Flea Control

By Dr. Aimee Castor

City Cat Mobile Vet Service


Fleas are the most common cause of skin problems in cats. Some cats are so sensitive to fleas that one bite may cause a serious problem and extensive skin damage. Not being able to find fleas on your cat does not necessarily mean that they are not present. Itchy cats, due to their constant obsessive grooming, will remove most fleas on their own.
The Flea Life Cycle:
In order to effectively treat your cat for fleas you must understand the flea life cycle. There are four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Fleas lay eggs on the cat (approximately 20 to 50 per day), and in turn, these eggs fall off in the environment. The eggs hatch into larvae, which seek out hiding places such as cracks in the floor and carpet fibers. They then spin small cocoons, in which they remain for 2 weeks to 6 months before hatching into adult fleas. This stage is called the pupae stage and is resistant to all insecticides. So in other words, regardless if you treat your cat and the environment, you will still have fleas hatching out for the next 6 months.
Flea Control on Your Cat:
The best flea preventative products are Advantage, Frontline, and Revolution. All 3 of these products are spot on flea control and very effective. The only time they fail to work is when they have not been applied correctly or often enough, when the environment is infested with fleas and has not been treated properly. Make sure to keep on top of the flea control and mark it on your calendar so that you do not forget. If you need to shampoo your cat, do it 24 hours before applying the flea control because shampooing after applying flea control decreases effectiveness. Do not waste your time with ineffective flea control products such as flea shampoo and flea collars and stay away from generic flea products such as Control, Biospot, or Zodiac because they have not proven to be effective and, in addition, have caused seizuring and death in cats.
  • Advantage: effective against fleas
  • Frontline: effective against fleas and ticks
  • Revolution: effective against fleas, ticks, heart worm, ear mites, and intestinal parasites
  • Activyl: effective against fleas
Flea Control in the Environment:
Launder your cat’s bedding.

Vacuum your carpet before treating the house because vibrations from the vacuum will stimulate the pupae to hatch. Make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag properly after vacuuming because it can also be a source of fleas.

Use an area spray with insect growth regulators in the house such as Siphotrol or Knockout. Spray the entire floor, including carpeted and uncarpeted areas, under furniture, and furniture itself. This procedure must be repeated again in 2 weeks because area spray has little residual effect.

Boric acid products such as Borax laundry detergent, Terminator, or Flea Busters may be used on carpeting and upholstery to desiccate flea larvae and has a residual effect of up to 1 year. To treat an area with Borax, sprinkle it on the carpet and furniture and then sweep it with a broom to settle the Borax into the carpet and then, vacuum the residual powder up immediately because if your cat gets a large amount of it on his or her feet and licks it off, it is potentially toxic.

If your cat spends a lot of time outside in certain areas it is also important to spray those particular areas using an outside spray containing insect growth regulator such as Fenoxycarb.

Mow grass, keep weeds down, and trim shrubs.


It is difficult to provide adequate flea control for kittens less than eight weeks of age but it is important because a large amount of fleas may cause considerable blood loss and eventually lead to death. Flea combing the kitten may help but speak to your veterinarian regarding further flea control.

Allergic Cats:

Allergic cats should be on flea preventative all year around. All other animals in the household and the environment should be treated as well. Talk to your veterinarian about further recommendations for allergic cats.