Fleas are common problems on cats, even indoor cats, which comes as a surprise to many pet owners because cats generally are able to take better care of themselves than dogs. The cat flea or Ctenocephalides Felis is a parasitic insect that makes the domestic cat its host, ending up causing skin problems. This can turn serious, so to provide relief, you have to find remedies for fleas on cats.
What Are These Cat Fleas?
These are small insects between 1 to 2 mm in length and are usually reddish-brown in color. However, the females may appear larger when they are carrying eggs. The cat flea, like other fleas, often go deep within their host and reside inside the dense hairs, so you may not be able to see them very easily, even if your cat has a pure white coat.
However, you may see these fleas on your carpet or when you are combing the cat. A good way to see them and confirm cat fleas is by picking up the small specks and placing them on a small damp tissue paper. The tiny specks will turn red if they are fleas, because of the blood they have drawn from your cat.
Usually the flea problem is seen mostly in humid and warm environments. Late summer is the peak season. You will have to kill fleas on cats, because the adult fleas won’t willingly leave their host. Once separated from the host, the fleas will die quickly from starvation as they are unable to draw from their host anymore.
Life Cycle of Cat Fleas
To get rid of fleas on cats, it’s important that you have some understanding of their life cycle. There are 4 stages in the life cycle of cat fleas, which is called metamorphosis.
- Adult Flea – These fleas emerge when stimulated by environmental factors like breath, warmth or vibrations of their host. It comes out of the cocoon and begins to suck blood. It begins to lay eggs in 36 to 48 hours after the first meal. The female flea may consume up to 15 times of her body weight in blood every day. The lifespan is between 2 to 3 months.
- Egg – The eggs are very small, whitish in color, and are just .5mm in length. 1 single female flea will usually lay 1 egg every hour. The eggs will hatch in anything between 1 and 10 days, and there will be new fleas on your cat.
- Larvae – They are 6mm in length and look like maggots. They reside deep within the fibers and in crevices to avoid light. They don’t have any eyes or legs at this stage, but have mouth parts through which they can chew.
- Pupae – This is the transition stage from larvae to an adult flea. It takes between 7 and 10 days for the larvae to become a flea. The flea will take a few more days before it will finally emerge from the cocoon.
At any stage, only about 5% are actually the adult fleas. The others are at various stages of growth, as eggs, larvae or pupae. So it’s absolutely vital that you find the best way to get rid of fleas on cats, so you can provide relief to your beloved pet.
How Indoor Cats Can Get These Fleas
Anyone or anything can bring these fleas to your home. They can get attached to a piece of clothing when you are outside and then transfer to your cat. Of course, your cat can also pick up the flea when she is outside.
The flea will soon lay lots of eggs, which is going to hatch soon. Quickly, hundreds of tiny fleas will make your kitty their home, feasting on her blood. Another cycle will begin once these fleas grow to become adults and lay their own eggs.
There is no way your indoor cat can get away from these critters, even after a lot of grooming, which cats do. The problem can spread rapidly and can even be seen on other pets you may have in your home. Cat fleas are sometimes seen even on pet dogs.
How to Find Out If Your Kitty Has Fleas?
Many pet owners never know that their cat has fleas till they see the rampant scratching, which is usually the first sign. Some cats, however, may have a heavy infestation, without being bothered, while others are more sensitive to the saliva deposit from the flea bite. Just a single flea can cause her a lot of scratching and itching.
Here are some common signs of fleas on cats,
- Biting, itching and scratching, particularly around the ears, neck, and the base of her tail.
- Many domestic cats are sensitive to the saliva deposit from the bites. There will often be crusting, especially around the neck and the back.
- You may see flea dropping and eggs on her bedding or coat. The eggs are white in color, while the droppings appear dark red.
Find the best way to kill fleas on cats as soon as you are sure that these are fleas. You should be concerned as these fleas will cause your cat a lot of discomfort. Luckily, there are many effective home remedies for fleas on cats that you can try.
Common Cat Flea Symptoms
Common symptoms include,
- 1. Frantic and Intense Biting Or Scratching the Coat Flea bites will make the fur and skin very itchy. So your pet might start scratching all of a sudden with her paws. She may start chewing her skin to find relief from the itching.
- Excessive Grooming – Cats can turn into nonstop groomers when they have fleas. The grooming will be seen mostly around the base of the tail and the back legs. You will see her licking repeatedly.
- Hair Loss – In fact, the cat may groom herself so much that you will start seeing bald patches on her body, particularly the tail’s base, neck region and the legs.
- Restlessness, Agitation and Edginess – A domestic cat may suddenly begin to behave wildly, shaking her head, rubbing her body and head on the floor, growling, and running all over the room. She is doing them because the itching and biting is too much for her.
- Scab-Like Bumps or Red Skin Lesions – Many domestic cats are extremely sensitive to the flea saliva and biting. Their skin will become inflamed and turn red. The lesions are very itchy and begin to ooze when she chews on them.
- Lethargy and Muscle Loss – If fleas bite away too much blood, then your cat may have anemia. A lot of blood loss may also lead to muscle loss. Your kitty will turn sick as a result and will become lethargic.
- Red Spots in the Bedding of Your Cat – The red spots are flea dirt that has fallen from her fur to the bedding. They turn red when her warm body rubs against the dirt.
- Small Specs on Her Fur – Dark brown in color, these are feces of the fleas. You will see them mostly around the rump and neck areas, but you may see them also on the comb after brushing. Place them on a damp tissue paper, and you will see them turning red.
- Reddish Brown or Black Insects on the Fur – These are your cat fleas. There is a chance that you may see the fleas if the infestation is grave. They are small – the size of a pinhead.
Top Home Remedies for Fleas on Cats
Fleas on cats can be bad because they will cause a lot of discomfort. Just a single flea can quickly lead to hundreds as the insects reproduce rapidly. Your cat will lose a lot of blood and become weak if you don’t find a treatment soon.
Non-Medical Home Remedies
1. Clean Your Home
- Vacuum every day.
- Pay particular attention to the high traffic areas, places where your cat likes to rest frequently.
- Throw away the vacuum bags or clean them often to make sure that the fleas do not stay dormant inside them.
Keeping the home clean is very important and an easy ways in which you can keep the fleas away. Vacuum regularly, more so, if you have carpet. This will kill the eggs, larvae and the adult fleas.
2. Use the Flea Comb
- Clean flea comb – 1
- Warm water – ½ cup
- Use the flea comb gently. Star from the head and come down to the tail’s base.
- Check the comb after each use.
- Remove the eggs, larvae, and fleas you may find by dipping the comb in water.
- You should comb every day till the time there are no more fleas.
Careful combing may remove the adult fleas, larvae and the eggs. You may not have to use any other remedy if you see the problem going with this approach.
3. Give Your Cat a Shower
- A gentle shampoo
- Warm water
- Sink or bath
- Fill the sink or bath with warm water.
- Bring your kitty to the bath. Wet her and then apply the shampoo.
- Rinse thoroughly and let it stay for a few minutes.
- Rinse off.
- Use a clean towel to dry your cat.
- Remove any dead fleas with a flea comb.
- Do this once each week. This will break up the flea’s life cycle.
This home remedy can work, but not for every cat. Many cats don’t like the water all that much, but this is still effective in fighting the fleas. The water will remove the larvae and eggs and drown the adult fleas.
Spray-Based Home Remedies
1. Vinegar Spray
- Distilled white vinegar – 1 cup
- Warm water – 4 cups
- Clean spray bottle – 1 (large)
- Add the vinegar and water to your spray bottle.
- Shake gently to combine.
- Now spray on your cat slowly. It should be a mist-like spray on her body. Avoid the genitals and face.
- Spray once every day till the fleas go away.
The vinegar spray will work very well to kill the adult fleas.
2. Lemon Spray
- Lemon – 1
- Water – 4 cups
- Cut the lemon into quarters.
- Boil the water. Allow it to steep for the night.
- Spray on your cat gently in the morning.
- Pay particular attention at the base of the tail, below her legs, and in her head. However, you should be careful with the eyes.
If your cat cannot tolerate the spray, then you may also rub the juice from an orange or lemon on her fur. But make sure that the juice is freshly squeezed.
3. Herbal Flea Spray
- Clean spray bottle – 1
- Apple cider vinegar (unfiltered) – 2 cups
- Dried organic neem (Indian Lilac) leaf – 1 tablespoon
- Dried organic catnip – 1 tablespoon
- Dried organic lavender – 1 tablespoon
- Dried organic peppermint leaf – 1 tablespoon
- Water – 1 cup
- Aloe Vera gel – 1 tablespoon
- Mason jar – 1
- Add all dried ingredients into the Mason jar.
- Now include the apple cider vinegar and water.
- Shake gently and refrigerate the jar for 1 to 2 weeks to steep. The mixture will be more powerful, the longer it steeps.
- Strain the mixture. Add to your spray bottle.
- Include aloe vera into the bottle.
- Give a gentle shake. Spray on the cat directly.
- Spray more on the irritated areas. Aloe vera is going to soothe the skin.
- Spray once every day till the fleas are all gone.
This herbal spray is an effective and gentle solution for killing the fleas. You will also be able to prevent fleas on cats in the future as well. Though this is a safe remedy for cats above 12 weeks, but remember, many essential oils are not exactly safe for cats.
4. Lavender Spray
- Fresh lavender – 1 bunch
- Clean spray bottle – 1
- Water – 1 cup
- Mason jar – 1
- Place the lavender in the Mason jar.
- Add water and seal your jar.
- Let it stay for the night.
- Strain lavender from the liquid.
- Pour this liquid into your spray bottle.
- Spray this mixture on your kitty.
- Do not wipe off. Allow the mixture to dry on her fur.
- Repeat the process every day till the fleas are all gone.
Lavender will soothe the skin of your cat gently and fight off the fleas quickly. Even the Ohio State University has recommended lavender for controlling cat fleas. A study conducted in South Africa in 2007 also found that diluted lavender performed better than most artificial remedies.
5. Chamomile Tea Spray
- Hot water – 1 to 2 cups
- Chamomile tea – 2 to 3 bags or 2 tablespoons
- Spray bottle
- Add tea to the hot water.
- Allow it to steep for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Strain the leaves once it is cool or remove the tea bags.
- Add tea to your spray bottle.
- Spray directly over your cat. Pay close attention to the areas that are particularly irritated.
- Spray once every day on the affected parts.
Chamomile is a wonderful remedy for soothing the itchy and irritated skin. It is powerful, but is still very gentle and safe, even for kittens. Try with loose chamomile tea because this is stronger, but tea bags will also be effective.
6. Homemade Non-Toxic Spray
- Peppermint oil – 2 tablespoons
- Sunflower oil – 2 tablespoons
- Vinegar – ½ tablespoon
- Lemon juice – ¼ cup
- Water – 3 tablespoons
- Clove oil – 1 tablespoon
- Garlic powder – just a pinch
- Spray bottle
- Pour all the oils in your bowl.
- Add the water.
- Now add the vinegar and then the garlic powder.
- Add to your spray bottle.
- Shake well and spray on your cat, avoiding the eyes.
When you combine all these oils in the right combination along with the other ingredients, you will get a powerful mixture that will work well to fight the flea.
Other Cat Flea Remedies You Can Try At Home
1. Rosemary Flea Dip
- Fresh rosemary – 1 bunch
- Boiling water – 1 pot
- Warm water
- Sink or bath
- Add rosemary into the boiling water. Let it boil for 3 minutes.
- Let it cool down.
- Now add this to the bath of warm water.
- Slowly dip your kitty into this mixture. Sit her for 2 to 4 minutes.
- Rinse off.
- Repeat this process once daily till you see all the fleas are gone.
Chemical flea dips are often caustic. A natural solution like this rosemary dip will always work better in fighting off the fleas and their eggs. You may also pour the water over your cat if you cannot dip her into the mixture. But make sure that the water is comfortable enough.
2. Dishwashing Liquid
- Dishwashing liquid – 3 to 4 drops
- Warm bathing water
- Add the drops of dishwashing liquid into the warm water.
- Now wash your kitty.
- Rinse off quickly.
The dishwashing liquid will work as a powerful repellant for the cat flea. You will be able to get rid of the problem naturally and quickly. Make sure to rinse off thoroughly and quickly, otherwise your cat’s skin could be irritated.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar – 1 tablespoon
- Water for bath
- Add a spoonful to the bath water of your cat and give her a shower.
- Rinse off with a clean and dry towel.
Fleas won’t like the acidic apple cider vinegar one bit. You may also spray it on her body if you cannot give her a bath. But make sure to dilute it before spraying.
4. Stash Earl Grey Tea
- Stash Earl Grey Tea – 2 bags
- Warm water
- Place the tea bags in warm water.
- Steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
You can try to make your cat drink this natural tea. If it is difficult, you may scatter the tea on your carpeting after tearing the bags open. This will also work, but make sure to vacuum the carpet after a couple of days.
Killing Cat Fleas – Essential Dos and Don’ts
- Find a remedy and start it early before the infestation becomes worse. This will then make it easier for you to eradicate the fleas.
- Clean the floor and walls of your home every day. Keep the yard watered. Mow the lawn regularly. You will reduce the risk of flea infestation by keeping it clean.
- Bath and comb the cat regularly. Check for fleas after each bath.
- Wash clothing with hot water.
- Consult a veterinary doctor.
- Don’t apply topical treatments if your cat is pregnant.
- Restrain the use of essential oil and citrus sprays.
- Don’t allow your cat to eat garlic.
- Avoid using topical treatments that are meant for dogs.
Fleas on cats are quite a common problem, but this is something you cannot ignore. Even domestic cats that are looked after well and do a lot of self-grooming can have these fleas. They spread easily, and reproduce quickly, so your cat can quickly have an entire colony on her body, unless you take quick action.
There are many effective home remedies for fleas on cats you can choose from. Select from the ones mentioned here, because these remedies are all safe and effective, for both adult cats and kittens. Apply the remedy correctly and the flea should go away.