How Do You Control Fleas on Kittens?

Updated on July 31, 2019
LCDWriter profile image

I have rescued and fostered many pets over the years. Keeping my pets healthy and happy is my number one priority.

Kittens and fleas are not a fun combination, but there is something that you can do about it.
Kittens and fleas are not a fun combination, but there is something that you can do about it. | Source

Throughout the spring and into the summer is known as kitten season to many animal rescues and city shelters. As the weather starts heating up, the number of abandoned or stray litters increases as well.

Many shelters seek help from volunteers and foster families to help take care of the kittens until they reach an age and weight where they can be spayed and neutered, given vaccinations and then be put up for adoption.

These young kittens can be a lot of fun to foster as they grow and learn, and it is a very rewarding experience. However, with this fostering can come some issues—including fleas.

Kittens under two pounds are usually not given flea prevention as it can be too hard on their system. But they very often still come in with fleas, especially if they are strays or were found outside.

But since nursing mamas and kittens should not be treated with flea prevention, are there other ways to combat fleas and keep them all healthy and happy?

Luckily the answer is yes, and it is relatively easy to do and economical.

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Kittens

As always, you should talk with your vet if the kitten is yours or talk to your rescue organization or shelter if you are fostering a very young kitten. Different rescue groups may have different rules for fostering.

Generally kittens under two pounds and nursing mamas should not be given flea prevention (such Revolution or Advantage).

Instead a simple bath, some vacuuming, changing and washing bedding and, for good measure, flea combing can help to get rid of those pesky pests.

Get Rid of Kitten Fleas

(click column header to sort results)
Order of Steps  
Equipment Needed  
What To Do  
Original Dawn Dish Washing Soap (Blue)*
Using a sink or small tub with warm water, gently wash the kitten. You will notice fleas coming off and dead ones coming off in the water.
You may want to use some garden gloves as they will try to fight their way out of the water. Also a cup nearby to pour fresh water on them for rinsing may help. Be careful not get soap in their eyes and carefully rinse around ears and mouth so that water doesn't get into them.
Two Dry Towels
Gently wrap the wet kitten in the dry towel. Save the other towel for bedding.
The kitten will enjoy feeling the towel and the warmth. Have someone else hold them while you prepare their bedding.
Heating Pad
Turn the heating pad onto the lowest setting. Wrap the towel around the heating so that one layer is surrounding the heating pad.
It is important that the heating pad supplies warmth but not be too hot, especially if the kitten is orphaned or does not have litter mates to snuggle with.
Basket or Pet Crate
Place the towel wrapped heating pad in a basket or carrying crate and set the kitten on it. He or she will likely be tired from this experience and ready for a nap.
Kittens may feel safer if they have somewhere that they can "hide" or somewhere they can snuggle as they recover from the ordeal of their bath.
Everything Above
Repeat these steps daily until no fleas are found.
Be sure to change bedding daily and vaccum or wipe down surfaces to discourage fleas and remove flea eggs.
Get rid of kitten fleas cheaply!

Video Tutorial on Washing A Kitten

Why Does It Have To Be Dawn Dish Detergent?

While there is some debate online about whether it has to be Dawn or if some other detergent will work, anecdotal evidence from those that work closely in rescue of animals indicate good results with Dawn.

Dawn is also the detergent that is used when wildlife gets caught up in oil spills and needs to be washed before being rehabilitated or re-released in the wild. It is gentle and safe to use on very young kittens.

From my own experience, my own foster kitten showed great results with Dawn. On the first day she had upwards of ten fleas come off of her during the bathing process. The next day I bathed her again and there were five. The next day there were two. I bathed her two more days and found no fleas. I continued to change her bedding every day.

I also used a flea comb to help get rid of any that made their way back onto her after bathing.

Flea Combs Can Also Help Speed Up the Process

If you don't have too many kittens at once or have time, a flea comb can really help to discourage and get rid of the fleas.

I would flea comb her after her bath, before placing her on the heating pad wrapped in the towel. I would also try to flea comb her once she had dried. When I did this I had a small bowl of water with a drop of Dawn in it. I would use that to place any fleas I found in the soapy water (so they can't escape) and clean the comb. Flea eggs will cling to the flea comb as well which is a plus.

You can simply use the comb as you would any pet brush. I had especially good luck brushing her tail as it seems that some fleas had taken refuge there. As soon as they came up on the comb, I dipped it into the soapy water.

Note: Be sure that water with fleas is washed down the drain thoroughly. This way, if the fleas do revive, they will be long gone in the sewer line or septic tank.

Also Great For Older Animals With Allergies

There are so many great flea preventatives on the market. No animal in modern times needs to have fleas. However, some animals end up developing allergies or intolerances to many of the flea preventatives.

These intolerances can be to both the topical and oral flea medication.

If your animal is very sensitive, washing them in Dawn and using a flea comb may be a viable alternative. While it may not have as good of an outcome, long term, as something stronger, it will still cut down on your pet's suffering and help you manage the fleas.

Don't Let Fleas Get The Best Of Your Kitten

Fostering and taking care of very young kittens can be fun and rewarding. Many animal lovers who do help foster kittens also have pets of their own. So they are not likely to want to start a flea infestation in their home, just for doing a good deed.

It's always a good idea to make sure any current pets are on monthly flea prevention.

With a few days of work and diligence, your young kittens will feel better and will be flea-free.

Have you ever taken care of a young kitten or nursing mama that could not use flea preventative?

See results

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.

© 2016 L C David


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      This is great information, LCD. If you can start bathing kittens when they're young, they'll be easier to bathe when they're older. I think my three would have a feline revolt if I tried to bathe them now. I did have a cat once upon a time ago who loved baths.

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for this great information. Boy that Dawn really is a great thing for dishes and animals!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)