How to Get Rid of Fleas in the House and on Your Cat - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
Updated date:

How to Get Rid of Fleas in the House and on Your Cat

Author:

Laura is an avid pet lover. She is an advocate for pet adoption and senior pets. She has multiple cats and a sweet old lady poodle mix.

Fleas can be an annoying problem for you and your cat.

Fleas can be an annoying problem for you and your cat.

Fleas and ticks aren’t just a summer problem and they aren’t just on outdoor cats. Living in a southern state, I recently had to deal with an infestation on my indoor cats. Don’t let fleas and ticks get out of hand.

Here’s how you can keep your cat protected or help him or her to get rid of fleas economically and effectively. If you are looking for a prescription product that works even more quickly than the ones reviewed in this article, try Comfortis flea pills.

Over-the-Counter Product Reviews

There are plenty of new flea-fighting products you can get through your vet’s office, but I first want to review some of the products that used to be prescription that you can now buy at your local pet supply store or through Amazon

Advantage II

I like this product because it tends to have the least allergic reactions among more sensitive animals. It is the only product my 15-year-old Siamese can use without losing fur at the application site. It is also safe enough to apply once a week if you are dealing with a flea infestation.

Advantage II has an insecticide to kill the current fleas and it has a growth inhibitor to keep the newly hatched fleas from growing up and becoming new ones.

When I discovered that my cats had fleas, I started treating with Advantage II. This got rid of most of the fleas but I could still see find some fleas on my cats, especially a longer-haired cat that I had. So I researched and found another great, over-the-counter way to try to break up the life cycle.

Capstar

Capstar is a pill product/oral treatment that kills all adult fleas on your cat for 24 hours. The great thing about this pill is that is can be used in conjunction with other topical flea medications without any problems.

So I began dosing my long-haired cat with the Capstar pills every few days. I also gave everyone one of the pills initially. The key is to break the life cycle of the fleas and give the other product a chance to start working.

These pills are tiny and relatively easy to give your cat. Some even crush them up in a small amount of food and make sure the cat eats it all. Everyone from my senior cats down to a two year old took the pill with no problem.

Comfortis Has Been Approved for Cats!

There may now be something even better than Capstar. I just came from my vet's office today. They now have Comfortis dosing for cats.

Comfortis is a flea pill that lasts for 30 days. Previously they were only for dogs but they now have cat weights and doses. So if you are still having trouble, you might want to try this pill.

How I Give Comfortis Pills to My Cat

  1. The pills are large, so I crushed one up into small bits and put it into canned food.
  2. I then hand-fed the canned food to my cat by putting it on my finger and then putting it on the inside roof of his mouth.

This cat is the one that none of the topicals worked on. Just a few hours later, he is now flea-free! I highly recommend trying this if you are having trouble getting rid of fleas.

Cheap Flea Products That Don't Need a Prescription

Note: Comfortis was just approved for use in cats in 2013.

Advantage IICapstar

Kills fleas and flea eggs

Kills adult fleas

Can be used every 7 days when needed

Can be used daily on cats over two pounds

Topical application

Oral pill

Treating the House for Fleas

If you have a flea infestation, you will want to treat the house in some manner since flea eggs, once they are laid on your cat, can fall off and get into the carpet and upholstery.

My vet’s office recommended that I spray the baseboards with a flea insecticide and then treat all the carpets and upholstery with boric acid powder. You are supposed to leave the powder on for at least 24 hours and then vacuum it up.

I was hesitant to do this because of a child with asthma. So, instead, I washed all the bedding, took the couch apart and washed it and vacuumed with my Dyson every single day. These are all places where my cats hang out. I took the canister out of the house and emptied it in a plastic grocery bag and immediately threw it in the trash bins that are outside.

Getting rid of fleas will make you and your cats happy once again.

Getting rid of fleas will make you and your cats happy once again.

Success With Removing Fleas From My Household

The fleas are definitely on the way out. I’m still treating my cats once a week with Advantage II and then I plan to back off to once every two weeks and then once every three weeks until I get back to once monthly.

You may be able to get rid of fleas faster but I tend to be hesitant about using too many insecticide products in the house so I plan to keep that solution in reserve as a last resort. I also am trying to not use any other products that might react with my more sensitive cat or my child.

Advantage II can help to treat the environment too because, as a treated animal sheds fur, the product is strong enough to affect fleas and flea eggs in the environment.

My Technique for Managing Fleas

I am alternating Capstar every other day in my cats. There are only a few fleas that fall off when I give the Capstar.

I continue to vacuum every day. Vacuuming can initially "wake up" the fleas so you may see a surge. This is a good thing though because it gets them all up and exposed to the insecticides. This battle may go on for several more weeks.

Secondary Flea Prevention Steps

I bought a flea comb and combed all my cats. The only one where I found evidence of fleas, eggs and cocoons was my long-haired cat. So I've determined he is the source of the problem.

I have treated everybody with Advantage II again (this has been three weeks where I"m treating once a week) and continue to give the long-haired cat Capstar once a day to every other day.

I vacuum every day and wash the bedding every other day. I have seen no fleas in the environment and very few live ones on cats. The live ones I have seen were obviously sick and easy to catch. Doing all of this does work. It just takes persistence and patience.

Update Since the Treatment

I'm seeing very few fleas and the ones I see are dead. The continuous Advantage II treatment and the Capstar really seem to be getting my infestation under control. My cats seem happier, less anxious and definitely less itchy. Getting rid of fleas is not an overnight process but it can be done.

Deworming Your Cats Regularly

Once you have the flea problem under control, you will want to get a dewormer for all your cats. Since cats groom regularly, it is likely that they will ingest at least a few fleas that can cause your cat to get intestinal worms.

Outdoor Cats and Ticks

If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, you may be dealing with ticks as well. While the package isn’t labeled this way, some pet owners have noted that Advantage II actually seems to have some effect on ticks in cats.

Frontline Plus also has tick protection so you might try that one instead. Ultimately, you may have to use a product at your vet’s office for treatment of ticks or try a flea and tick collar.

What About Cheaper Products?

Advantage II seems to be the cheapest product that actually does work. You are most likely wasting your money if you try the cheaper over-the-counter flea products. Both Advantage and Frontline are readily available at most pet stores. If your problem seems to be beyond what you can deal with, consider visiting a vet for a stronger prescription product.

Why Flea Prevention Is Critical

It is important to be proactive about flea protection. Treat your cat monthly with a product, even if he or she lives indoors. If you do get an infestation, remember that it may take several weeks to completely rid your cats and your home of fleas since you're dealing with the flea’s life cycle. Diligence and patience are the keys to success.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: I have a cat that is hiding due to the fleas and won’t let anyone near her. How do I get her out to treat her? She runs as soon as I get anywhere close.

Answer: I have a cat just like this. He was feral when I took him in and somehow he knows when I reach for the box of flea medications. So what I do is to wait until he is out in the main part of the house and close all doors and escape routes. Eventually, he runs into my laundry room and behind the washer. From there I can close the laundry room door and get him. The other thing you can do is to put out their favorite food and be ready to grab them when they come. If you can put the food out in a bathroom or somewhere where you can close the door, then you can treat them.

Question: If you apply Advantage, how long should you wait to bath cat?

Answer: I've always heard that it is at least two days. I usually try to wait three or four days if I need to bathe the animal

Got tips for getting rid of fleas and ticks? Leave your thoughts and ideas here!

L C David (author) from Florida on November 04, 2016:

I think everything has its risks and benefits. If that works for you then that's great. In some climates that does not tend to be enough to get rid of the fleas for good.

Shi on October 27, 2016:

I took in a stray and ended up with a flea infestation. I used Food grade diatomaceous earth. I have young grandchildren and did not want to use insecticides or any poisons. The food grade can be used on almost all animals, lightly dusted on all carpets and floors let set two hours, than vacuum. A teaspoon can be added to the pet's food to rid them of any parasites. The food grade DE can be consumed and is great for people as well. Also dust the cats once a week being careful not to stir up dust. It works great and does not harm the animals if they lick it. Have not had any flea problems since. I had to shop around for the Food Grade as most stores only sell the regular which is not as good for my needs.... it works but is toxic if consumed. Why not get Food Grade and be safe.

L C David (author) from Florida on May 11, 2013:

I have had a time with fleas over the past few months but they are now all dying immediately upon hitting the cats. So I just have to get through the flea cycle and I think we will be done.

I'm also taking my dog out to a different place to go to the bathroom because I think the squirrels and raccoons have infested our back yard with fleas and he picks them up and brings them in.

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on May 11, 2013:

Wow - that flea picture is one ugly creature! Ewww! I don't have cats at this time, but I do love them, and I remember we sometimes had flea issues. It's really helpful to know how we can help our kitties but not harm them or the environment when we tackle those pests!