The 6 Best Flea Treatments For Cats To Kick Fleas To The Curb
Byeee, fleas 👋
Fleas can be super itchy for your cat, and can even cause some health issues if not attended to. So it’s super important that you treat your cat with a flea preventative regularly to make sure she stays protected.
But with so many options on the market, how can you find the best one?
The best flea treatment for your cat is going to depend on a ton of different factors (so you should see your vet for a tailored recommendation). But you’ll also want to do your research and look for a product that’s both safe and effective — since not all of them are.
Here’s what you need to know before shopping for a cat flea treatment, according to veterinarians (plus their top picks!).
Types of cat flea treatments
The different types of flea treatments for cats include oral medications, topical medications, flea shampoos and flea collars.
Oral flea treatment for cats
Oral flea treatments for cats can come in the form of a pill or flavored chewable tablet and usually need to be given monthly.
Cat parents love how convenient these are since you don’t have to apply anything to the skin, unlike with topical treatments. And since the flavored chews are so tasty, your cat will definitely enjoy her dose.
Most oral flea treatments are prescription-only, so you’ll need to talk to your vet before going with an oral preventative.
Topical flea treatment for cats
Topical flea treatments also effectively kill and prevent fleas from feasting on your cat. These types of treatments are applied directly to a cat’s skin by parting the fur near the base of the skull and using a small tube applicator to apply the medication — this location is key to make sure she isn’t able to lick it off.
The gel from the applicator isn’t good for humans to touch, or for cats to eat, so avoid petting your cat for a couple of hours after application.
Like oral medications, topical flea treatments usually need to be given monthly.
And make sure the medication you’re using is for cats, not dogs, since they definitely can’t be mixed up!
“I love spot-on topical flea prevention. But it’s really important to know that they are not all the same,” Dr. Liz Bales, a veterinarian and founder of Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co., told The Dodo. “Some topical flea treatments can actually be deadly for cats. These are usually labeled for dogs and given by accident.”
According to Dr. Bales, you should especially avoid pyrethrin as an ingredient in your cat’s topical flea product. “This is safe for dogs and not cats,” Dr. Bales said.
Cat flea collars
There are cat flea collar options available, and they can definitely be effective. But there are some things you should be aware of first before deciding to purchase one.
There have been cases where flea collars have actually injured or killed cats. And in one study, some cats who wore flea collars reportedly still had dermatitis from flea bites.
Some cat parents have had good luck using flea collars on their cats, though, so just be sure to do your research — and get sign-off from your vet first.
What about flea shampoo for cats?
“Flea shampoo can be a good starting point for treating a bad infestation, but only kills adult fleas,” Dr. Megan Conrad, a veterinary consultant for Hello Ralphie, told The Dodo.
Flea shampoo is good in a pinch to get rid of fleas before starting a more serious preventative treatment (for both your cat and your entire home). “Bathing a flea-infested cat will not help if you are not treating the cat and environment,” Dr. Conrad added.
And if you’re going to use a shampoo, make sure it’s a flea shampoo that is specifically labeled for cats. “It is very easy for cats to absorb too much of the chemical that kills fleas from the shampoo,” Dr. Conrad said. A flea shampoo meant for dogs could actually be toxic for cats.
How to find the best flea treatment for cats
The best flea treatment for your cat is dependent on her lifestyle, parasite risk factors, health status, age and other factors — so you should see your veterinarian for a personalized recommendation.
But in general, you should look for a cat flea treatment that’s both safe and effective. And since not every cat flea treatment on the market will meet those requirements, you need to know what to look for.
“Cats with fleas should be treated with a safe and effective flea control product containing active ingredients that kill adult fleas and that sterilize flea eggs and prevent immature fleas from maturing into adults,” Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary advisor for Pet News Daily, told The Dodo.
Examples of some active ingredients that you’ll find in a quality cat flea product include spinosad, lotilaner and imidacloprid.
You should also make sure you’re buying the correct product for your cat’s life stage and weight. Also, the product must be labeled specifically for cats. Just like using the wrong shampoo, giving a flea treatment intended for dogs to a cat can be deadly.
And be sure to check that your cat’s flea products are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an animal drug. This will help you weed out any questionable cat flea treatments.
Best flea treatment for cats
These are the best cat flea treatments that were recommended by veterinarians due to their efficacy and safety.
If your cat already has fleas and you’re looking for a quick fix, the over-the-counter (OTC) oral flea pill Capstar can help. It kills existing fleas on your cat fast — but keep in mind it won’t kill future fleas. You’ll need to put your cat on a preventative (like the options below!), too, to avoid future infestations.
Comfortis is a beef-flavored chewable flea treatment for both cats and dogs that can kill fleas and prevent them for up to a month.
The active ingredient in Comfortis is spinosad, which attacks the nervous system of parasites and kills them instantly.
And it’s really effective, too. Even more so than some topical medications.
In one study, cats who took Comfortis were less likely to have fleas and flea allergy dermatitis than cats who were treated with a topical medication.
Credelio is a flavored chewable flea medication for cats that prevents both fleas and ticks for up to a month.
Credelio also kills fleas and ticks already on your cat and starts working in six hours. In one controlled study, after just 24 hours, it had killed 99 percent of ticks and 100 percent of fleas.
This medication should be given to your cat within 30 minutes of feeding, as combining it with food will make sure its active ingredient, lotilaner, can be as effective as possible.
Lotilaner is a member of the isoxazoline class, which means you should avoid giving it to your cat if she has a history of neurological issues.
Revolution Plus is a topical monthly flea medication for cats that prevents fleas and a bunch of other parasites (including ear mites).
It’s also a favorite of Dr. Coates’. “Selamectin is the active ingredient in Revolution, which can be a good option for killing fleas as well as ear mites, roundworms, hookworms and for preventing heartworm disease in cats,” Dr. Coates said. “If tick control is also needed, Revolution Plus contains selamectin and sarolaner.”
Like lotilaner, sarolaner is a member of the isoxazoline class, which means you should use it with caution in cats with a history of neurological disorders, like seizures.
Bravecto is a super convenient topical medication that protects against other parasites in addition to fleas, and only needs to be given to your cat once every two months.
Considering that your typical flea medication should be given monthly, it definitely makes protecting your cat against parasites super easy.
Other parasites that Bravecto Plus prevents include ticks, heartworms, hookworms and roundworms (which means fewer medications for your cat overall).
This is a prescription medication, so you know it’ll be a bit stronger than something you’d get OTC (but that also means you’ll need your vet’s approval first).
Bravecto Plus is also a favorite of Dr. Bales’. “Bravecto Plus works great,” Dr. Bales said.
Safe for cats, kittens and dogs, Adams Plus shampoo kills fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, ticks and lice upon washing. This shampoo is formulated for pets with sensitive skin, so it remains gentle while killing pests on contact. Remember, as Dr. Conrad said, flea shampoo should only be used when a long-term prevention plan has already been put in place for after bath time, as it will not prevent fleas from coming back.
And for tips on how to give your cat a bath without her tearing your arms to shreds, check out The Dodo’s how-to guide.
Making sure your cat is protected from fleas is an essential part of pet parenting. It’s super easy, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your cat will be flea-free for the rest of her life.
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