Fleas are a persistent pest that can cause severe irritation and seem like they never stop spreading. When your cat catches fleas it is important to find a solution to stop them in their tracks. Many times, harsh chemicals are used to stop fleas however these chemicals can further irritate your cat and even cause an allergic reaction. With the help of home remedies for fleas on cats, you can gently soothe your cat’s symptoms and stop fleas in their tracks.
Fleas can be found in any home or yard, at any time of the year, regardless if pets are present or not. This is because of the flea’s tenacious survival instinct. Fleas are capable of lying dormant through the cold and can do so for several months. Throughout the time the fleas are lying dormant, they are waiting for two things to happen- optimal breeding conditions and/or a suitable ‘meal’ to walk past.
Optimal conditions for fleas to breed include heat and humidity. Perfect climates such as those found in Southern regions of the United States are favoured by fleas and fleas are often seen year round in these areas. In other areas, fleas are most commonly seen in the summer months.
Fleas can be identified by their black/dark brown color and small size. Adult fleas can be seen by the naked eye and where there is one, you can be assured there will be many more. Furthermore, fleas are known to jump from host to host in search of their next meal or breeding site. Although fleas are excellent jumpers, they cannot fly, which is a common misconception.
It is important to understand the life cycle of the flea so you can recognize stages and use remedies accordingly. The life cycle of the flea is as follows:
The life cycle of the flea
The amount of time it takes for a life cycle to complete depends on the environment as well as available hosts. If all conditions are met a cycle can be completed within two weeks. While it is typical for the cycle to be about two weeks, sometimes it can take up to four weeks for a complete life cycle to occur.
The life cycle of the flea begins when an adult female lays eggs. She will lay eggs on the host and will lay up to three times each day with as many as twenty to thirty eggs in each lay. While the adult female is laying her eggs, she will feed on the host by biting them and sucking the blood. Over the entire life span of a single adult female flea, which is about two weeks, several hundred eggs will be laid. The overwhelming amount of eggs produced during this time is one of the main causes of flea infestations.
Once the eggs have been laid, they will begin to develop on that spot. After a few days they will hatch into the larvae and begin to feed on whatever suitable food source is nearby. This includes dead skin cells, organic matter, and/or the blood-rich feces of the adult fleas.
The following stage of the life cycle is when the larvae will form a cocoon to pupate. This part of the cycle will occur after the larvae have moulted two times. Once the adolescent fleas are in their cocoons, they will remain there until the environmental conditions are just right. The cocoons can sense carbon dioxide exhales, vibrations, as well as warm temperatures. These are all signs that a host is nearby and the combination of the three will trigger the hatching of adult fleas.
The newly hatched adult fleas can jump onto a host right away. This will further promote the flea life cycle which is another reason why fleas are known to be such stubborn pests. Due to the persistence of this parasite, it is essential to use more than one home remedy for fleas. Using a combination of herbal remedies will fully break the cycle by killing any existing fleas and eggs, as well as prevent the fleas from coming back.
Signs and Symptoms
There are several signs and symptoms cat owners should be aware of when it comes to recognizing a flea infestation.
- A non-stop urge to scratch
- Redness of the skin
- Seeing flea ‘dirt’ on the base of the tail, shoulder, or jaw (This is one of the first major signs of fleas. Flea dirt is the blood filled feces of any present adult fleas. The small, dark spots will appear to be like specks of dirt or coffee grounds and are usually found at the base of the tail)
- Dry skin
- Fresh and/or dried blood seen on the skin or fur
Usually, your cat will exhibit nearly all of the signs and symptoms listed above if they have caught fleas.
Once you have identified fleas on your cat, it is essential to begin treatment right away. Starting a treatment regime will help kill the adult fleas and eggs, therefore breaking the life cycle of the fleas which will help prevent them from returning.
1. Cleaning the Home
Keeping your home spick and span is an easy, yet highly important, way to keep fleas away. When you vacuum the home, especially if you have carpet, you will interrupt the life cycle of the flea by killing any adult fleas, eggs, and larvae found in the carpets, draperies, pet beddings, or furniture.
- Vacuum your home daily.
- Pay attention to high traffic areas and areas where your cat lays frequently.
- Throw away vacuum bags often or clean your vacuum often to prevent fleas from lying dormant inside.
2. Using a Flea Comb
A simple flea comb will help to remove any eggs, larvae, and adult fleas present on your cat.
- Clean flea comb
- Cup of warm water
- Gently use the comb starting from the head and combing all the way to the base of the tail.
- After each comb, examine the flea comb and remove any fleas, eggs, or larvae that have been picked up by dipping the comb in the water.
- Comb your cat daily until there are no longer any fleas present.
3. Bathing Your Cat
While this home remedy is not ideal for every cat owner, since some cats are highly opposed to water, it is highly effective in fighting against fleas. Creating a wet environment will drown the adult fleas and remove any eggs or larvae present.
- Gentle shampoo
- Bath or sink
- Warm water
- Fill the bath or sink with warm water.
- Bring your cat the bath and allow them to become wet before applying the shampoo.
- Let the shampoo remain on your cat for a few minutes before rinsing.
- Dry your cat with a towel and follow up with the use of a flea comb to remove any dead fleas.
- Repeat once every week as needed to break up the life cycle of the flea.
4. Making a Rosemary Flea Dip
A rosemary flea dip is excellent for fighting fleas, and this specific flea dip is safe for use on cats.
- 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
- Pot of boiling water
- Warm water
- Bath or sink
- Add the fresh rosemary to the boiling water and let boil for three minutes.
- Let cool and add to a bath of warm water.
- Dip your cat in this mixture and let them sit for two to four minutes.
- Rinse and dry your cat, repeating the flea dip once every other day until there are no longer any fleas present.
5. Making a Vinegar Spray
A vinegar spray is excellent for killing adult fleas on the spot. But don't worry so much about the expenses. There are flea remedies you can create at home. These solutions are not only effective but also friendly to your budget.
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 quart of warm water
- 1 large, clean spray bottle
- Add the water and the vinegar to the spray bottle.
- Gently shake to combine.
- Spray your cat gently with a mist-like spray all over the body, avoiding the face and genitals.
- Spray your cat once daily until the fleas are gone.
6. Directly Applying Salt
Ordinary table salt is an excellent way to suffocate any adult fleas on your cat and on your carpets, drapes, and/or furniture. The salt is fast acting and can be left for a few days around your home before you need to vacuum up any remaining salt and flea carcasses.
- Table Salt
- Sprinkle the salt liberally around your home paying attention to pet beddings, carpets, furniture, and drapes.
- Additionally, take a pinch of salt and directly apply it to your cat’s fur ensuring it makes contact with the surface of the skin.
- Leave the salt for two to three days before vacuuming it up.
- Repeat twice per week until the fleas are no longer present.
Notes: Sprinkling salt is not recommended for those who live in high humidity areas. This is due to the fact that the salt will absorb the moisture in the air and potentially mold.
7. Making a Flea Trap
- Dish soap
- Aluminium pie pan
- ½ cup of water
- Add a generous amount of the dish soap to the pie pan.
- Add the water and gently stir.
- Place the flea trap in a high traffic area or in an inconspicuous place where it will not be tipped over.
- Let the trap remain in place for one week.
- Monitor the trap at the end of the week and replace with a fresh trap.
- Continue placing flea traps until there are no longer any fleas seen in the trap.
8. Directly Applying an Herbal Flea Spray
An herbal flea spray is a gentle and effective way to kill any present fleas and prevent further flea development. It is important to remember many essential oils are not safe for use on cats, however, this herbal flea spray is a remedy made especially for cats and is safe for use on cats and kittens above 12 weeks.
- Clean spray bottle
- 2 cups unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. of organic dried neem leaf
- 1 tbsp. of organic dried catnip
- 1 tbsp. of organic dried lavender
- 1 tbsp. of organic dried peppermint leaf
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tbsp. of Aloe Vera gel
- 1 Mason jar
- Add the dried ingredients to the Mason jar.
- Follow up with adding the water and the apple cider vinegar.
- Gently shake and place the Mason jar in the fridge to steep for 1-2 weeks. The longer the mixture steeps, the more powerful it is in fighting fleas.
- After it has steeped, strain the mixture and add it to the spray bottle.
- Add the Aloe Vera to the spray bottle.
- Give the bottle another gentle shake and spray directly on your cat.
- Pay attention to areas that are more irritated as the Aloe Vera will help soothe the skin.
- Spray your cat once daily with this mixture until the fleas have disappeared.
Notes: Once again it is vital to ensure you do not use essential oils when creating this mixture. This special recipe is made specifically for cats and is safe for their skin and in case they ingest the mixture when they are cleaning themselves.
9. Directly Applying a Lavender Spray
Lavender is a gentle way to soothe your cat’s skin. In addition to calming the irritated skin, lavender is a powerful flea fighting agent that works quickly. As a matter of fact, lavender is one of the most powerful natural remedies used in combating flea infestations.
According to Ohio State University lavender is recommended for controlling fleas. Furthermore, a 2007 South African study found that formulas containing diluted lavender at rates of 10 to 20 percent lavender performed just as well as other flea and tick repellents when compared to artificial DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) sprays.
- 1 bunch of fresh lavender
- 1 clean spray bottle
- 1 cup of water
- 1 Mason jar
- Add the fresh lavender to the Mason jar and add the water.
- Seal the jar and let sit overnight.
- Strain the lavender from the liquid and add the liquid to the spray bottle.
- Spray your cat with this mixture and let it remain on your cat’s fur until it dries.
- Repeat daily until there are no more fleas.
10. Directly Applying a Chamomile Tea Spray
Chamomile is wonderful for soothing irritated and itchy skin. It is gentle, yet powerful, and is safe for use on cats and kittens. Loose chamomile tea is stronger, but if you cannot find it, the tea bags are just as effective.
- 1-2 cups of hot water
- 2 tbsp. of chamomile tea (or 2-3 tea bags)
- Spray bottle
- Add the tea to the hot water and let it steep for 15-30 minutes.
- Once it has fully cooled, strain the leaves from the tea or remove the tea bags and add the tea to the spray bottle.
- Directly spray your cat with the chamomile tea, paying attention to any areas that are especially irritated.
- Spray your cat once daily while it is affected by fleas.
Treating your cat with the assistance of these remedies can be an easy, yet powerful way to rid your cat and your home of fleas.
Using these remedies will provide gentle and natural ways of killing and preventing fleas without the use of harsh, irritating chemicals. All in all, these home remedies are made specifically for cats so you can be assured they are safe while at the same time highly effective.