
  • Permethrin
  • Prallethrin
  • Resmethrin
  • Sumithrin (d-phenothrin)
  • Tefluthrin
  • Tetramethrin
  • Tralomethrin
  • Zeta-Cypermethrin

If your cat ingests pyrethrins or pyrethroids or absorbs them through their skin, the results can be deadly. PetMD says that symptoms include “muscle tremors, incoordination, seizures, hypothermia, and death within hours if not treated.” Upon noticing any unusual symptoms after using a flea treatment for cats, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian immediately.

Natural Vs. Chemical

Flea treatments for cats - Lavender Farms 07072013 042 - Copy

Lavender oil is helpful in preventing fleas. Photo Credit: Susan Rose via Flickr

Many cat owners are growing concerned about using any kind of chemical on their cat. The concern is understandable (see above). If you choose to use a holistic flea treatment for cats, be sure to include your holistic veterinarian in on your plans. Essential oils, vitamins, and other natural flea remedies can be very effective, but only if used properly and in proper doses. Cats can be very sensitive to these products too! Your holistic veterinarian can help you tailor a holistic flea treatment for cats that will be specific to your cat’s needs.

Be very careful about purchasing an over-the-counter flea treatment for cats that claims to be natural. There are plenty of wacky products out there that may be toxic for your cat even if they are labeled for cats (like products containing tea tree oil). It is important to note that just because something is found in nature, doesn’t make it safe to use. Arsenic can found naturally in fish, shellfish, and soil; Cyanide can be found naturally in apple seeds and peach pits. These are still extremely deadly substances even though the are found in nature.

There are a number of veterinarians and pesticide professionals that chemical flea treatments for cats are the only way to go. Even these professionals warn against using over-the-counter flea treatments for cats because of the lack of regulation on these products. They also feel that natural products can not eliminate fleas effectively. If you choose a chemical flea treatment, be sure to follow your veterinarian’s and the manufacturer’s instructions.

Do Your Research

Reading up on your chosen flea treatment for cats is crucial. Many legitimate flea prevention products have a wealth of information about the product listed on the company’s website.  Looking up 3rd party reviews of the product is very helpful too. Between the product information from the company and your veterinarian’s advice, you need to find out the following information:

  • Which stages of the flea life cycle are affected by this flea treatment for cats?
  • Does this product also prevent/eliminate other parasites like ticks, mites, or mosquito?
  • Is this product for use on your cat, on your home, on or vehicle interior, or in your yard?
  • How will the use of this product affect other pets, children, or yourself when it is applied properly? Does it need to dry before anyone can touch it?
  • What is the proper method for using this product? Internally with your cat? Externally with your cat? In the yard? Sprayed? Sprinkled? Applied with an eye dropper?
  • What is the proper amount of the product to be used in your situation? Does it need to be diluted or mixed with something else?
  • How long will the product be effective once applied? How often can it be reapplied effectively?
  • What cautions or warnings are there with this flea treatment for cats? How will you know if it is making your cat sick?
  • What will be the sign that you have eliminated your flea problem and can discontinue use of the product?

What do you do to keep your kitties flea free?

Are fleas a problem for your cats? Consider these important tips before you use any flea treatment.

No fleas please!

Sources and Digging Deeper

These Natural Flea-Busters Help Your Pet Enjoy Summer More… -Healthy Pets at Mercola

Spot-On Flea and Tick Products: Never Ever Apply This to Your Cats (Not Even a Drop)… Can Kill Within Hours – Healthy Pet at Mercola

Flea Control and Prevention – Drs Foster and Smith

Fleas and flea control in cats – International Cat Care

Types of Flea & Tick Control Products -PetMD

Flea Control in Cats -VCA Animal Hospitals

Fleas – ASPCA

Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning in Cats – PetMD

Pyrethroids and Pyrethrins – EPA