Every feline is at risk of a flea infestation (Ctenocephalides Felis), and they can spread like wildfire. Fortunately, a typical home contains many organic remedies for fleas that won’t harm your cat.
Read on to learn about natural flea remedies for cats. You will have more options open to you than you may realize. Perhaps best of all, none of them involve giving your cat a bath to remove fleas.
How Do I Know if My Cat Has Fleas?
Many people associate fleas with scratching, but there are other symptoms to an infestation. As PetMD explains, these include:
- Constant licking and grooming
- Blood congealing in the ears
- Black spots on the skin
- Bald patches in the hair coat
If you have any reason to believe that your cat has fleas, act quickly. There is nothing to gain and plenty to lose by allowing the flea population to multiply.
There is no need to rush your cat to the vet – that’s just risking more exposure. Handle the problem yourself, seeking help if you fear your cat is experiencing an allergic reaction.
I Found Fleas on My Cat, What Now?
The first step is to eradicate the infestation. Not only will flea bites be uncomfortable for cats, but they could spark an allergic reaction. Fleas that attach to cats may also feed on humans.
Perhaps worst of all, an untreated flea problem can quickly become a home invasion. A solitary flea can lay up to 50 eggs in a day. This means that your entire home could become a breeding ground if you’re not careful. If you find fleas on your cat, kill them using one of the methods that we have discussed. There is no room for sentiment where fleas are concerned.
Next, you’ll need to clean up your home. That means washing anything that is not nailed down on a high heat. Your cat’s bed, every blanket, your bed sheets, and your sofa cushions. It’s also advisable to rent or purchase a carpet cleaner. Flea eggs live within carpet fibers, and a vacuum cleaner will not always successfully eradicate them.
This may all sound drastic, but it’s crucial. A flea infestation is easy to gain, and extremely difficult to eradicate. For the sake of yourself and your cat, it’s essential that you destroy any fleas in the vicinity. If these bugs make themselves at home, they can be hard to shift. Professional fumigation can be inconvenient and expensive, so many people prefer to avoid it.
What are the Best Natural Flea Treatments for Cats?
If you’re looking for an easy way to get rid of fleas on cats, you have many options. Some everyday household items provide home remedies for fleas on cats without bathing. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn, including the pros and cons.
1) Apple Cider Vinegar
Of all natural deterrents for fleas, apple cider vinegar is surely the most effective. This product can be diluted (one part vinegar, two parts water) and poured into a spray bottle. Just avoid spraying it directly into your cat’s face or any open wounds.
Some cats won’t enjoy being sprayed, but this method is truly impactful. If spraying is a complete no-go, dip a comb in the solution instead. Any fleas in your cat’s fur will leap as soon as they detect apple cider vinegar. As this treatment doesn’t kill, however, spray it outside or combine it with a flea killer. It’s best to deal with the problem entirely, rather than allowing fleas to strike again.
2) Baking Soda
There are many myths that surround baking soda and fleas.
- Baking soda will not single-handedly kill fleas. Combined with salt, however, it’s very impactful.
- Baking soda and salt as a paste make a great natural flea shampoo. It’s not a dry shampoo, though. This combination would need to be washed off in the shower after application.
- Dry baking soda will not do the trick. Apply it to your cat, then rub it in using a flannel or wet wipe. You’ll also need to clear it off afterward, or it will dry out your cat’s skin.
- Baking soda will not eliminate flea eggs. It just dries out and kills existing fleas.
This is not to say that baking soda is not an effective flea killer. The fact is, it works well if mixed with salt. Some even claim that diluted baking soda and vinegar is a spray bottle works well. If you use this method, though, keep it will way from your cat’s eyes and face.
Baking soda is best used to kill fleas around the home, not on your cat’s fur. Sprinkle a solution of baking soda and salt on carpets overnight. If you wash it off in the morning then push a vacuum around, you’ll be flea-free. The same applies to furnishings and curtains. Just keep baking soda off your cat’s body – the impact is limited without bathing.
Good old-fashioned salt can be a good flea killer by itself. The logic is simple. This product dries fleas out, and kills them.
What is less straightforward is how salt will help your cat with their flea problem. They should avoid consuming large amounts of sodium. This can be harmful to a cat’s health. It will have to be applied directly to your cat’s body.
Rubbing table salt on your cat will do the trick, as will Epsom salts. You could also look into natural salt products from a pet store. These are designed to kill fleas.
Once you have applied the salt, keep an eye on your pet. If they show any signs of a skin reaction, clean them up immediately. Also, make sure that your cat does not lick the salt from their body.
4) Aloe Vera
Aloe vera does not kill fleas on cats, but it does repel them. Also, it will soothe any discomfort your cat is experiencing from bites. These healing properties, along with the smell that deters fleas, make it essential. You’ll make your cat more comfortable, and prevent them from being bitten in the same place again.
Adding a little cayenne pepper to the gel will be particularly impactful at deterring fleas. They hate it. If your cat will tolerate cayenne pepper, mix half a teaspoon with some aloe vera juice. When your cat drinks this liquid, they will experience a wide range of health benefits.
5) Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is a natural flea deterrent. You have a couple of options when it comes to applying this to a cat. Juice could be squeezed into water, and applied as a spray. Alternatively, cut a lemon in half and rub it over your cat’s fur. Fleas will give them a wide berth as long as the citrus scent lingers.
Naturally, however, there is an elephant in the room here. Cats loathe the smell of citrus almost as much as fleas. This means that you may inadvertently distress your pet.
If you have more than one cat, another may be aggravated by the scent. It’s advisable to check how your cat reacts to lemon juice before applying it liberally.
Garlic is a complex subject with cats. It’s believed that garlic in the blood kills fleas. Feeding your cat small quantities in advance of flea season is a great precaution. If a flea bites your cat, the garlic in their blood will instantly kill them.
Things are a little more complicated than this, though. Garlic can be toxic to cats. Stick with cloves, and feed one slice two or three times each week. Powdered garlic is less impactful, and it’s easy to overfeed a cat. Just four teaspoons without sufficient breaks between servings could be fatal.
Garlic is effective at killing fleas on cats, but it’s best handled with care. If you decide to use this natural remedy, consult a vet first. Based on your cat’s general health and weight, they may suggest that you try something else.
Cedarwood is a bona fide flea killer. Rub it onto your cat’s skin as an essential oil, or sprayed as a diluted solution. If you can, sprinkle some cedar chips in your cat’s litter too.
Before you do this, however, apply a very small patch to a part of your cat’s skin. This is because some felines loathe the smell of cedar. You could drive your cat crazy by antagonizing them with such a scent. Likewise, if you plan to use chips, wave a closed bag under their nose. Your cat will not be shy about letting you know if they don’t care for it.
It’s advisable to learn your own pet’s relationship with cedar before making it a flea treatment. Your cat may end up almost as uncomfortable as they would with a flea infestation. If they are happy with it, however, cedarwood is very effective.
8) Lavender Oil
Essential oils will not appeal to every cat, but they can make impactful flea repellents. Lavender, in particular, is highly effective. It has the dual purpose of smelling horrific to fleas, and keeping cats calm. If you have a nervous indoor cat, a little lavender spray or oil goes a long way.
Because fleas hate the smell of lavender, they will not attach themselves to your cat. Even if they do, they will likely leap off again almost immediately.
Unfortunately, lavender oil is only a deterrent – it will not kill any fleas. If facing a particularly stubborn parasite, they may cling on for dear life. Also, a flea that leaps onto a lavender-scented cat may leap off again. This means that, if they find another food source, the problem is not resolved. A flea may end up finding a snack elsewhere if your home, if they act fast enough.
A cocktail of herbs can be an impactful remedy for fleas. Some of the herbs that fleas hate include:
Boil up some or all of herbs into some water, and leave it to cool off. Once it’s safe to apply, you can then pop the mixture into a spray bottle and apply to your cat. Yes, we’re relying upon spray bottles again. Your cat may not enjoy this experience.
Unfortunately, it’s unsafe to encourage your cat to eat these herbs or drink the liquid solution. If consumed to excess, this could be just as harmful to your cat as they are the fleas.
10) Flea Combs
Sometimes the most straightforward solutions are the best. A flea comb will eradicate any parasites from your cat without the need for chemicals. It’s best to purchase a specialist flea comb designed for cats, though. A human comb will have teeth that are too far apart to capture everything.
If you are going to use a flea comb on your cat, keep a bowl of soapy water handy. Don’t worry, this isn’t for your cat itself. You should, however, dip your comb in the water after every brush. Plunging the comb into the bowl will drown, and kill, and fleas captured within the teeth.
Using a flea comb is simple. Start with the head, and work your way down your cat’s body. If there are any fleas or eggs within your pet’s fur, the comb will trap them. This should be done twice a day. A flea comb is not flawless, but if you’re averse to chemicals, it can be a useful tool. Indoor cats, in particular, will benefit from the use of a flea comb.
Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas?
This sedimentary rock, which is available from most stores, is an impactful flea killer. This is because it’s created from fossilized algae. If a flea comes into contact with diatomaceous earth, their exoskeletons dry out very quickly.
We have not mentioned this product on our list for two key reasons.
- Diatomaceous earth should never be applied directly to a cat’s body. It will dry out their skin, and potentially cause harm.
- Diatomaceous earth only kills live fleas, not their eggs. This means you will only be eradicating the problem, not the source.
If you have a backyard that your cat likes to patrol, sprinkle a little diatomaceous earth. This will mean that any fleas making their way into your property will quickly be killed. Do not rely on diatomaceous earth as a solitary flea repellent or killer.
Will Bathing a Cat Kill Fleas?
Water alone is not enough to get rid of fleas on cats. Neither is blow-drying, even though heat kills fleas. You will need a temperature that is unsafe for cats to gain such a benefit. If your cat does enjoy a bath, though, it can be a useful tool against fleas.
Never use human shampoo on a cat, though, not even one designed for hair lice. Cats have a skin pH of around 7, as opposed to the 5.5 of humans. This means that our products could cause serious harm to their skin.
Flea management is a critical part of cat ownership. While these insects are often more commonly associated with dogs, countless cats struggle with them. These struggles can quickly become a challenge for humans too, if not treated.
What Else Can I Do to Deter Fleas?
Aside from regularly checking your cat and applying treatments, you should make your home unwelcome to fleas. Some ways of doing this include:
- Dehumidifying your home. Fleas need humidity to survive. Keeping your home dry prevents eggs from hatching, and existing fleas will dry out and die.
- Vacuuming regularly. The more often you vacuum your home, the more eggs will be sucked up. Fewer eggs mean fewer fleas – which, in turn, means fewer eggs.
- Washing your laundry on high heat. Fleas cannot survive in high temperatures. Turn up the temperature on your laundry, and use the dryer. This will kill off any fleas of eggs that may be stubbornly clinging on. If you do this once a week, fleas will soon become a thing of the past.
- Steam cleaning your soft furnishings. Aim to do this once a month. Any stubborn fleas will quickly be cleared out by the steam.
Keeping on top of flea infestations can feel like a lot of work, but it’s vital. If you give a flea an inch, they’ll take a mile. Don’t allow these parasites to set up camp in your home.