Did you know that even your indoor cat could get fleas?
That’s right – even if your little lion doesn’t roam the jungles of your backyard it’s still possible for those monstrous fleas to latch onto their skin.
So even if your cat is an indoor princess, you still need a good preventative flea treatment.
Flea prevention treatments are an essential part of any pet’s basic health care routine. Though fleas might not seem like the serious of issues, they’re actually nasty little parasites that can carry very harmful diseases and can cause a lot of discomfort for your pet.
(Besides, no one wants a flea infestation in his or her house.)
While your veterinarian should always be consulted before choosing a flea prevention treatment for your favorite feline, we are going to give you a basic overview of choosing and applying flea treatments so you aren’t going into the vet visit blindly.
Choosing a Flea Treatment for Cats
To avoid any flea-related nightmares, the key is choosing the proper flea prevention product for your cat. This choice will depend on a few factors related to your cat’s age and health status. You may also want to take cost into consideration.
Some flea prevention products are definitely more effective than others, but generally speaking, they all have their pros and cons. And you may have to try out a few methods before you find the best option for your cat.
But before we go over these different flea prevention products, we want to emphasize one very important thing:
The flea prevention treatment you choose MUST say it is for cats somewhere on the package.
Flea treatments for dogs and cats are NOT the same and using a product intended for dogs on your kitty could have serious consequences.
Some products are also only intended for cats of a certain age and weight range, and if you have any doubts or questions about a flea prevention product we implore you to call your veterinarian. You may need to bring your furry friend into the vet anyways if you plan on using a prescription flea treatment.
But, even if you want to go with an over-the-counter method, your vet will still be your best resource. After all, they know your cat’s health better than anyone!
3 Ways to Keep Fleas Off Your Feline
Now that we’ve covered some of the factors that go into choosing flea treatments, let’s talk a bit about the flea prevention options available for your kitty cat: topical solutions, oral pills and tablets, and collars.
1. Topical Solutions
One option for keeping fleas off of your cat is a topical solution, like Frontline Plus for Cats or Cheristin for Cats. They are usually applied monthly directly and begin working within 12 hours of application.
Topical treatments often kill fleas on contact (in other words a flea doesn’t have to bit your cat in order to be poisoned). However, some may not be very effective for killing adult fleas – instead, they disrupt the larvae cycle and kills eggs.
Also, you are basically putting a pesticide directly onto your cat’s skin, so it has to be placed where your feline friend can’t lick it off. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave you many placement options, especially considering cats seem to find a way to lick and clean literally every inch of their body.
Obviously, you do not want your cat to ingest toxic topical flea treatments. This is why a topical treatment may not be the best option for your cat, especially if he or she can somehow reach the back and shoulder area. Plus, their skin could have an adverse reaction to the product.
2. Oral Pills and Tablets
Oral pills and tablets are perhaps the most effective flea treatment for your cat, or any pet for that matter.
An oral treatment ensures that the entire body is protected from flea infestation and produce visible results in less than an hour (i.e. you might see dead fleas falling off your cat’s body). Some of these will come in a chewable tablet and others in pill form, and there are a number of variations cats of all ages and weights.
It’s important that you pay attention to the age and weight limits for these oral treatment options. For example Comfortis, one of the best oral flea preventatives on the market, is only approved for use in cats 14 weeks of age or older and at least 4.1 pounds in weight. (By the way, Comfortis is one of the few flea treatments that actually can be used for dogs AND cats).
Certain oral flea treatments prevent infestations for up to one month, but others only treat for existing infestations. If your pet is prone to getting fleas, you will want to pick a pill that will constantly protect them from the parasite. We also recommend talking to your veterinarian before administering any oral flea treatment.
There is a downside to oral treatments, however.
If you are a cat owner, you probably already know that most cats really do not like taking pills. Even if you hide it in food, they’re stubborn enough to scope out the pill and eat around it. And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried shoving a pill down a cat’s throat, but trust us – it’s not fun.
So if your cat doesn’t take pills easily, an oral flea treatment might not work out so well for you. But you can always try some of these tricks.
3. Flea Prevention Collars
The other most common flea prevention product for cats is a collar. These can be less expensive than other flea treatment options and can last up to eight months. Many of them also protect your cat against ticks.
However, flea collars may not be as effective compared to other methods. They also may irritate your cat’s skin or leave unwanted chemical residue on your cat and around your home. And like topical treatments, there is a chance that your cat could lick the collar and get some of those chemicals into their bloodstream.
If you need something inexpensive, then by all means use a collar – especially if you also need tick prevention. Just keep an eye on your cat’s skin and make sure they aren’t chewing or prodding at it.
But How Do I Apply Flea Treatment for Cats on MY Cat?
Now, the only type of product that really requires physical application is a topical solution. After all, with a collar you just pop it on and with pills… well, you somehow trick your cat into eating them.
Topical treatments, on the other hand, often need to be applied in a particular manner in order to ensure that your cat is flea-free. Plus, you’ll need to watch to make sure your cat doesn’t lick it off.
Be sure to carefully read the instructions with your particular flea prevention product, but these basic steps should help you along the way.
Before you apply any topical flea treatment, you will want to make sure your cat’s skin is clean and completely dry. The best place to put the solution on a cat is as high up on the back of the neck as possible (this is the area they are least likely to be able to lick).
You also may want a second set of hands to hold your kitty still – just a thought.
Typically, a spot-on topical flea treatment will come in some sort of applicator like a tube. Holding the applicator upright so the contents don’t drip out, you will want to either twist off or snap off the tip depending on the type of applicator.
Next, hold and part the fur at the base of your cat’s neck. The skin in this area will need to be exposed enough to apply the solution as most of these flea treatments only work if completely absorbed into the skin.
Then, you’ll want to put the applicator directly against the skin in the application area until the contents are completely empty. There’s no need to apply any pressure – this is just to ensure that the solution doesn’t drip anywhere else on your cat’s body or on your floor.
If any solution does get anywhere else, clean it off quickly with a paper towel. You don’t want your cat to lick it up. Should your cat consume any of the flea prevention solution, or if it gets in his or her eyes, call your veterinarian immediately.
After applying the flea prevention solution, wash your hands thoroughly and avoid touching the application area on your cat until it’s dry. And though it’s unlikely your cat will get wet considering cats aren’t the biggest fans of water, you still will want to make sure that area doesn’t get wet for at least a couple of days.
Lastly, be sure to monitor your cat for side effects like skin irritation or hair loss.
Keep Your Cat Flea Free & Purring
If you don’t currently have flea treatment for cats on your pet, be sure to get them on one as soon as possible! If this is the first time you’re putting your cat on a flea medicine, you will absolutely want to make an appointment to see your vet.
Your cat will be a purring, loving, happy ball of fur if you keep those nasty fleas away!