The worst has happened: your cat has fleas. But you’re not one to dwell on misfortune. No, you’re a take action type and all you want to know is: what’s the best flea treatment for cats?
Kudos to you. ‘Cause when it comes to fleas, you don’t have time to mess around with treatments that don’t work.
While you’re busy experimenting, the fleas will get busy procreating and before you know it, you’ll have a serious flea infestation problem to deal with.
The sooner you eradicate the few fleas your cat has, the better life will be for everyone living in your home.
9 Best Flea Treatment for Cats
Ready to get started? Read on to find out the best cat flea treatment options, how they work and how they stack up!
WARNING: A quick warning on using dog flea products on cats – please don’t do it before you check to make sure that it is safe for cats. Certain pesticides that are fine for dogs can be toxic to cats.
For example, any flea product containing permethrin is highly toxic to cats and should be avoided!
Flea Comb for Cats
The good old flea comb is not just one of the best cat flea treatments – it’s a must have for all cat owners. This low-cost, low-tech and completely natural tool helps you throughout the entire flea-ridding process, from identifying fleas to killing them.
- 100% natural and non-toxic
- Very affordable and effective
- Time consuming and labor intensive, requires consistency
- Removes – not kills – fleas
- Not enough by itself, best used alongside other flea treatments
Trust us when we say that this trusty little comb will become your best friend in your fight against fleas and get one.
Just keep in mind that although the flea comb can be used by itself, it’s best when used alongside other flea treatments for cats like flea shampoos, powders or sprays.
Oh, and of course, get ready to put in some work ’cause the main downside of this particular flea product is that it isn’t a “set-and-forget” sort of treatment. It’ll require consistency and patience on your part.
Flea Shampoo for Cats
Yes, yes, we know – we don’t love the idea of dunking our cats in water (or the hell that will follow for us), but a good flea shampoo for cats is one of the easiest ways to effectively wipe out a sizable chunk of the flea population currently inhabiting your poor cat’s fur.
- Works fast and provides immediate relief
- Very affordable
- Easy to use
- Can kill fleas in all life stages
- Won’t kill 100% of the flea infestation on your cat
- Bathing cats can be unpleasant
They may not appreciate you and your little bottle of flea shampoo when getting in the tub, but they’ll feel much better afterwards.
The biggest perk of this flea treatment? Any of the best flea shampoos for cats will kill off around 90% of the fleas on your cat – some flea shampoos even target pre-adult fleas, which is great news since flea eggs, larvae and pupae make up the majority of a flea infestation.
The downsides of a flea shampoo for cats? The obvious: most cats won’t like it. Still, if you can pull it off, it should be one of the first things you do for a flea-ridden cat. So either grab one of the top 3 fleas shampoos or make your own with Dawn dish soap. Follow every flea bath with a thorough flea comb session to remove any fleas that might’ve escaped.
Flea Spray for Cats
If the thought of bathing your cat fills you with dread, flea spray makes a great alternative to flea shampoo. This way, you get all the flea killing benefits without the hassle of water.
- Works fast and provides immediate relief
- Affordable and easy to use – no water required!
- Kills fleas in all life stages
- Is a topical application with risk of being licked off and ingested
The best flea spray for cats is Adams Plus Flea & Tick Spray as it’s the most effective and it kills both adult fleas as well as pre-adults, breaking the entire flea life cycle. The obvious perk of flea sprays is that there’s no water required. So if you have an especially fussy cat, it grants you the option of skipping the bath altogether.
But it also comes with a drawback – because it’s a topical, stay-on application, it can be licked off and ingested by your cat during her grooming sessions. So if you do decide to go this route, be careful how you apply it and keep a close eye on your kitty.
When applying, it’s best to spray it onto a paper towel rather than directly on your cat and then wipe your kitty down with the solution. You don’t need anywhere near the recommended dosage – gently rub the solution from the tail to the neck with maybe a little dab on the top of the head.
The fleas that are not killed instantly will try to escape so it’s a good idea to go over your cat’s fur with a flea comb to manually massacre the remaining fleas.
Flea Powder for Cats
Yet another alternative to both flea shampoos and sprays is flea powder for cats. Flea powders essentially contain similar flea-killing pesticides as the shampoos and sprays but are in powder form. The main perk of flea powder over shampoo and spray? They’re the most affordable.
- Effective for killing fleas
- Cheaper than most other options
- Can use on pets and around the house, i.e. on carpets
- Cats can lick off and ingest the powder
- Only kills adult fleas, not flea eggs, larvae or pupae
- Powder can irritate cats with allergies
Powders can also be convenient since they allow for easy application – just shake it right into your cat’s fur – and are multipurpose so you can also use it to kill fleas in the carpet, your pet’s bedding, as well as the vacuum bag.
All that being said, flea powder is the least recommended choice simply because the powder form can irritate cats with allergies and dry out your cat’s skin. The biggest concern, though, is the fact that it is topical and can be licked off and ingested by your cat during her grooming sessions.
Oral Flea Pills for Cats
The first thing you should know is that oral flea pills are the fastest way to get rid of fleas on your cat. They start working immediately and just one pill will kill almost all adult fleas living on your cat within a few hours, letting you accomplish in a few short hours something that normally takes a week or two to achieve.
- Works extremely quickly, providing immediate relief
- Super easy to use
- Can’t be licked off like topical applications
- Only kills adult fleas
- Is a one-time treatment that does not prevent new fleas
That being said, the next thing you should know is that flea pills for cats are NOT a cure-all or preventative treatment. These are intended to quickly and effectively wipe out a flea infestation that’s driving your cat absolutely insane.
Here’s a quick example of when to use pills as a flea treatment: If you find yourself faced with a sudden, severe flea infestation that’s robbing your cat of sleep and peace, making your cat viciously scratch and chew herself, and you’re worried that your poor cat is being tortured to insanity – a flea pill is the fastest way to get immediate relief.
But again, flea pills are not a permanent solution by any means. Pills only kill the fleas for a day and will not prevent re-infestation. So use it to quickly wipe out fleas that are currently torturing your cat but make sure to combine it with other flea treatments that may not be as instantaneous but last longer.
Flea Drops for Cats
Flea drops are a controversial cat flea treatment. On one hand, they’re super effective and low-maintenance. Just one treatment – which simply involves applying the liquid vial to your cat’s fur – kills fleas within around 12 hours and prevents re-infestation for several months, making it a great option to get rid of fleas on your cat for good.
- Kills 100% of fleas
- Kills fleas in all life stages
- Is preventative and each application keeps fleas off for 30 days
- Works pretty quickly
- Can be pricey, especially since the applications are monthly
- Topical treatment that can get on your skin
Even better, flea drops don’t just kill adult fleas – they wipe out pre-adult fleas like eggs and larvae which make up the majority of flea infestations. Add to all this the fact that these treatments are easy-to-use, waterproof and highly effective, and you begin to understand why this is one of the most popular flea meds for cats.
But it’s not all roses and dead fleas – flea drops for cats come with downsides. For starters, they do contain potent pesticides. That’s what makes them so effective, after all. And because cats are smaller than dogs and more sensitive to pesticides, some cats can experience adverse reactions to these flea drops, including hair loss, vomiting and even seizures.
We always recommend monitoring your cat very closely for signs of toxicity when administering flea drops – or any other form of pesticide – and be especially wary about using flea drops on cats who are very young, old, or have weak immune systems as they are at higher risk of toxicity.
All that being said, if your cat is overall healthy and suffering from a flea infestation, flea drops are the most effective treatment to kill fleas in all life stages – and keep them off.
Flea Collars for Cats
Flea drops for cats are long-lasting and highly effective but they can add up pretty quickly, especially since you’re re-applying every 30 days. On the other hand, flea collars offer an easy, affordable solution that can provide up to 8 months of flea-killing protection.
- Provides long-lasting protection – one collar lasts up to 8 months
- Extremely convenient to use, just activate and strap on
- Effective and affordable, since a single collar can last 8 months
- Doesn’t kill pre-adult fleas like eggs, larvae and pupae
- Can cause irritation and adverse reactions
- Doesn’t work immediately, can take weeks to kill off severe flea infestations
The best flea collars for cats are also waterproof and feature a quick release mechanism, which is useful for curious kitties who often get themselves in tight spots. The most effective ones gradually spread active ingredients along your cat’s body through the oils on his fur and skin, making him essentially flea-proof.
There are downsides, of course. For starters, collars aren’t as fast-acting as many of the above flea treatments. For a severe flea infestation, it can take a few weeks to kill off the majority of fleas. Another thing you should keep in mind is that this is a potent pesticide-containing product and as such, it can cause a bad reaction.
This is true for any new flea treatment – each cat has different sensitivities and there’s no way of knowing how they’ll react so make sure you are at home to actively monitor your cat for any adverse side effects when you first strap the collar on.
As long as your cat isn’t sensitive to it and you keep a watchful eye, flea collars for cats do work and are an overall convenient, affordable method of long-term flea control.
Natural Flea Killer for Cats
You love your cat and the last thing you want to do is overwhelm your poor kitty with harmful toxins. But going the natural route is not as simple as spraying your cat with apple cider vinegar.
Most of the natural flea remedies you’ll find on the Internet are more effective as flea repellents but prevention is a whole different matter than dealing with a full-on flea infestation.
- 100% natural and non-toxic
- Very affordable
- Requires consistency and effort
- Does not work right away, takes time
- May not be enough on its own for severe infestations
Add to that the fact that some natural flea remedies are safe for use on dogs but can be toxic for cats and you’re left with few choices. That being said, combine these few natural flea killers that are totally non-toxic and safe for cats and you have an effective, holistic battle plan strong enough to defeat those pesky fleas…all without any chemicals. Check out the most effective natural flea killers for cats!
Flea Dip for Cats
Flea dips are pretty controversial and not typically used anymore because of health concerns and because there are so many other, better options to be had. We don’t recommend flea dips for cats because it’s a concentrated chemical that you dilute in water and then apply to your cat’s fur.
- Works fast, can knock out a flea infestation quickly
- Long lasting, one treatment can be effective up to 30 days
- Concentrated form of pesticides which can be way too strong for cats
It’s not like a shampoo bath that you rinse off your cat – it’s a concentrated, potent chemical product that you apply on your cat and leave on, which increases the likelihood of your cat licking and ingesting the pesticides while grooming herself.
Add to that the fact that the concentration of pesticides used in flea dip puts cats at greater risk of adverse side effects and we have to give flea dips for cats a strong PASS. Choose one of the better methods above as a flea treatment for your cat.