Have you found your cat scratching more than normal?
Cats are easily irritated by external parasites like fleas, and this may result in skin allergies and a lot of scratching (due to the irritation).
These parasites spread quickly and if not stopped in the early stages can spread to other pets in your house, and also into bedding and dark warm areas of your house.
If your cat has become infested with fleas it's also likely that those fleas are now living in your home, and although they don't live on humans they do bite and cause skin irritation.
While getting a flea treatment for cats is often the best solution, there are a few factors to consider before deciding what will work effectively for your cat.
- In this article we cover different types of flea treatments for cats, such as natural flea treatments, topical flea treatments, and oral flea treatments.
There are different external parasites that affect cats and fleas are among the most common, especially in North America.
Common infections caused by fleas include cat scratch fever, plague, and anemia.
Most cat owners prefer Over The Counter (OTC) topical and oral flea treatments that are specially formulated and tested to remove and kill those pesky fleas.
We have reviewed a few popular and effective treatments below, and we also further discuss how you can spot fleas, and how to rid your pets and you house of them.
Our website is reader-supported. We research all reviewed products carefully to give you the best choices possible, and if you buy via links on our site we may earn a small commission.
Cat Flea Treatment Types
There are several treatments of fleas in cats in the market such that choosing one can be an uphill task.
Topical treatments are the most popular treatment since it is not only easy to administer to your feline, but is also effective in killing other pests apart from fleas.
Always apply the liquid at the base of your cats neck to prevent it from licking the treatment. It is recommended to use one tube of the treatment per cat. Most importantly, topical treatments are made in different sizes according to the weight of the cat.
Therefore, choose the treatment that suits your cats size. As for kittens, make sure your kitten has reached the recommended age before administering the medication to them.
Cat Flea Shampoo
I must confess that I am hesitant to bathe my furry feline, as I'm sure most of cat parents are! However bathing your cat is a good preventative method when getting rid of fleas.
There are different types of cat flea shampoos that you can choose from. Check the age recommendation for each shampoo, and remember shampoos are not advisable for use on very young kittens.
Cat Flea Collars
Cat flea collars are an effective flea treatment, easy to use, non-messy, and a perfect supplement to flea shampoos.
Collars work by emitting a constant scent that is noxious to pests, and your pet can wear them alongside regular cat collar.
If you get a top brand, they provide treatment for up to eight months - upon which its effectiveness decreases. When purchasing, remember to look out for the correct size for your kitty, and it should be specifically designed for use by cats or the kittens - not dogs.
Cat Flea Spray and powders
While sprays and powders are not considered to be highly effective flea treatments, nonetheless they are important in the holistic management of flea infestation.
Powders and sprays are applied on surfaces including rugs, bedding, floor cracks, and furniture to kill any hiding fleas in their different stages of lifecycles.
Oral drops flea medications are similar to topical formulations. The only difference is the technique used in the administration of the drug.
Topical applications entail application on your feline’s skin while for oral drops, you drop directly into your cats mouth. Despite being effective, some cats are not comfortable taking drugs orally.
Tablet formulations are the most recent innovation in pest management specifically designed to kill adult fleas.
Flea medications in tablet form contain a highly concentrated active drug that kills mature fleas in seconds. Since it is effective on adult fleas only, complement tablets with other medications that target eggs, larvae and pupae.
Best Flea Treatments for Cats - Top 5 Reviewed
1. Bayer Advantage II Flea Prevention for Cats Review
Bayer Advantage II is the best treatment for flea infestations since it kills fleas in all three of its highly vulnerable stages, namely: egg, larva, and adult.
The first active ingredient (Imidacloprid) in this product attacks the adult flea’s nervous system paralyzing and ultimately killing it normally within 12 hours of application.
Also, it is effective in killing fleas that re-infest your feline’s skin within two hours. Insect growth regulator (Pyriproxyfen) is the second active ingredient that kills fleas’ eggs and larvae that contribute about 95% of flea infestation.
The fleas do not need to bite your feline for the active ingredient to eliminate them, as they are killed on contact. Hence, very effective topical treatment for cats that are sensitive to insect bites.
Most customers recommend the product as it is highly effective and worth the price.
2. Frontline Plus for Cats and Kittens Review
Frontline Plus Flea is the most popular flea control among cat parents due to its effectiveness. Fipronil, its active ingredient works by causing hyper-excitation in the nerves of the flea leading to seizures.
Due to intense muscle contractions of the flea muscles as well as firing of the neurons, the body fails to support its neurologic functions ultimately leading to death. In addition, the product contains S-methoprene effective in killing fleas across its lifecycle.
What makes Frontline plus an excellent choice is its effectiveness in killing not only fleas but ticks and lice as well. The treatment works fast, is waterproof, has simple three step application process and lasts up to 30 days.
The six dose supply provides relief for up to six months and the treatment is purposely used among cats and kittens aged at least eight weeks.
3. Cheristin for Cats Flea Treatment Review
Cheristin is an efficient flea treatment specifically manufactured for cats. Its powerful and unique ingredient Spinetoram exhibits the mechanisms of action of both Fipronil and Imidacloprid.
The active ingredient works on the nicotinic and GABA receptors of the flea’s nervous system-+ leading to paralysis and massive seizures in the flea’s body and ultimately death.
The topical flea control is designed to kill 98-100% of fleas in 12 hours, its onset of action is just 30 minutes and continues killing fleas for up to a month upon application.
In addition to its fast action, Cheristin is very simple to apply and does not emit an offensive odor.
The treatment has low cross-reactivity with other chemicals hence it can be used alongside other insecticides. It is effective for use in cats and kittens of over eight weeks old.
However, some customers have reported some side effects such as hair loss on the applied site, vomiting, and inflammation. Thus, monitor your cat after application and in case of any side effects consult your veterinarian immediately.
4. Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats Review
With topical flea treatments, it is hard to determine if your pet’s skin has absorbed the full dose of the treatment and this is where a tablet-based flea treatment comes in.
Capstar is the best oral flea treatment for cats whose active ingredient is the Nitenpyram. The ingredient works very fast killing fleas in cats within six hours while those in dogs die in four hours’ time. Usually, the onset of action is 30 minutes, and its effect lasts for 48 hours upon which most adult fleas would have died.
The flea treatment can only be used in cats under 25 lbs, packed as a single box of six tablets and administered as a single dose. Since the drug kills specifically adult fleas, it is essential to complement with other flea treatments to realize the long-term flea control management.
Based on most customers’ reviews, the drug is effective and mostly goes hand in hand with a good flea shampoo and flea comb. Also, ensure you clean your surroundings thoroughly to prevent re-infestation and kill its eggs and larvae which Capstar cannot.
5. Catego Flea and Tick Control for Cats Review
Catego features in our best flea treatments for cats review due to its unique chemical profile that resembles that of Frontline Plus and Advantage II.
Catego contains three proven ingredients namely Fipronil, Dinotefuran, and Pyriproxyfen. Fipronil works by creating hyperexcitability in the nervous system of the fleas ultimately leading to death.
Dinotefuran inhibits the nicotinic receptors in the nervous system of the fleas leading to death.
Pyriproxyfen ingredient is an insect development inhibitor that interferes with the reproduction of fleas by altering the growth and development of eggs and larva.
Unlike other treatment products including Frontline Plus that eliminates fleas in 12 hours, Catego kills fleas within six hours of administering to your cat. It is a long lasting medicine that kills fleas across its life stages and also ticks and chewing lice in a month.
Catego contains a patented applicator that makes application of the treatment easy and reduces the chances of acquiring skin abrasion. The treatment dries fast, is non-greasy and comes in small volumes ensuring that there is no wastage.
Catego is available in 3- dose and 6-dose packs. The treatment is specially manufactured for cats aged eight weeks and older, weighing over 1.5 pounds.
Flea Treatments for Cats - Info & Buyer's Guide
Flea Infestation Signs
Cats are very playful and have moments of high activity, but become quite calm when not engaged in any activity.
So how do you notice that your fluffy friend has a flea infestation? Apart from spotting some fleas on her skin or surroundings, here are some of the red flags:
Excess grooming (evidence of bleeding or sores)
Cats do love grooming themselves mostly using their rasp-like tongue. However, when you notice them chewing or biting themselves continuously, then it's likely your little kitty cat is dealing with a flea infestation.
Excess grooming could cause development of sores that require medical attention before an infection occurs.
Food denial is an initial sign you may notice when fleas infest your cat, and they may not feel well enough to chew and swallow food.
Cats are playful pets and hardly stay calm for an entire day. If you notice that your pet does not want to play or even interact then this can be another sign.
You might want to check for the presence of fleas if you notice your cat is irritable and does not like getting bothered. Such cats will even bite you when you try to pick them or engage them in play.
How to Apply Flea Treatment to Cats (Video)
We haven't reviewed Revolution Plus (featured in this video), as it is a prescription-only medication. Vet's recommend this treatment highly and being prescription based, you will find the price is much higher than other products reviewed above.
Normally around $120 for a 6 month supply, Revolution also controls various other pests that can harm your cats health. You can see Revolution on Chewy.com for more info.
What to do Before Buying Flea Treatments for Cats
Always consult your vet
Some would argue why spend hard earned dollars seeking advice from a vet when the internet has so much free information about flea remedies?
While the internet is a good source of information, as a responsible cat parent you should seek advice from your vet always. Why do I say that? Just like human beings, every cat is unique and what works on another cat may not work for yours.
Therefore, always have a qualified vet practitioner to evaluate the cat’s physiology and health profile so as to make an informed decision on the best flea medication for your feline.
Purchase from reputable sellers
Don't just buy your pet’s medications from any seller on the market. The internet has turned the world into a small village, be vigilant when purchasing products online and only buy from trusted retailers.
Ensure that you order your product from the official website of the manufacturer. Alternatively, if your veterinarian has own pet supply outlet, it would be safer to purchase pet’s medications from his/her clinic.
Do not go cheap
Remember they say cheap is expensive. Although some of the most affordable products do exhibit the same ingredients as those perceived as expensive brands, you can never be quite certain.
While cheaper brands can still be of good quality and effectiveness, do not go to the extent of compromising the quality of the product in dealing with the flea infestation.
Follow the instructions carefully
Reading and understanding the instructions given on the flea medication product is paramount before administering to your cat. The life of your special kitty is at stake here, and you wouldn’t want to risk losing them due to ignorance.
If you do not follow the instructions provided you might endanger your life and that of your family as well. Always follow directions of use carefully.
Be on the lookout for possible reactions
Every medication has a potential side effect. Upon administering the drug on your feline, always be vigilant for a few hours for any possible occurrence of hypersensitivity. Also, acquaint yourself with effective ways of managing allergic reactions.
Know how to evaluate the drug’s effectiveness
To determine the efficacy of the drug, check the label for its promised effectiveness, and monitor your cat to ensure the treatment is working as intended..
For example, if the product guarantees a 90% kill of the fleas within 30 minutes or so, you should be able to observe that to verify its efficiency. Correct administration of the product will enhance its effectiveness.
Flea Treatments for Cats - Factors to Consider
Quick-acting and reliable
Fleas proliferate so quickly that they don't need several months to reach their reproductive capacity. Thus you may find yourself killing them today, but tomorrow you find more fleas already.
Fleas are very resilient and prolific, and that is why you not only need to use a flea control product, but also manage your environment - especially where your pet resides.
Therefore, the insect’s ability to exert its action rapidly is crucial in control and management of fleas. You wouldn’t want to use a flea product that will take a whole day before seeing the result (dead fleas).
Look for a flea product with a fast onset action, a rapid peak onset, and prolonged therapeutic effectiveness.
For example, you will be better off with a flea product that becomes effective within 30 minutes of administering, kills a large percentage of the fleas within six to eight hours, but prolongs its effectiveness for a month or even longer.
The most important factors to look out for in a flea product are its rapid onset of action, and its reliability. Also, the higher percentage of fleas it can kill within a short period the better.
Controls fleas in their various life stages
Fleas are very resilient creatures that grow so fast through their developmental stages of egg, larva, pupae and finally mature adults. Each of the life stages presents a challenge in flea management.
Their eggs are tiny and hidden in dark, moist and warm places. Within a few weeks, they hatch into larva that latches onto anything organic due to its strong mouth.
However, due to its vulnerability to heat they hid in floor cracks and deep crevices, and are difficult to trace. After a few weeks, they form a cocoon that protects it from environmental hazards.
Upon maturing they break away from the cocoon, lay eggs, and the whole process starts all over again.
Targeting mature adults will partly solve the problem. Look for a flea treatment product that manages each stage of the fleas lifecycle adequately.
For holistic management of fleas, carry out a thorough treatment of your environment as well, including your house, household belongings, and general surroundings.
Relatively safe with minimal side effects
The combination of different ingredients in flea medications has a small potential to cause clinical complaints.
Some felines are hypersensitive and could suffer from conditions such as gastric or skin irritation, or stomach upset upon administration of the medications. Therefore check with your veterinarian for any hypersensitivity before administering any flea treatment product.
While using any medication can exhibit side effects, some of flea medications can pose serious side effects on your cat if consumed. For instance, the Fipronil component in some topical flea products can cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal upsets, and even tonic-clonic seizures.
Also, the Nitenpyram component can lead to excessive panting and hyperexcitability of your cat within two hours of administration. Ensure you follow the directions carefully when using flea control products to help prevent your cat from having any unwanted side effects.
Ease of application or administration
Ease of administering the treatment is essential as far as flea management is concerned. Choosing whether to administer tablets or a topical formulation may depend on your cat, and of course any recommendations from your local veterinarian.
If your cat has thick fur, it may be difficult to tell if the skin would absorb all the topical formulation. As such, you might want to administer tablets instead.