Fleas are nasty little critters that cause your pet to suffer. Since parasite infestations have been a plight to pets since the dawn of time, humans have found several effective home remedies for fleas on cats. The most efficient methods involve bathing with dish soap or flea shampoo. However, for those that despise getting wet, we offer home remedies for fleas on cats without bathing, like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for example.
If your cat has a flea infestation keep reading for a full explanation of what you can do at home to help. But, before we dive into home remedies for a flea infestation, let's first break down what it is, how the symptoms may affect your furry friend, and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.
What Is A Flea Infestation?
Fleas are tiny parasitic insects that survive by consuming the blood of their host. Gross right? Just hearing the word “flea” can make you itch. Truthfully, there are many reasons why your cat may itch, it can stem from cat anxiety to fleas and more. So, how can you tell if the scratch is from a flea infestation or something else? You need to look for signs of course.
It is hard to really know when a flea problem turns into an infestation. If an owner sees 5 fleas, that means there are probably many many more hidden. While the are a couple thousand species of fleas, the most commonly seen on both cats and dogs is Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea)
While cat fleas don’t enjoy living on humans, they may still infest your scalp and bite your skin. They much rather live on your pet though. A flea’s main purpose in nature is to reproduce to make more fleas by biting (ingesting a blood meal) from animals, even rodents. If your cat is a hunter, the risk of them catching fleas in much higher than an indoor cat. Since fleas can move around quickly and travel anywhere even indoor cats develop flea infestations.
What are the Signs of a Flea Infestation?
Fleas typically don’t grow larger than a pencil point and can range in color from reddish to brown to black. Their bodies are flat, which allows them to move expertly through an animal’s haircoat. They are known to produce rapidly; a mature female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day!!! Because these tiny bugs cannot fly, they get around by jumping from one host to another.
A full-blown infestation usually means that there are dozens of fleas afflicting your cat. Signs of an infestation are incessant scratching and biting at the hair and skin, sores and red marks, and dark specs (flea excrement) on your cat that aren’t moving. Owners should be cautious because fleas can spread from their pets onto them.
How Do Cats Get Fleas?
There are many ways for a cat to get fleas. The most common cause is coming into contact with fleas or flea eggs outdoors. Even indoor cats go outside sometimes because, after all, it's healthy to find different ways to exercise and play with your cat.
Whether it be the 30 second trip from the home to the car, at the vet's office, or just from peering out an open window, that is more than enough time for a cat to catch fleas. Fleas can even weasel their way through window screens and climb through the cracks under a closed window sill. One or two fleas can multiply and turn into dozens very quickly.
Outdoors cats often come into contact with other animals that carry flea eggs. Be cautious, especially if your cat is a hunter!. Other stray pets outside may also rub against your outdoor cat and transfer the infestation. One second of contact with another animal can result in the transference of fleas.
How Do Indoor Cats Get Fleas?
Many owners think that inside cats don't get fleas, but that simply isn't true. Pets can transfer fleas between each other, so if someone else brings their pet into your home, it can result in your cat becoming infected too.
Flea eggs also may be deep in the crevices of your home. Carpets, rugs, and towels can host these eggs. Fleas can survive for over 3 months without a host. That means moving into a new home or apartment that was not fully treated for fleas can result in an infestation on your cat. Female fleas cannot lay eggs until after they start feasting on blood, but then they will start to lay eggs within a single day.
Symptoms Of Fleas In Cats
If your cat has fleas, it will be obvious. These little parasites are annoying and will irritate your furry friend to the point of utter frustration. The most typical signs of a flea infestation are:
- Incessant scratching of the ears, head, and body
- Continuous chewing and biting of their body
- Brown or red crust in tiny specs
- The loss of fur
- Red swollen sores
- Black "Flea dirt" which are flea feces
One thing for cat owners to keep in mind is that as mentioned earlier some of these symptoms can develop from other conditions not involving fleas. The most specific signs to look for that coincide with a flea infestation are the tiny brown or red specks and the black flea dirt. Of course, if you see the fleas themselves you know your cat's got them.
If your cat is in pain from a flea infestation you may want to read this next: What Can I Give My Cat For Pain Relief?
Home Remedies for Fleas on Cats
Since flea infestations have been a plague to pet owners for as long as there have been pets, there are several amazing home remedies to alleviate the infestation of cat fleas.
There's a reason that animal activists like to use dish soap to clean animals. It is surprisingly effective when it comes to trapping and killing fleas. Owners can wet their cat's fur with a little bit of water (we recommend a spray bottle or bathing ) and then apply conservative amounts of dish soap to the fur.
Lather it up nicely then rinse. If you are looking to de-flea your home, Owners can also fill a small bowl with warm water and dish soap. Place the bowl near a source of light and sit back and relax while fleas that are drawn to the light end up getting trapped in the soapy water.
Your pet store sells several flea shampoos that you can use to bathe your cat and kill off the insects. Make sure the products you are buying are organic and well known. Stray away from products that do not have reviews or try to hide their labels. Be sure to use only products specifically labeled for cats, if it doesn’t list that it is safe to use on cats, don’t use it.
Home Remedies for Fleas on Cats (Without Bathing)
We understand that many cats hate getting baths (if not all). Below are several methods that do not require you to bathe your pet, although they may still get a little wet.
You can find a flea comb at your local pet supply store. These are fine tooth combs specifically made to “comb out” fleas from a cat or dog’s fur. Flea combs will not be able to kill the eggs but they help to limit the number of adult fleas thus decreasing the total population.
Whether you choose a bathing remedy or not, a good thorough flea combing is definitely a place to start when confronting a flea infestation on your cat. It is recommended that you use a cup of soapy water to dip the comb in after each pass. This will trap and kill any fleas you catch with the comb. Without this, they can jump on you, your cat, or your carpet.
The most well-known killer of fleas is citric acid. Because of this, lemon juice is the best home remedy for flea infestations. You can go purchase lemon juice and place it in a spray bottle, or boil two sliced open lemons for an hour to create your own.
Make sure to avoid your cat's eyes when applying the lemon juice to their fur. We understand that a spray bottle full of liquid is probably your cat's worst enemy... so many owners simply dip a comb into lemon juice and then apply it that way. This method can be repeated daily until the flea infestation is gone.
Landscapers and gardeners often praise Cedar wood shavings for their ability to dispel insects. To be fair, your cat probably won't enjoy the smell of them either. You can apply Cedarwood essential oil to your cat's fur (organic products are not toxic for felines) and also place Cedar wood shavings in their resting areas and around the house.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Much like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar is a great home remedy for flea infestation. You can put it in a spray bottle, massage it in with your fingers, or dip a comb in it and apply it that way.
Organic Flea Spray
Pet stores sell various flea sprays that are effective in getting rid of these pests. Make sure the product is organic because you don't want to expose your cat to chemicals that are unnecessary for this ailment.
While you should not put baking soda in your cat’s fur, spreading it around their bedding and in the carpets is an effective way to de-flea your home. You don’t want an infestation to come back after spending time and money getting rid of them. Baking soda acts as a drying agent (desiccant) and will limit the viability of flea eggs and larvae. Cats cannot eat baking soda, so make sure not to douse the place, a simple peppering will do.
You may need a visit to the vet if the remedies are not helping within a day or so. Many cats will develop secondary skin infections and some flea infestations can be quite severe. Your veterinarian will have flea preventatives that can be very safe and effective as well.
How To Prevent Fleas On Cats
The most effective way to prevent flea on cats is to apply monthly anti-flea treatments. These can be found at most pet stores. Owners should NEVER use dog anti-flea products on their cats. Ingredients that are safe for dogs may be deadly to cats.
Additionally, there are many things you can do around the house to keep fleas outside where they belong. This will help stop fleas in their tracks before they can hitch a ride on your cat. Periodically peppering your carpet and rugs with baking soda will also help keep the pests away. Shake out and "punch" your furniture and clean your home regularly to ensure that fleas do not get comfortable or lay eggs. A dirty home will be inviting to these pests.
How To Help Soothe Cat Flea Symptoms
Watching your pet suffer is painful. Although we have offered some home remedies for fleas on cats, it's also helpful for owners to have some complimentary soothing methods on hand. In this way, you can both kill the fleas and give your cat some relief while the process is ongoing.
This medication is often used for pets that are suffering from allergies themselves. Since fleas bites frequently cause itchy allergic reactions, many owners have found solace in giving their feline some Benadryl. The average Benadryl dosage for cats 1 milligram per pound of body weight. Depending on the ailment, Benadryl can be administered up to three times a day. Always speak with your vet before giving your pet new medications.
CBD oil, that is sourced from hemp, is legal in the United States. CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, but unlike THC, it does not get you or your pet high. Instead, CBD oil interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the body and on the skin. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) helps to regulate inflammation, soreness, mood, anxiety, pain, and more. CBD influences the ECS to perform at its greatest capacity and is also known to promote a sense of calmness and relaxation, which may help soothe your ailing cat. Don't be scared to rub a conservative amount of CBD oil directly to the affected area of your cat, then sit back and enjoy the results!
Applying coconut oil to your feline's skin can help soothe irritation as well as battle infestation. Coconut oil kills many parasites, including fleas, while also providing your pet with a comforting relief from skin irritation. Although coconut oil is safe for cats, some felines may show signs of an upset stomach if it's ingested. Pay attention to your cat's reaction to make sure they are not suffering from any mild side effects after you apply the coconut oil directly to their skin.
Conclusion - Why It's Important to Check Your Cat for Fleas
You never want your pet to suffer, and best believe that's what is happening when fleas are feasting upon them. Itchiness can drive your furry friend insane, but luckily there are several home remedies to help alleviate this issue. Fleas travel quickly, and if you play and cuddle your pet constantly there is a good chance that you will get fleas as well. Make sure to stomp this problem out quickly and effectively, and take preventative measures to make sure they do not return again! Learn more about Holistapet here or feel free to check out more home remedies for cats here.