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How to Choose the Best Flea Treatment for Your Cat?

by Vetic Editorial
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“My cat lives indoors, but she has fleas”

“I comb my cat every day, but what are these black things around her neck that look like dirt?”

“We just applied a cat flea treatment, so why is my cat scratching all the time?”

Almost all cat owners share these concerns. almost all of them have the same answer “cat flea treatment!”

 

Fleas can be quite a nuisance even for completely indoor cats. Your cats can catch fleas from your dog that goes outside. Cat fleas can even piggyback on you for a ride to your fluffy. 

Simply using herbal flea sprays, cat flea shampoo, or spot-ons isn’t enough to ensure that your cat remains free from fleas in the long run. 

That is exactly what makes cat flea treatment at home challenging for all cat parents. 

What on earth are cat fleas?

Fleas are parasites that remain on the skin and feed on animal blood. Sadly, they are also capable of transmitting diseases through their bites. 

Apart from bacterial infections, flea bites cause serious skin irritation in infected cats. 

Removing the adult cat fleas by using a cat flea shampoo or flea comb is often not enough since a single female flea lays up to 50 eggs on the cat. These eggs easily fall off the cat’s fur coat and hide among bedding, carpets, furniture, and furnishings. 

The flea eggs and larvae don’t die easily. The adult fleas can remain in wait for a suitable host (dogs or cats) for up to 50 weeks. 

Even one flea on your cat can produce up to 2000 eggs in its lifetime and infest your home. 

Why do I need to worry about fleas on my cat?

Infographic titled Effects of Fleas in Cats. The listed effects include cat flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), anemia, rickettsia, mycoplasma, cat scratch disease and tapeworms. You need to give flea treatment to cats or even you can be at risk of some of these infections.

Once you understand the threats fleas pose to your cat’s health, you will be eager to get them off your cat ASAP.

Whether you have recently adopted or rescued a kitten, or you have an adult cat at home, these are the reasons you need to ensure that they remain free from fleas at all times. 

Distress and diseases caused by cat fleas –

  • Cat flea bites can cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) and severe allergic reactions on your cat’s skin. 
  • If your cat swallows a flea with a tapeworm larva when they are licking themselves it can lead to tapeworm infestation in your cat’s gut.
  • Fleas can cause cat scratch disease in cats as well as their owners. 
  • Cat fleas can transmit mycoplasma (a bacterial disease) from one infected cat to another.
  • They can also cause multiple other bacterial infections including Rickettsia.
  • An excessive flea infestation can lead to anaemia in cats.

Oh. Did you know? Tapeworms, cat scratch disease and flea-borne typhus can also cause serious infections in people.

It is imperative to deflea your cat(s) and home environment especially if you have seniors and children living with you. 

What is the right process to control AND prevent flea infestation on my cat?

Flea treatment for cats

Many of these cat flea treatments also work as effective tick treatments in cats, although tick infestation in cats is not that common in India.

The following are viable flea and tick control solutions for all cat parents. However, we strongly recommend consulting a veterinarian before you choose one or more of these flea control methods. 

Infographic titled How to get rid of fleas in cats. the options include - regular grooming with a flea comb, application of anti-flea spot-on, bathing the cat with anti-flea shampoo.

Anti-flea Spot-ons for cats

With the hundreds of spot-on products in the market, it is incredibly confusing for a cat owner to pick the one suitable for their cat. They have different compositions, weight categories and varying spectrums of efficiency. 

Several cat owners prefer spot-on flea treatments since it is a non-invasive process. Most cats allow their humans to apply these solutions without much struggle. And you can apply this flea treatment at home without expert assistance. 

The most common compositions of spot-ons available in the market include –

  • Fipronil 9.8% and S-Methoprene 11.8% – high-efficiency brand-name spot-ons include Fiprofort Plus 
  • 6% Selamectin – popular brand names are Radicate, Selaforte, and Revolution
  • Imidacloprid – 
  • Imidacloprid 10% and Moxidectin 1% – most effective branded products include Assurity Plus and Advocate
  • Fipronil, (S)-Methoprene, Eprinomectin, and Praziquantel – easily available brand name products include Broadline Plus
  • Natural ingredients (concentrated essential oils blend)

You should only opt for spot-on flea treatment if your kitten is older than 8 weeks (almost 2 months). Always check the weight of your cat/kitten and the weight category mentioned on the product before applying. 

Use ONLY one tube per cat irrespective of the severity of the flea infestation. Speak to a veterinarian for further guidance regarding the composition of the spot-on and the frequency of application. 

Anti-flea spray for cats

  • Natural blends containing neem and tulsi
  • All-natural sprays containing rosemary, cedarwood and sesame
  • Fipronil 0.25% (Fiprofort spray)

If you are using any spray on your kitten or cat, ensure that they do not lick themselves in the next 30 mins. Keep them busy with treats and toys until the spray dries completely. Use a flea comb to remove the dead fleas and wipe them down with pet-friendly biodegradable wipes. 

Flea shampoo for cats

Although there are plenty of flea shampoos for cats available in our clinic and in the market, we don’t always encourage cat owners to give their cats medicated baths. 

Reason 1 – Cats are not the most cooperative during bathing

Reason 2 – While using a medicated shampoo the chemicals and runoff can get into your cat’s eyes and ears

Reason 3 – If you do not know the proper technique, fleas will hide in difficult-to-reach areas and emerge once your cat’s fur is dry. 

Removing fleas from the home 

Unless you get rid of the new fleas from the corners of your home, your cat will never enjoy complete freedom from fleas. 

After the regular sweeping, mopping and vacuuming, you may want to use pet-friendly products that kill fleas and other insects. Insect growth regulators play a significant role in the control of fleas in homes. 

Clean your cat’s bedding as frequently as possible. Wash the bedding thoroughly to remove fleas nesting deep in the crannies of the cosy cat bed.

If you have a garden where other animals also visit, you may want to change your shoes as soon as you enter the home and clean up before you handle your cat. 

I have given my cat flea treatments at home and treated my home, why do they still have fleas?

This happens when you have not followed the manufacturer’s instructions or used a spot-on that caters to cats weighing less than your fluffy. Most people experience this when they have applied the spot-on incorrectly. 

If you have applied the spot-on recently, steer clear of reapplying it. You can think about using flea sprays on your cat. Spray your home with cat-safe insecticides to get rid of the fleas in hiding. 

You will have to spray your cat with flea spray at least twice a week followed by brushing. And you will have to use cat-safe insecticide regularly to clean your place. 

Infographic - Signs of Fleas in Cats. the signs of fleas in cats can include patchy hair loss, excessive scratching and gnawing, visible fleas on the back, small red bumps, lethargy, small black specs around the neck and armpits that look like dirt, and light colored specks on their fur and bedding. You can eliminate all these signs by choosing the right way to get rid of fleas in cats.

You need to break the lifecycle of the fleas and that may take between 2 to 4 weeks if you are already sharing your home with a battalion of fleas. 

Most importantly, different spot-ons are effective for different durations. While one provides protection for 30 days, another can provide protection for 90 days. It will also depend on how long ago you applied the spot-on solution. Either read the product label to learn about its reapplication frequency or ask a vet. 

Are the insecticides safe for my cat, children and seniors? 

While buying ensure that the product description labels it safe for pets and children. If you stick to the manufacturer’s instructions many of the nature-based products are indeed safe for you and your cats.

Refrain from mixing two or more insecticides with different chemicals even if you suspect a heavy flea load at home. 

Outdoor insecticides that you can safely use in the garden or yard are very different from indoor ones. Always double-check the description and application instructions to be completely sure. 

In case you are confused about which one to buy, you can ask a vet to help you out. 

Which anti-flea products are dangerous for my cat?

We know how badly you want to shoo those pesky fleas away from your cat, but you should first ensure that the anti-flea products are not harmful to your kitty. 

Here are some over-the-counter (OTC) product compositions you must NEVER apply on a cat –

  • Amitraz – Commonly known as Rid, even the smallest amount can be severely toxic to your cat.
  • Ivermectin – Common brand names include Hitek and Neomec. Never administer ivermectin to a cat. Always consult a veterinarian for the topical use of ivermectin. 
  • Permethrin – A very common component in dog spot-ons, shampoos and sprays. Permethrin is highly toxic for cats. Common human products containing it include Mediker and Head Lice.
  • Cypermethrin – Cypermethrin is a very common component of anti-flea and anti-tick dog shampoos. You should never use them on your cat since the compound can cause immediate toxicosis. 

I have applied flea spot-on on my cat, but why are they still scratching?

A flea spot-on will remove the existing fleas and prevent further infestation as long as it’s effective, but it cannot undo the damage already done by fleas. Typically, a spot-on will take between 12 to 72 hours to remove all the adult fleas from your cat if you have applied the cat flea treatment correctly. 

The scratching can be a sign of flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) which happens when your cat is sensitive to flea saliva. It is a chronic allergic reaction. 

Infographic titled lifecycle of fleas in cats. The information include step 1 - eggs shed by the female flea into the environment, step 2 - the eggs hatch into larvae, step 3 - larvae form pupae, step 4 - adult fleas form and finally, step 5 - adult fleas infect the cat! Getting rid of fleas from cats involves breaking this cycle.

Constant scratching can damage the skin and pave the way for fungal and bacterial skin infections. 

If you see your cat scratching and notice redness of skin you need to take your cat to a vet. Your cat may have FAD or a skin infection that needs medical attention. 

Can I use dog flea treatments such as Advocate for Dogs for my cat?

Cats are not small dogs. The products meant for flea treatment of dogs are not suitable for cats. Most of the chemicals in dog flea and tick treatments are toxic for your cats. 

You CANNOT use flea products meant for chihuahuas, Pomeranians, pugs or spitzes for your cat. It can cause severe toxicosis, leading to vomiting, seizures, loss of consciousness and death. 

If you cannot find a suitable cat flea treatment (spot-on, spray, or shampoo), visit your nearest Vetic Pet Clinic or give us a call for complete guidance. 

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