Oh, no! Your cat has fleas? Poor cat. I hate those little buggers. Every bite itches so much, it makes me crazy. Fortunately, we know how to keep cats from getting fleas, so we don’t have to deal with them often, even though we spend a lot of time outside. But if your cat is itchy and scratching, keep reading. I’ll tell you some natural ways to get rid of fleas.
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My cat has fleas, and he’s miserable, Thomasina. Do you know any natural ways to get rid of fleas? I’d rather not use the products you buy in stores or get from the vet. — Feeling Itchy, Too.
Hey, Feeling Itchy, Too…
I’m so sorry your cat has fleas. And I don’t blame you for not wanting to use that stuff you get from a store or the vet. Some of it’s really dangerous, and the most popular brands don’t always work.
The one commercial product I’d suggest to get rid of fleas and provide immediate relief is Capstar. It’s as safe as other flea remedies you get from the vet are, and it kills adult fleas instantly. It doesn’t touch the eggs. But it will keep your cat comfortable while you’re working on more natural flea control.
Natural Treatments When Your Cat Has Fleas
You don’t have to put chemicals on your cat or around his neck in a collar to get rid of fleas. Gentle, natural methods can be just as effective, although they may take longer and require more effort on your part. My human typist and I came up with these tips.
♦ Use a flea comb. If your cats like to be brushed, they’ll love this! It feels so good, and it gets rid of the live fleas and eggs. Pay special attention to the base of the cat’s tail, ears, stomach and neck. The base of the tail is a favorite place for fleas to hang out.
Sit on a folded pale-colored sheet with your cat while you’re combing, so you can spot and squish (ugh) any fleas that jump off the cat before they get away. And put all the hair you comb off your cat in a deep glass of water to drown the fleas. Most people recommend using soapy water, but we don’t. You can’t see fleas trying to escape from the water if it’s soapy. And the color of the water, from deep to pale red, will tell you how much progress you’re making from day to day. When you’re done combing, pour the water out outside. Flushing cat hair down the toilet could cause major plumbing problems!
You will need to comb your cat every day until the fleas are completely gone.
♦ Comb food grade diatomaceous earth into your cat’s fur. You could do this after you comb him. Also, put it on his bedding and other places where he hangs out. You can use it on your carpeting and furniture, too.
Diotomaceous earth is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock crumbled into a fine powder. It dehydrates and kills live fleas. It doesn’t keep the eggs from hatching though, so you’ll have to do this every day until there’s no sign of fleas. And if you live with more than one cat, beware: Some cats love the taste of DE and will lick it off the others. This won’t harm the cat, but it won’t help the other cats, who will still have fleas.
♦ Wipe your cat down with homemade lemon juice. Many cats hate the smell of lemon though, so your cat might not appreciate this treatment at all. To make the lemon juice, boil a couple of lemons and let them steep for a few hours. Then, pour the juice into a bottle or covered bowl. Dip a comb into the lemon juice and comb it into the cat’s fur. It should kill the fleas. Be sure to put any fur and live fleas in a deep cup of water and pour out the water outside.
♦ Mix three teaspoons of olive oil with one teaspoon of oregano and put a small amount at the base of your cat’s tail, neck, ears and stomach. Again, your cat might not appreciate this. I know I wouldn’t like smelling like salad!
♦ Steep lavender overnight, strain the liquid and put it on the cat with a soft cloth, or comb it into his fur. But lavender is another scent some cats hate, so you might want to try putting just a tiny bit at the base of his tail to see how he reacts before doing the whole cat. Use fresh lavender. The concentration in bottled lavender essential oil could be too high for a cat.
Get Rid Of Fleas In Your Home
I hate to say this, and I know your cat will hate me for it. But if your cat has fleas, you really should vacuum every day. You can put a flea collar in your vacuum cleaner bag (never put a flea collar on your cat!) to kill the fleas and eggs you pick up. Be sure to get all the dark corners where fleas love to hide. When you’re done vacuuming, put the vacuum cleaner bag or empty the dust bin in the trashcan outside.
Also, wash your cat’s bedding, yours, and anything else that can go in the washing machine in the hottest water possible. And put diatomaceous earth, Fleabusters powder, or salt on your rugs and upholstered furniture. All three will dehydrate and kill the fleas. If you use salt, vacuum it up after an hour or so. If your cat licks it off his paws, it could cause high blood pressure or affect his kidneys.
Try treating your yard with beneficial nematodes. They’ll feast on the fleas before they get anywhere near your house or your cat.
Keeping Your Cat Flea-Free
Believe it or not, a species-appropriate, healthy diet could be your cat’s best defense against fleas. Fleas like cats who are old or sick. Healthy cats are very unappealing to them, and they usually leave them alone, in search of a tastier meal.
If you want to give your cat an extra flea-repelling boost, here are some more things to try. But first, never, ever put a flea collar on your cat. The collars supermarkets and pet supply stores sell can be toxic and even deadly. And how would you like wearing something that smells like insecticide or herbs around your neck? We don’t like it either, and our noses are much closer to our necks and our sense of smell is much more acute than yours!
♦ Add about 1/2 teaspoon of Brewer’s yeast to his food. Make sure the kind you buy doesn’t contain garlic.
♦ Rub a freshly squeezed orange or lemon into your cat’s fur. Fleas hate the smell of citrus. But many cats do, too. So try a test spot on a leg before doing the whole cat. Use fresh lemon. It’s worth repeating: The concentration in bottled essential oils can be too high and dangerous for cats.
♦ Mix one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water and rub it on your cat’s fur every couple of days to repel fleas. You can also add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to your cat’s water. But since we’re not big drinkers, and we’re very careful about the way our water tastes, your cat might not go for this.
I hope this helps, Feeling Itchy, Too. Tell your cat I’m so sorry he has fleas, and I hope they’re gone very soon.