A good number of cats never get fleas – usually indoor cats or cats with limited outdoor exposure. But a lot of cats are at risk of getting fleas and if your cat gets them they can make life uncomfortable for your cat and even result in you getting bitten.
Some parasites that affect cats can be transferred through fleas so having fleas can be actually hazardous to your cat’s health as well as being a source of discomfort.
Your cat is at a higher risk if you let your cat out for any period of time in a neighbourhood with a high density of other cats or if your cat lives in a rural setting with long grasses and hedgerows.
You can identify cat fleas and cats with fleas relatively easily. A cat with fleas will scratch excessively, particularly around areas fleas like to congregate – the ears, tail, and groin areas. A telltale sign is if when you part the cat’s fur you are able to spot the faeces of the flea. Parting the fur, you may also see movement – a telltale sign of flea infestation.
If your cat is at risk you need to consider effective treatment and precautions. In this day and age, there are loads of successful chemical treatments for fleas that can snuff out an infestation fast. The problem is that some of these chemicals are non to wholesome – some even come with warnings like “keep away from children” “wash hands after use”. Clearly, this is powerful stuff, but if it is that strong can it really be that good for kitty?
It is this question that leads us owners to check out other avenues. Surely there must be natural alternatives that maybe even the chemical options are based on, that are better for our cats and the world at large? Well, there is, and on the whole none of them require you to keep them away from children! Here is a rundown of 18 different ways you can treat kitty to repel or kill fleas :
1. Use A Flea Comb Regularly
This is your number one tactic in the fight against fleas. To be successful you have to comb kitty regularly even if they do not exhibit signs of fleas.
The comb is essentially a mechanical method of stripping fleas and their eggs off the cat’s fur so the more regular you comb the better the result – plus your cat will probably appreciate the attention once they are used to the comb.
Many people advise that you keep a dish of soapy water nearby to drop the fleas/eggs in so they drown. Water alone is not enough. The soap reduces surface tension so the flea sinks. Check this out.
Additionally, once you have brushed your cat’s fur use a vacuum on the surrounding area to pick up and fleas or eggs you might not have spotted. Empty the vacuum regularly or see more tactics below to maximise your efforts in the war on fleas!
This combing tactic can be supercharged with additional tactics and add-ons so carry on reading below.
2. Bathe Your Cat Regularly
Seriously, has this dude never owned a cat? Bathe a cat – utter foolish madness unless you want your face clawed off! Granted not all cats will endure a bath but for those that will the promised land of flea free freedom lies this way…
You will delight at the sight of fleas rushing to higher ground as you bathe your cat. Seriously wash them off and drown the sons of ****. Bathing the cat with fleas makes you feel like you are taking back control and winning the war when them suckers run.
3. Bathe Your Cat With Ordinary Dish Soap
Hell, if you’re going to get your face bitten off you may as well go the whole mile and supercharge that flea killing experience.
Get you some ordinary dish soap in the tub and explode them flea exoskeleton as they struggle in the waves of doom. Ok, I got carried away. They don’t explode..but the addition of dish soap to the water seems to drastically subdue the fleas long enough that you can safely ditch them down the drain in the knowledge that by the time they come round from the experience they are rehomed in the sewer.
If you wash your cat outdoors in a tub then don’t just tip the wastewater on the garden when finished – the fleas are not drowned they are in stasis and will come round again. Next time your pet is in the yard the suitably washed and clean fleas are likely to hop right back on again!
4. Use A Pet Shampoo With Natural Flea Repellents
You can get shampoos that contain natural flea repellents online from quite a number of suppliers. Used in conjunction with the combing and bathing outlined above the shampoo will leave your pet smelling good to you but appallingly repellent to fleas!
The shampoos to look out for are those with low concentrations of cedar, lavender, eucalyptus or citrus oils included. These are natural flea repellents that can help keep you cat invisible to fleas. Now the more proactive of you should not just go buy some essential oils and started banging out mixtures of your own.
Many of these natural insecticides are pretty dangerous to cats unless concentrations are really low. This is because a cat’s liver can’t cope with some of these toxins like a human or dog might be able to as they are missing some critical enzymes. You can read more here. Stick with using store formulated shampoos that have been tested for safety.
5. Make/Buy A Natural Flea Collar/Bandana
You could make a natural flea collar from a cotton bandana or collar dosed up with essential oils that are known to have a repelling effect on fleas.
The main flea repelling essential oils are cedar, lavender, geranium, eucalyptus and citrus based oils. Of course, as we highlighted, some of these oils are dangerous to cats if ingested in sufficient doses – but we are not recommending you douse your cat in these essential oils.
Ideally, you want to use a low concentration oil dropped onto a cotton collar – avoid contact on the skin or putting the oil anywhere near kitty’s mouth.
If you want to be properly safe about this and love the idea of a natural flea collar then don’t mess with oils – simply buy one from a reputable brand. There are plenty online. They all tend to use the same natural oils but are able to boast of 6-8 month protection.
Beware though, these ingredients might be natural but they can be harmful – often cats can have an allergic reaction if the ingredients are in the wrong doses for them. The reaction usually takes the form of skin irritation around the collar area that clears after stopping use.
Still, a collar in conjunction with bathing, shampooing and combing should have them fleas on the run!
6. Spray or Comb Lemon Juice Into The Fur
Citric acid is the active ingredient here that will repel and kill off fleas. The safest way to get a dose without overdoing it is to take a few cut up lemons, boil in water, then steep for a few hours. Drain off the resulting liquid into a sprayer or dish and apply to the fur.
You can either spray directly on – being careful to avoid eyes or as part of your combing ritual you can dip the comb in the liquid and brush through the fur.
You can use this solution as often as you need but keep a sharp eye out for any signs of irritation or skin reaction from your cat. If you see anything untoward stop treatment.
You can also use the same lemon liquid added to a wash to clear pet bedding of fleas, larvae and eggs.
7. Spray or Comb Cedar Oil Into The Fur
Cedar oil is one of the essential oils that are actually non-toxic to cats but despised by fleas. They simply don’t like the smell – trouble is kitty might be none too fond of the aroma either. However, if your cat doesn’t seem put out by the odour then there are a number of cedar options available.
You could spray the cedar oil directly on your cat’s fur. It should act as a repellent to the fleas. Alternatively, you could comb the oil into the fur when you are generally flea combing. A third method of utilising cedar oil which we have touched on would be to put the cedar oil on a cotton collar as a homemade natural flea collar.
If your cat just can’t abide the stuff your last option using cedar might be to use cedar chips sprinkled in the garden and around cat bedding as a deterrent to the little blighters.
Many owners report cedar oils and shampoos to be highly effective and actually quite pleasant smelling……if you can get kitty to go along with your plan!
8. Lavender Spray
Lavender is almost as effective at killing off fleas as the commercial chemical flea killers. The active ingredient is linalool and it is found to be highly toxic to the cat flea at all stages in its life cycle – good news! The bad news is that high concentrations of lavender oil can poison your cat – boo.
To put all that into context: Linalool generally makes up 50% of lavender oil and said lavender oil will poison your cat. But, linalool in a 1% concentration in a dip will strip a cat of fleas! Additionally treating the carpet with a 1-5% spray will prevent the emergence of fleas by killing them off in all life stages.
So how to harness this power without poisoning the cat? What you do is get some real lavender, avoid oil, and steep the real lavender overnight in water. The next day you remove the lavender plant and use the water as a dip, spray or to comb into your cat’s fur. This way you keep concentrations minimal whilst getting the benefits of the linalool. You could use this spray daily if necessary.
By all means water down the oil and spray on furniture and fabrics to remove/kill fleas in the home but make sure your cat doesn’t ingest the high concentration gear.
9. Chamomile Spray
Fleas don’t like chamomile, they find it repelling. This means you can use some standard, widely available tea bags to help sort out a potential flea problem!
The first thing to do is to leave some chamomile tea bags around your cat’s bedding. This will deter fleas.
The second thing to do is boil up a cup of tea! Leave the tea to go cold and then spray or apply with a brush to your cat’s coat and any areas where your cat may be itching and scratching.
The effect is two-fold. Firstly the chamomile will repel the fleas and secondly, the tea will help soothe itching bites and skin.
You can also use chamomile in its natural state. Like lavender, take a few dried flowers and steep them in a cup of water for a few hours. Remove the flowers and use the water in a spray or on a brush to comb into the fur.
You can apply camomile tea on a daily basis without harming your cat and the fleas will just hate it!
10. Oregano Oil
Oregano has a natural ingredient called carvacrol that makes a very effective flea repellant. The problem is that oregano contains phenols that are also very bad for your cat. As a result, you can’t use concentrated oregano oil liberally on your cat – you need to seriously reduce concentration.
A favoured method of using oregano oil is to mix the oil with olive oil on a basis of three drops of olive oil to one of oregano. The resulting mixture can then be applied with a cotton ball to areas of the cat that fleas like to congregate on but that is also out of reach of the cat. The usual areas are on the backs of the ears, base of the tail, neck and stomach.
A secondary method of using oregano oil might be to use the oil on a homemade flea collar. Adding a low concentration dose of oregano to a cotton collar along with other low concentration oils can make a collar that will keep fleas at bay!
If you do use oregano to treat fleas keep a sharp lookout for any negative effects and stop treatment immediately if your cat shows signs of irritation, fur loss or change in demeanour.
11. Geranium Oil
As with oregano oil, too much geranium oil can be highly toxic to your cat. However, geranium oil is a flea killer and soon gets them on the run. Some people recommend adding four drops of geranium oil to a cup of water to make a spray that can effectively repel fleas.
As with oregano, diluting and adding to a homemade flea collar is an option with the added benefit that geranium oil makes a great tick repellant. Alternatively, if you are able to get your cat bathed you can add a couple of drops of the oil to the water as you go for a final rinse. This is often enough to act as a repellent for a few days.
Rosemary is another herb that is fundamentally great for fighting and warding off fleas.
Rosemary is somewhat safer for cats than some of the other essential oils – particularly as you get the dried herb and steep it like with lemon, lavender or chamomile or get fresh and boil it up in water for 30 minutes.
The resulting rosemary water can be used as a homemade spray for bedding and furniture or to be applied directly to the cat’s coat.
If all that sounds like too much work you can just buy rosemary flea sprays online…….Acts as a great natural repellant and will kill eggs, larvae and adult fleas as well as killing ticks and mosquitos.
Some users report that rosemary water has a very fast effect soon bringing scratching cats to comfort as flea activity drops off.
13. Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice is well known to be a natural anti astringent and antiseptic for humans but it is also a great natural flea repellent for cats. Mixing the juice with some cayenne pepper makes a fantastic all natural flea repellent that is non-toxic to cats.
The juice by itself or with the pepper can be spritzed or combed onto the fur to act as a repellent. You can add the juice to a bath to rinse your cat in providing a nourishing balm with repellent qualities to the cat’s coat. If your cat already has bites the aloe vera juice will calm itching and defend open skin wounds from infection.
However, just because the juice is non-toxic doesn’t mean the whole plant is safe. The “milk” that is released when the plant is broken is highly toxic so be sure to only use the clear juice.
Along with rosemary and cedarwood, catnip is harmless to cats but actually a very good flea repellent! What makes this particularly pleasing is unlike many items on the list a high proportion of cats actually love this stuff.
If your cat loves this stuff you will probably have noticed the euphoria the catnip brings out in your kitty. If your cat is in unaffected it just doesn’t notice anything.
You can use catnip in a number of ways with regards to fleas :
You can grow catnip in your yard where it will repel fleas from your yard as they just hate the smell of the stuff (the odor is just a nice minty aroma).
Secondly, you can grab and cut up catnip leaves and rub them/deposit them over your cat’s bedding to repel fleas and get them to move on.
Thirdly you can brush your cat down with the stuff and this will act as a repellent to the fleas.
The fourth option is to get some catnip oil and add it to a homemade flea collar as a deterrent. You can also put some oil on scratch posts to deter fleas and get some oil on your cat in an unobtrusive manner.
If you decide to grow catnip in your yard so you have a handy supply, just remember you might end up attracting local cats into your yard and kicking off a turf war…
15. Neem Oil
Out of everything on this list, neem oil is probably the standout just because you might never have heard of it! All the others and ones to follow are generally household or readily available items. Neem oil ain’t. That is because this stuff comes from trees only found in places in south-east Asia like India, Burma and Sri Lanka.
Neem oil comes from the neem tree. You can read a load about it here. To paraphrase and quickly get to the point this stuff is safe for cats, should be used in a low concentration (about 1% for shampoos and sprays) and works because it contains a powerful natural insecticide called azadirachtin.
Azadirachtin works to repel and kill mosquitoes, fleas and biting midges. Some of the other active ingredients in neem oil work to reduce itching and soothe inflamed skin. Neem oil can be bought online and you can use it in a spray, shampoo, applied to bedding or combed into cat fur or on a homemade natural flea collar. There is one drawback – this stuff stinks. Bad. But if you can live with it it is touted to be a miracle cure.
Always dilute, concentrated neem oil can cause irritation. If you put too much on your cat you might expect to see your pet vomit, convulse, become lethargic or suffer respiratory distress – you have been warned, safe until you get silly with it!
16. White or apple cider Vinegar
Vinegar has a huge range of uses around the house from cleaning, cooking and health standpoints but did you know that a good old dose of vinegar can also be effective against cat fleas?
Both white vinegar and the more fashionable apple cider vinegar can be used against fleas due to the acidity of the acetic acid found in the vinegar.
These vinegars destroy flea eggs and the aroma and taste repel adult fleas.
When applied topically the fleas will literally jump off your cat and if you follow up with a flea comb you will find you kill off loads of fleas – with these fleas you should dispose down the sink so that if they revive they are rehomed away from your pet, house or yard.
You can use either type of vinegar but cats may prefer apple cider vinegar due to the taste and aroma.
The best way to use the vinegar is to apply neat to your cat’s coat – problem is that most cats won’t allow this. If your cat just won’t go there then water down the vinegar so you have a 50:50 solution with water or even lemon juice. Even at this concentration, the vinegar will effectively repel and knockout the fleas.
You should ideally spray your cat and let the solution dry naturally. You should also treat your house with the same spray. Your cat and house will smell of vinegar initially but this will dissipate as the solution evaporates.
If you can bathe your cat then you can also use the vinegar in the bath water. This will work as a repellent for a few days – but have plan b lined up ready to swing into action.
Additionally, if you want to go the full mile you can wash/soak clothing and bedding in a vinegar solution to effectively kill flea eggs and repel fleas.
17. Coconut Oil
These days coconut oil is widely available in most markets. If you struggle to find it locally you can pick up coconut oil very cheaply online. It is lauded for its health benefits in humans but did you know it is also a great cat flea killer?
Coconut oil has powerful antiparasitic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory abilities due to the lauric acid found in the oil and the high-fat content of the oil that suffocates fleas. Using coconut oil on your cat will soothe irritated skin, kill off fleas and is safe for cats – indeed by grooming after the oil has been topically applied to their coats they may get other health benefits from the oil.
To treat a cat with fleas bath the cat and then apply coconut oil to the skin and fur. Leave in place for a few hours and then rinse away watching the dead fleas wash out – in fact, the cat will most likely remove the oil after a few hours by licking but the oil will still do the job.
18. Olive Oil
Olive oil can, surprisingly, be a very effective flea killer. As with coconut oil, you simply rub the olive oil into the fur and skin of your infested cat and let the oil get to work.
Olive oil does not contain lauric acid, but it is thought that the high-fat content suffocates fleas and there may be other natural insecticides within the olive oil that naturally deal with the fleas.
Leave the oil for a few hours and then rinse it off or comb it out if your cat if it hasn’t groomed the oil off already!
Olive oil is often used to reduce the concentration of essential oils such as lavender, oregano or geranium but can work very effectively on its own. The oil is non-toxic to cats so you can use without fear. This is particularly useful if you want to treat a kitten or don’t want to chance essential oils.
The real beauty of olive oil is that it is cheap, abundant and available just about everywhere.
Clearing fleas off your pet is one thing but unless you eradicate fleas and eggs from your surroundings your poor cat is just going to get re-infested again.
Once you have brought a bit of comfort to your cat by removing the fleas you have to turn your attention to your home. Many of the solutions listed above, particularly the sprays, can be used to rid your house and home of fleas.
Here are a few more tips to prevent fleas from becoming a problem in your home or re-infesting your cat:
1. Vacuum Regularly
You need to catch the fleas that have fallen or jumped off your cat and you need to collect up any eggs before they hatch and cause a problem. Regular vacuuming is the best weapon in your arsenal.
Aim to vacuum several times a week minimum if you are the victim of an infestation. If your vacuum features a bag add some high concentration rosemary oil, lavender, oregano or geranium oil (don’t use full concentration on your cat!).
Either with or without a bag empty the vacuum after every clean up making sure to dispose of the contents as far away from your house and yard as possible.
Make sure to vacuum up after every combing session on your cat.
2. Salt/Baking Soda Before A Vacuum.
If you can, spread salt or baking soda across carpets or floors that you plan to vacuum that you think might be contaminated by fleas. The salt and baking soda desiccate the eggs and fleas very quickly on contact – meaning they are dead. This tactic just helps your vacuuming efforts.
Consider the climate – if you are in a humid climate spreading salt might cause problems for your carpet. Salt, humidity and carpet equals mildew.
3. Spray Soft Furnishings
Carpets, curtains and sofas might all harbour fleas if your cat is infested. Get a lemon spray or lavender spray on the job as soon as possible. Citronella or linalool will make short work of them critters and you don’t have to worry about concentrations as you are not going directly on your cat.
Lavender is an absolute beast on fleas and it doesn’t smell so bad…
4. Regularly wash Pet Bedding
If your cat has fleas the chances are that the bedding has the second highest concentration. We covered a number of ways to treat bedding but a good soak in lemon water should knock out unwelcome guests here.
Just remember to dispose of the wastewater down the drain. Fleas don’t drown as such they just go into stasis and can re-emerge from a death-like state hours after being submerged. Make sure they are down the drain and not spread over the yard when you ditch the water…
5. Use Cedar Oil
This is a cracker! Every room that might be exposed to fleas you treat with cedar oil and make the room an insect-free zone.
How do you do this? Real simple – get some cedar oil and good old fashioned brown paper. Take a little 3 inch square of the paper and apply three decent drops of full power cedar oil to the paper. Put the paper in a corner of the room and leave it there. Repeat in every room that might be exposed to fleas.
The effect – no more insect life after a short period, they run for the hills. Use in conjunction with vacuuming and lemon/lavender sprays to combat an infestation and win the war.
6. Limit Kitty’s Outdoor World
Unfortunately, if your cat has fleas one of the best ways to fight the infestation is to curtail kitty’s outdoor activity. Most likely the fleas are from long grasses, garden detritus, other cats and exposure to vegetation that harbours eggs.
Whilst you are fighting an infestation reducing exposure to causes whilst you get on top of the situation is one of the most effective methods of bringing the infestation to an end.
If your cat is fraternising with a flea-infested friend then no amount of effort is going to really help to reduce your problem accepting limiting exposure to the other cat or treating the other cat as well!
Harsh but fair – limit exposure to the outdoors whilst your overpower the problem.
7. Flea Free Yard
You are limiting your cat’s outdoor life in an effort to curtail a flea problem. Next thing you can do to at least give your cat some outdoor space, is deal with your yard.
You need to junk the dead leaves and rake up rotting dead material. You want to keep the grass mowed short and, if necessary prune back shrubs so that your cat doesn’t brush past inadvertently catching eggs off leaves.
That’s the easy stuff – if you want to go make more permanent changes to make your garden a flea-free zone you need to start planting.
Plant lavender, rosemary, oregano and fennel to make your whole garden a flea-free zone – you’ll also be growing your own supplies that you can convert into spray’s if you get a flea situation in the future.
Don’t forget to get rid of vacuum contents well away from the yard. Don’t just vacuum and deposit in a trash can in the yard or the fleas will find a way back in.