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How to Help Get Rid of Fleas on Your Cat

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What to do when your cat has fleas.
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A woman checking for fleas on her cat.

You see your cat as a companion, but fleas see your cat as a tasty snack. Whether your cat has been with you for years or you just adopted a new cat, fleas have a way of inviting themselves inside, too. As fleas are the number-one skin parasite of cats, you are your pet’s number-one champion when it comes to fighting fleas.

How to Tell If Your Cat Has Fleas

If you’re not sure if your cat has fleas, check for these signs:

  • Excessive grooming, making fleas difficult to find
  • Red bumps or scabs, specifically along neck and back
  • Shaking head
  • Restless behavior
  • Losing fur
  • Brown parasites jumping or crawling in fur

Finding fleas on your cat can be shocking; be aware that a clean home and well-cared-for cat may still be subject to an infestation. Even more shocking? The fleas you can see are adults, representing only a small percentage of a flea infestation. The majority of fleas are hidden during immature stages as eggs or larvae that you can’t see developing in and around your house.

How to Help Get Rid of Fleas on Your Cat

Now that you’ve identified the cause of your cat’s discomfort, you can address the problem through a variety of options.

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Treatment options for getting rid of fleas on cats: sprays, shampoos, comb and preventative products.
  • Treat your cat with a flea spray.
  • Bathe your kitten or cat with a specially-formulated flea shampoo.
  • Remove fleas with a flea comb; afterward, dip the comb in a mixture of dish soap and water to kill any fleas left on the comb. Use a flea preventive year-round.
  • Inspect and comb weekly to monitor a flea infestation on your cat.

Use a Flea Preventive for Cats

Flea preventives help discourage fleas from coming back. Effective flea prevention can be achieved through collars, topicals or oral products that can last anywhere from 30 days to eight months. Choose the prevention method that works best for you and your cat.

Keep in mind that preventives work best when used regularly and year-round; simply applying for one or two months could leave your pet unprotected.

Break the Flea Life Cycle on Your Cat

Ongoing vigilance combined with flea protection and prevention is the key to disrupting the flea life cycle. However, it may take a few months to help get rid of fleas, so don’t get discouraged. Even if you continue seeing a flea or two on your cat from time to time, that doesn’t mean the products aren’t working.

To help prevent a flea infestation from returning, follow these steps:

  • Check your cat at least weekly with a flea comb and look for signs of itching and scratching.
  • Set reminders to apply or administer treatment and prevention products according to product labels.
  • Consider where and with whom your cat interacts to determine the risk of flea infestation.

Treat All Your Pets for Fleas

If you have other cats or a dog, they could be at risk for fleas, too. Make sure to apply preventives to every pet in your home — both indoor and outdoor pets — to help keep an infestation from spreading and reduce the risk of future flea infestations.

Treat Your Environment for Fleas

Fleas don’t have set territories and aren’t confined to your cat. Flea eggs roll off your pet and scatter throughout your home and yard. Adult fleas are only a small portion of a flea infestation, so a few extra steps to treat your home and yard can further help reduce the risk of additional flea infestations.

Make an Ongoing Plan to Treat and Prevent fleas on Your Cat

Fleas are small, but mighty. They can reproduce quickly and easily hop on other pets or wildlife, so ongoing vigilance combined with flea protection and prevention is the key to success. It may take up to three months to adequately clear out the flea infestation. Help your cat by keeping a watchful eye for reinfestation, and remember to regularly use a flea preventive year-round.

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