How to Get Rid of Fleas on Your Cat

cat scratching itself

Keeping your feline friend pest-free is a top priority for pet owners, so it’s no wonder you’ve found yourself reading about how to get rid of fleas on your cat. Not only are they annoying for the constantly grooming companion, but they can also pose health hazards to your cat as well as yourself.

Firstly, if your cat has fleas don’t beat yourself up over it. While indoor-outdoor cats are more prone to these scratchy fur invaders, strictly indoor cats can get them all sorts of things. Think of fleas as house ants for animals, it’s going to happen at least once. With that in mind, let’s start with flea prevention tactics to help decrease the chances of your cat getting fleas to begin with.

Ways to Prevent Your Cat From Getting Fleas

Flea dirt
 Flea Dirt Photo Credit:
Dr. Zak, CC by SA 3.0

Pets aren’t the only ones that need to be trained. Cat owners could benefit from some cat flea-prevention behaviors as well. Here are a few tips to help prevent the little fur-biters from wanting to nest on your kitty:

Keep your cat indoors if possible. Understandably, you want your feline friend to be able to have fun outside with you or enjoy their natural inclinations but fleas live outside and are just waiting to pounce on the fur of your cat.

Keep the yard well-maintained. Fleas live in grassy lawns and moist brush. They’re not fans of the sun, so try and make sure fleas wouldn’t want to come to your yard. That way your cat is less likely to get fleas while prowling the backyard with you.

Monthly flea treatments from the store or your vet can help prevent fleas from taking hold. This is especially important if your cat is an outdoor pet or some family members like running around in the woods. Remember, people can get fleas too. Also, make sure you get flea prevention treatments made for cats. Some that are made for dogs are toxic for the four-legged feline friend.

Does Your Cat Have Fleas?

Red dots show feline milliary dermatitis - a reaction to flea bites
Red dots show feline miliary dermatitis, an allergic reaction most commonly caused by flea bites. Credit: Caroldermoid, CC by SA 3.0.

Some of the best cat flea preventions sometimes fail and so, it’s important to know the signs of a flea infestation before it spreads around the house. Here are some things to look for in your cat:

  • Frantic and aggressive scratching or self-biting.
  • Hair loss and excessive grooming.
  • Behavior changes such as restlessness and agitation.
  • Scabby bumps and red skin lesions.
  • Pepper like specs on the cat’s fur.
  • Black or reddish-brown bugs crawling in the fur or on the skin.
  • Pale gums and muscle loss. This is a sign of a serious flea infestation that is causing dangerous health problems.

DIY Cat Flea Home Remedies

Unless it’s a bad flea infestation, many times you can solve a lighter case of cat fleas with some at-home remedies rather than a vet visit. Let’s take a look at some DIY things you can do to help your cat be flea-free:

  • Wash and dry the cat’s bed in a high heat setting, this will kill any fleas hiding in the bed.
  • Vacuum all the rugs, carpeting, drapes, and furniture in the house. Fleas often hide in fabric waiting for their next host and their eggs can roll off into other areas of the house.
  • Use cedar chips and cedar oil to help the fleas leave. The smell of cedar drives fleas crazy and is non-toxic for your cat. Dab some cedar oil on your cat’s fur and leave cedar chips around the yard as well as around where your cat likes to hang out.
  • Citric acid kills fleas, so using a lemon or lemon juice spray on your cat will help get rid of the fleas. Pantry to the rescue!
  • Diluted dish-soap sprayed onto your cat will kill plenty of fleas.
  • Lavender can help soothe your cat’s flea suffering and kill fleas in the same move. Just let some lavender steep in water overnight and then spray the liquid on their coat.

Flea Medicines

If the flea home remedies aren’t cutting it, you can check with your vet for some heavy-duty flea medication or head to your local pet store for over the counter flea medication. Make sure they’re safe for cats, as mentioned earlier, some flea medicines for dogs are toxic for cats.

There is a wide selection of flea medication for cats, from sprays and collars to oils and pills to hide in the food. Make sure to read if there are any side effects and that it’s appropriate for your cat to take, especially if they’re elderly or have a history of some health issues.

No matter which route you go, home remedies or medication for fleas, always de-flea your home. You never know where the eggs have rolled or where those pests are hiding.

Happy Cats Have Flea-Free Homes

Fleas can cause all sorts of health problems beyond the annoyances they create. Be sure to have some flea-prevention behaviors for yourself and protect your cat from bringing them indoors or from a visiting pet. If you do find fleas, don’t fret, there are many options for you and your cat to regain a flea-free life.

Phillip Forsgren

Phillip Forsgren

Quirky, corny, and a little too invested in research. Phillip Forsgren grew up laboring over book reports and, as a result, became a freelance writer.