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Six of the best ways to get rid of fleas on your cat

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When your cat has fleas they can cause misery for you, your cat and anyone who sits on your sofa. Fortunately, there are plenty of practical measures you can take to save your pet and your home from these irritating pests, starting with an effective flea treatment for cats.

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Cat laying on rug. Just 5 per cent of fleas live on your cat, the rest are hidden around your home

The adult fleas you spot on your cat represent only around five per cent of the total number already living in your house.1 Flea eggs, larvae and pupae are likely living in the environment, scattered over carpets, upholstery, bedding, and just about everywhere else in and around the home.

Fleas breed quickly, so a flea infestation can rapidly take over your life. Fleas can easily get out of hand if you don’t move fast to rid your cat and home of these stubborn parasites.

Follow these six steps to get rid of cat fleas and prevent them from moving back in.

1. Start with the right flea treatment for your cat

Treating your cat is always the first step in beating a flea infestation. And if you use an effective preventative product regularly, you’re unlikely to have a problem in the first place.

There are lots of different flea treatments available. Read on to find out which ones may be best suited to your furry friend and remember, you can always ask your vet for their recommendations.

  • Flea spot-ons

Spot-on flea treatments are easy to use and they can provide an effective way to remove fleas on your cat and protect them from fleas in the first place.

How spot-on flea treatments work can vary. Advantage for cats is a monthly spot-on which owners simply drop onto the skin on the back of the cat’s neck at the base of the skull. It then releases the active ingredient throughout your cat’s skin to protect their body from nose to tail for up to 28 days. Advantage kills fleas through contact so they don’t have to bite your pet to be killed. 2 This helps prevent cats suffering the irritation of flea bites, and it can provide relief for cats who are affected by flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), a skin allergy caused by flea saliva.

Fleas can cause serious skin disease in cats, so if your cat has patchy fur, sore skin, or seems generally unwell then ask your vet to check them over.

Remember, your cat will only be fully protected from fleas with a regular, consistent flea control programme. It can help to make a note of the date you gave the first dose, so you know when to retreat. Advantage for cats should be used at least every four weeks. You will need to choose the right product for your cat’s age and weight, which you can purchase without prescription from pet stores nationwide as well as from many online pet stores.

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Spot-on flea treatments for cats are applied to the base of your pet’s skull to effectively kill fleas
  • Flea collars

Flea collars have moved on technologically, as newer models offer an effective and easy way of treating flea infestations.

Seresto Flea and Tick Control collar protects your cat for up to eight months in a single application. The collar releases its active ingredients at a slow and steady rate. It’s able to kill fleas and ticks through contact, no biting required. 3

  • Flea tablets

It is possible to administer flea treatment as a tablet. The active ingredients in flea tablets are active in the bloodstream, requiring fleas to bite the pet before they are killed.

  • Flea combs

Flea combs can’t be relied upon as an effective flea treatment or a preventative but they can be a useful way to check your pet for fleas. Fleas are so tiny they can be hard to spot on your pet with the naked eye. Flea combs enable you to investigate their fur in detail.

To use it, comb through your pet’s fur while they’re on a clean white surface, any black dots that show up could be fleas or flea poop (known as flea dirt).

  • Flea powders

Flea powders are not a long-term solution to an infestation. Once your pet has shaken it off, it’s no longer active.

2. Clean your pet’s bedding

You can vacuum your pet’s bedding but it’s better to wash it at the hottest

temperature the material can take to kill fleas, or any flea eggs hiding in there. Tumble- drying on the highest temperature that the fabric can withstand will also help.

3. Wash everything else

Strip all beds, take the covers off cushions and wash and dry them in as hot a temperature as possible. The same applies to your clothes and other laundry, which may have been exposed to your flea problem (it’s usually when you’re faced with nuking your favourite sweater that you really start to hate fleas!).

4. Vacuum, vacuum again and then vacuum a bit more

To get rid of cat fleas in the home you need to vacuum all carpets and soft furnishings, like sofas, every other day for at least three weeks. Bad infestations may take longer. Pay attention to cracks in skirting boards, corners of the room and behind beds – areas where the eggs and larvae tend to lurk. You may also find flea dirt (the black specks of flea faeces) here, which may be acting as a food source for juvenile fleas.

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Woman vacuuming under a rug to help tackle a flea infestation.
5. Clean your vacuum

Eggs can get caught in the vacuum cleaner and may hang around in the bag or the cyclone for months. Empty the machine thoroughly, and if you’re using a bagless vacuum, clean any washable parts with hot water.

6. Spray or fog your home

After your initial vacuuming session, use an anti-flea household spray in every room to kill any adult fleas and larvae the vacuum might have missed. It’s worth taking time to do this thoroughly, treating all the rooms in the house, the car, under the bed and on the sofa.

Follow the instructions on the packaging about dosage and frequency, and make sure you keep your pet and your family away while the product is at work.

You may need to do a top-up treatment to catch any eggs that haven’t hatched yet.

Foggers and flea bombs offer a way to cover a large area of the home at once, but it’s important to be aware that you may need to use a spray to catch areas the fogger hasn’t been able to reach, such as under furniture.  

 Find out which other flea hotspots you need to be aware of in your home.

Preventing fleas after you’ve tackled an infestation

Getting rid of fleas once an infestation has taken hold can be difficult and time-consuming, taking weeks to be free from fleas.

Fleas are not just an itchy irritation for your cat, they can also carry diseases, and they’re quite happy to bite you or your family as well as your pets.

To get rid of them for good, you need to prevent fleas from arriving in your home in the first place with an effective flea treatment.  

Find out more about Advantage spot-on treatment now and make fleas one less thing to worry about.

References:

1 RSPCA, How to get rid of fleas: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/general/fleas

2 This information is regarding mode of action and is not intended to imply fleas can be completely stopped from biting; Mehlhorn et al. Parasitol Res (2001) 87: 198-208

3  information is regarding mode of action and is not intended to imply parasites can be completely stopped from biting; an attachment of single ticks after treatment cannot be excluded