How To Get Rid Of Fleas On Cats

Key takeaway

Fleas cause extreme itchiness in cats, affecting their quality of life. Additionally, fleas that bite cats can also bite humans, so treatment is necessary. The best way to get rid of fleas is to talk to your vet about the proper flea treatment and prevention product based on your cat’s needs.

Cats with fleas scratch their skin because flea bites can be extremely itchy. Fleas reproduce quickly, so a few fleas on your cat can soon turn into an infestation on your pet and around your home. Flea bites make cats itchy, causing skin irritation and overall discomfort, so it's best to try to get rid of fleas as soon as possible.

Luckily removing fleas and preventing recurring infestations is easy. One way to ensure your pet doesn’t have fleas is to check them regularly. Using a fine-toothed comb, you can check your cat’s skin and fur for fleas and remove them to reduce itching and discomfort. However, removing all the fleas and eggs can be difficult. While it may reduce some itching, the fleas will likely continue to reproduce and affect your cat.

To ensure your cat is flea-free, we'll provide a few different ways to get rid of fleas in this article.

How To Remove Fleas From Cats

Treating fleas starts with good prevention. It’s always best to prevent your cat from getting fleas in the first place and treat them early to reduce the likelihood of a larger infestation. Additionally, there are many different treatment options to kill fleas and keep them off your pet in the future.

How to remove fleas from cats

Here’s how to remove fleas on cats:

Step 1: Check your cat for fleas

Checking your cat for fleas can help you prevent infestations early on. You can check your cat for fleas regularly with a flea comb and watch for signs of flea activity. Common signs of fleas include crusty bumps and excessive itching.1 Fleas typically target the head, neck, lower back, thighs, and abdomen, so pay close attention to those areas.1

Signs a cat has fleas

Fleas are large enough to be seen upon close inspection.1 They are typically brown and a few millimeters long, and you may see them jumping around because they can’t fly. If you think your cat may have fleas, you can comb them over a white surface, such as a bed sheet or paper towel, and look for any fleas that may jump off or fall onto the surface.2 If there's any debris, such as black specs that look like ground pepper, it can indicate that your cat has fleas.

Of course, seeing one is the most obvious sign of fleas on cats. You may also notice excessive scratching due to skin irritation.1 Unfortunately, scratching can also point to other skin conditions, such as skin allergies, so it’s best to talk to your vet if your cat is scratching or grooming more than usual.

An itchy cat should see a vet as soon as possible to diagnose them for fleas and start treatment immediately.

While you should check your cat regularly, you should always closely examine them if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Scratching and itchy skin: Any amount of fleas can make your cat itchy. Most cats are allergic to flea saliva, which can cause extreme sensitivity and scratching.
  • Biting at skin and fur: Cats may bite the areas that they can’t scratch with their paws, such as their legs.
  • Hair loss: Fleas can result in hair loss due to an allergic reaction. Additionally, pets scratching the same place excessively can cause your cat to lose fur.

Knowing the signs of fleas can help you treat your cat faster and reduce discomfort associated with adverse symptoms.

Step 2: Use a suitable treatment

Of course, you should always take your cat to the vet if you suspect they have fleas. From there, your vet can suggest the most suitable treatment option for your pet to eliminate fleas and soothe itchy skin. Some flea treatments require a prescription, so it’s always best to seek out veterinary guidance on how to get rid of fleas on cats. A few options to get rid of fleas on cats include:

Spot-on products

Spot-on products are applied as drops onto the back of the neck,2 where the cat can’t lick or scratch it off. These drops are easy to apply, but not all spot-on products are the same; some are much more effective than others. It’s also important to avoid using treatments developed for a dog on cats and vice versa.2 A vet can help you determine the most effective spot-on flea treatment for your cat.

Tablets

Depending on your cat’s temperament, you may prefer to give them tablets, which are much easier to administer.2 Flea treatment tablets for cats are also available in chewables to make them more delectable for your cat.

Collars

Another easy option for eliminating fleas is to use a flea collar. Insecticidal flea collars use chemicals to prevent fleas. However, they’re not always effective and may lead to skin irritation.2 If you’re unsure whether this treatment is right for your cat, talk to a vet who can help you weigh the pros and cons.

Human putting a flea collar on a cat

The effectiveness of your cat’s flea prevention will depend on following the instructions stated on the packaging. Depending on your feline and whether they’d be willing to wear a collar, deal with drops, or take a tablet, your vet can help you find the best way to get rid of fleas on cats. Additionally, you should always ensure the safety of the treatment products you use, as some products may not be safe for kittens.2

Step 3: Get rid of fleas in your home

Fleas can bite humans and other pets, so treating your cat and home is essential. There are a few different products to get rid of fleas in your home, including sprays.

Sprays include insecticides that can kill adult fleas and prevent them from returning to the home for months. However, depending on the spray you use, it may not be safe to spray near your cats or any areas of the house where your cats spend their time.2 Ultimately, the best way to get rid of fleas in your home is to clean it thoroughly and wash all bedding in hot water.

It's also a good idea to treat all pets in your household since fleas can spread quickly from one animal to another.

Importance Of Treating Fleas On Cats

Fleas themselves are typically non-life-threatening to healthy adult cats. However, flea bites can cause extreme itching in cats.3 Additionally, excessive scratching can lead to open wounds that are susceptible to infection.2 Fleas also spread diseases and illnesses that can affect a human’s health, such as tapeworm, cat-scratch disease, murine typhus, and the plague.4

Preventing Fleas On Cats

By taking the necessary measures to prevent fleas, you don’t have to worry about your cat getting bit or an infestation taking over your home. Even though cats, specifically outdoor cats, can easily get fleas, there are many ways to protect them.

Proper flea management is crucial to preventing fleas

A few ways to prevent fleas on cats include:

  • Limiting their contact with stray animals
  • Bathing and brushing them regularly
  • Checking their skin and fur for fleas
  • Using flea prevention products year-round5

How To Get Rid Of Fleas On Cats: FAQs

Can cats get rid of fleas on their own?

Unfortunately, cats cannot get rid of fleas on their own. Fleas reproduce quickly, so the longer you wait to get your cat treatment, the worse their scratching can become, and the more fleas you’ll have in your home. Flea infestation can happen quickly, so it’s important to have your cat treated by a vet as soon as possible. If you notice any excessive scratching or see fleas in your home, take your cat to the vet immediately for treatment.

What’s the fastest way to get rid of fleas on cats?

A quick and easy way to remove fleas on your cat is to give them a bath using flea shampoo. However, without a flea preventative, the fleas will quickly jump back onto your cat. You can discuss the different preventative treatments with your vet to determine the most suitable one for your pet.

What should I do if my cat has fleas?

If your cat has fleas, take them to the vet immediately for treatment. The earlier you treat your cat for fleas, the less severe their itching and discomfort will become. Most vets can send you home with a prescription to treat and prevent future infestations after successfully diagnosing your cat.

Final Notes

While fleas are not always life-threatening, they can spread diseases to animals and humans. Removing fleas from your cat and home can protect your pets and family from irritating flea bites. Getting rid of fleas on cats should be done immediately at the first signs of infestation, and most cats require year-round prevention to ensure they don't get fleas again.

Common signs of fleas on cats include excessive scratching and grooming and black specs on their fur. Luckily, there are many types of flea treatments to treat and prevent a reinfestation, including spot-on treatments, insecticidal collars, and tablets. Some cat flea treatments require a veterinary prescription, so it’s essential to visit your vet as soon as you notice fleas on your cat.

Once your cat has been diagnosed with fleas, you’ll need to choose an appropriate treatment. With so many options available, finding the proper flea treatment for your cat can be difficult. So, we're here to help. With the support of a Dutch-affiliated veterinarian, you can determine the best flea preventative and get an online vet prescription sent right to your door. Start treating your cat's fleas as soon as possible with Dutch.

References

  1. “Fleas: A Source of Torment for Your Cat.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 21 May 2018, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/fleas-source-torment-your-cat.

  2. “Fleas and Flea Control in Cats.” International Cat Care, 19 Apr. 2021, https://icatcare.org/advice/fleas-and-flea-control-in-cats/.

  3. “Fleas: A Source of Torment for Your Cat.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 21 May 2018, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/fleas-source-torment-your-cat.

  4. “Fleas.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell Feline Health Center, 21 May 2018, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/fleas.

  5. “Preventing Fleas on Your Pets.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/fleas/avoid/on_pets.html.