Oh, cats. What would the Internet be without them? These strange yet adorable creatures have overtaken dogs as the world’s most popular pet, and they often seem poised to take over the world completely.
They seem like the type that would do that.
However, although humans first domesticated cats – or we were domesticated by them– to deal with pest problems, cats aren’t immune to problems of their own. And fleas are definitely one of them.
Why Home Remedies for Fleas on Cats are a Good Idea
Even a cat’s obsessive grooming won’t get rid of fleas by itself. Your feline friend is going to need a little help.
The tricky part is, though, that cats can be very susceptible to the harmful effects of chemicals. They have fewer enzymes in their liver than dogs do, which makes it harder for them to metabolize various substances.
For this reason, it’s important to treat cats differently than you would dogs. Just because a product works on a dog doesn’t mean it’s safe to use on a cat.
Also, fleas on a cat are often harder to get rid of because – well, let’s face it. Your cat isn’t going to cooperate with you at all. It’s just not in their nature.
Half the treatments for fleas you might perform on a cat will seem to the creature like some bizarre form of torture, and the rest will be an insult to its dignity.
So if you’re looking to solve your cat’s flea problem with some home remedies, good for you. Just be aware that you may have a fight on your hands.
5 Home Remedies for Fleas on Cats That Actually Work
Ready to put your kitty out of its itchy misery anyway? Read on for the best home remedies for fleas you can use on your cat.
Many of the most effective flea treatments can be dangerous for cats. Luckily, this is not the case with diatomaceous earth (DE).
This all-natural and non-toxic method of flea control appears to be a fine white powder to our untrained eye. But zoom in on what happens when it comes in contact with a flea – or any pest with an exoskeleton – and you see why it’s known as one of the best natural forms of pest control.
What does happen, you ask? Well, when a flea comes into contact with diatomaceous earth, the powder attaches to the fleas’ outer shells and causes the flea to dry out and eventually die of dehydration.
It’s not the quickest process, to be sure, since the DE must first come into contact with fleas. To make it easy for that to happen, we recommend using a bulb duster or even an empty spice jar with a shaker top to gently dust your cat with diatomaceous earth.
DE is non-toxic even when consumed, especially if you get the food-grade kind, but still take care to not get the powder in your cat’s eyes or nose as it can be irritating.
Once you’ve sprinkled the DE thoroughly through your cat’s fur, use your finger to gently rub it in close to your cat’s skin.
Apple cider vinegar
This magical substance has a million uses around the home. We know that the acidity of vinegar makes it useful as a cleaning agent on all kinds of surfaces. But that same acidity helps it to kill and repel fleas.
If using apple cider vinegar on your cat, mix it with an equal amount of water before using. You could try spraying the mixture on your cat’s fur, but if your cat has an aversion to spray bottles, you could also rub it in or even brush it in with a flea comb.
Okay, so you’re cat’s going to smell like vinegar for a while, and probably be mad at you. But it will reduce the population of fleas on the animal, and that can only be a good thing.
This method may make your cat suspicious that you’re preparing it for the oven, but it does work. Get your hands on as many of these dry herbs as possible: rosemary, fennel, eucalyptus, and peppermint.
Grind them up into a fine powder and use the shaker to apply the dust to your cat. Make sure to rub the mixture deep into its fur to make sure it reaches all the fleas.
This will also help to ensure that your cat doesn’t clean the mixture off immediately, which it will undoubtedly try to do.
Thanks to the lauric acid it contains, coconut oil has been found to kill fleas on pets. By rubbing the oil into your cat’s fur, you can help kill fleas that live on the animal.
Of course, the minute it can, the cat is going to try and remove the oil from its fur. So you shouldn’t apply too much at first, at least until you’ve had a chance to see how your cat reacts to it. Coconut oil is harmless for cats, but as with any new food, it could cause a stomach upset.
Deep down, you probably always knew it was going to come to this. There’s no way around it. Bathing your cat is one of the most effective home remedies for fleas on cats, especially to remove fleas in large numbers.
But simple water won’t do it – fleas are pretty resistant to drowning. In fact, studies show that it can actually take 24 hours of full submersion to kill a flea by drowning!
There’s no way your cat is going to stay in the tub that long. In addition to that, air pockets can get trapped in the fur, creating a safe space for fleas to flee to.
So do yourself a favor and pair the cat bath with some soap. You don’t even have to use a special flea soap – just go with a gentle, non-irritating option like unscented Castile soap.
Once you lather your cat up, try to leave the soap on your cat’s body for at least a couple minutes before rinsing your cat off.
Washing your cat may make her think you’re trying to kill her. But at least many cats enjoy being combed when dry. And plus, flea combing is hands down one of the most natural and effective ways to get rid of fleas on cats.
So get yourself a good quality flea comb and use it often. Remember, every flea you kill means thousands fewer fleas will be born.
Best part? It’s completely safe – at least for the cat. Although maybe not for you, if you value having an un-scratched skin.
4 Home Remedies for Fleas You Shouldn’t Use On Your Cat
Type ‘home remedies’ into a search engine, and you can guarantee that you’re going to come across some pretty strange stuff. For whatever reason, this field seems to attract all kinds of half-truths and outright lies.
But when you’re looking for home remedies for fleas, it’s important to remember that some products are worse than merely useless. Some can actively harm your cat.
So here are some things you should avoid:
Not only does garlic not kill fleas, but it is actually toxic to cats. Admittedly, your cat is unlikely to ingest enough garlic to cause it any harm.
But given that it’s definitely not going to harm the fleas, why use it at all? Keep the garlic in the lasagna where it belongs.
This citrus extract is known to have insecticidal properties, and so it is often used in the pet grooming business.
However, citrus extracts can be poisonous to cats. Better stay away from this one.
There are some essential oils out there that will either repel or even kill fleas. However, many of them can make your cat sick.
While some are safer than others, it’s hard to know what your pet will react to until you try. Better for safety’s sake to steer clear.
Okay, so this isn’t really a home remedy. This is a widely used insecticide that is often an active ingredient in flea shampoos for dogs.
But permethrin is deadly to cats, since their bodies can’t metabolize the chemical nearly as well as that of a dog. So never use a permethrin shampoo on your cat. It’s better to have a live cat with fleas than a dead one without.
That sounds grim but this is serious. Always check to make sure there is no permethrin in any of the products you use on your cat.
Are Home Remedies for Fleas on Cats Enough?
Now that you know which home remedies for fleas on cats work – and which can be harmful – you’re probably wondering if this is enough to get rid of fleas on your cat.
The sad news is, no, it’s not.
You may not want to hear this, but it’s important for every person dealing with fleas to know: fleas are a notoriously difficult pest species to get rid of. These pesky buggers multiply at alarming rates and if you don’t nip the problem in the bud properly, you can be dealing with fleas for longer than you’d care for.
To get rid of fleas once and for all requires more than simply treating your cat – it takes a holistic, multi-pronged approach that involves getting rid of fleas on all of your pets, your home (especially your carpet!), and even your yard.
On top of that, you’ll also want to put preventative measures into place so that your cat never gets fleas again.
It’s a lot to take in but it’s the brutal truth. The good news is that as difficult as it is, getting rid of fleas can be done. Just make sure you treat both your cat and the entirety of your home. Good luck!