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How to Get Rid of Cat Fleas Quickly 2021

Do you want to know how to get rid of cat fleas?

The best way to kill up to 96% of the adult cat flea population is to vacuum every surface of your house thoroughly.

Dusting and changing bedding frequently also help control the flea population.

Vet-approved cat flea treatments help your treatment strategy and include sprays, flea collars, and oral treatments.

In this article, I’ll go into detail about how to get rid of cat fleas.

I’ll talk more about what fleas are, what promotes ingestion, warning signs to look for, and how to treat cat fleas.

My name is Derrick, and I write for Simply Cat Care. Our goal with this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions relating to your cat’s health.

Let’s get into it.


1. What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites. 

Many different types of flea are unique to different types of animals.

The fleas will feed on your pet’s blood, consuming 15x its body weight in blood per day.

1.1. What is the life cycle of a flea?

Getting rid of fleas involves tackling all stages of a flea life cycle.

There are four phases: egg, larvae, pupae, and adult.

Female adults will lay 40-50 eggs per day on your cat.

The flea eggs will hatch into small worms (larvae) and then enter a cocoon state (pupae) for 1-4 weeks before hatching

A female adult will lay eggs during her lifetime and accumulate up to 5,000.

Eggs transfer to surfaces your cat will come into contact with. 

2. What promotes flea infestation? 

Adult fleas, larvae, and pupae all prefer warmer climates

Warmer climates reduce the time it takes for an egg to reach the adult stage of a flea’s life cycle, from two months to as low as three weeks.

High humidity is also favorable for flea growth and improves the survivability of fleas.

Contact with other pets (e.g. dogs) or visitors to your house may be sources of outside flea infestation.

3. Signs your cat has a flea problem

Many common symptoms tell if your cat has a flea infestation.  They include:

  • Bald patches
  • Excessive scratching
  • Red spots
  • Tiny dark specks (flea dirt) on the fur
  • Unexplained insect bites around your ankles

Use a fine cat flea comb to groom your cat and inspect fleas

Examine the leftover specks (if any) under running water (often referred to as flea dirt).  If any of the specks turn red, it is due to the blood remnants of flea waste. This indicates flea infestation.

Red dots around your ankles are due to a flea bite. Flea bites can also occur on cats (check under your cat’s fur) and irritate their skin.

How to get rid of cat fleas

4. What other ways you can identify a flea problem?

You can use the so-called ‘sock test’ to check for fleas.

This involves wearing high ankle white socks and shuffling along carpets or other floorings. 

The heat generated by doing this attracts fleas onto the sock.

Check the socks for reddish-brown or dark speck remnants – which indicate flea infestation.

Another method is to place a bowl of warm or hot water with a lamp aimed at top of it.  This can cause fleas to jump into the water and die – showing you if they are a problem.

5. Why are fleas a problem?

Fleas can serve as hosts for many serious diseases such as tapeworm and cat scratch fever.

A cat can also suffer large wounds that may need antibiotic treatment. Some cats may also groom to try to remove the fleas only to develop allergies and mouth sores.

Your cat might also be host to problems (e.g. murine typhus) that transfer from flea to you.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that fleas are the main way of plagues transmitting to humans.

This is usually from rodent fleas, but your cat can also transmit disease.

5.1. What are some other problems related to flea infestation?

Fleas may lead to unpleasant skin irritation.

You might have an infestation in your bed for example, that keeps you up at night

Cats with flea infestation experience pruritis, which means excessive desire to scratch.  This can lead to hair loss, scaly skin, and wounds.

Kittens, in particular, are susceptible to anemia.  Pale gums are one sign of this and would require prompt vet attention. 

6. How to get of cat fleas?

Many different flea treatment products include sprays, collars, and shampoos available on the market. 

Solutions are topical or oral:

Bathing your cat with a gentle cat shampoo will help to kill live fleas and alleviate itchiness.

Avoid dog flea treatments, as they contain permethrin which is an insecticide that is toxic to cats.

The majority of the flea population are eggs (95%). This means killing fleas requires an intensive strategy that can destroy fleas at all life stages.

Check out my guide on cat flea collars for more helpful information on that treatment.

7. How to get rid of cat fleas without chemicals?

Your best chance of success to kill fleas is to treat your home with a thorough cleaning routine.

The following strategies help control the flea population:

7.1. Vacuuming

Using a vacuum has a high success rate in destroying the flea population.

Vacuuming kills 96% of adult fleas, and 100% of younger fleas, one study found.

The mechanical aspect of vacuuming destroys the outer cuticle layer of fleas, dehydrating them.

This also appears to work in destroying eggs and pupae.

Whilst the fleas are most likely dead, it is a good idea to dispose of the vacuum bag routinely after use. 

7.2. Dusting

Any dust around your house may be a breeding ground for fleas.

Fleas live among dusty areas, and around organic food matter. 

Make sure you dust routinely to keep the fleas at bay.

A low dust cat litter may also help.

Check out my best cat litter for allergies article to learn more.

7.3. Clean all surfaces and bedding

To make sure there are no chances for fleas, wipe down every surface and clean bedding.

Use a bucket of warm soapy water (with some dish soap) and thorough detail cleaning should be done weekly around any contact surface.

Detail all parts of furniture in the house. 

Wash your bedding, and vacuum the mattress.  Steam clean your carpet to remove residual eggs.

If you have any pet bedding, place it in the wash on the hottest setting.  Do this once a week and let it dry in direct sunlight.

If your cat’s going outdoors frequently, it can also help to trim the yard grass as fleas grow here.

8. How to get rid of cat fleas with vet-approved treatments

Cleaning will help eliminate fleas, but some treatments may be warranted for extra prevention.

This comes at the cost of exposing your cat to chemicals, so you need to ensure the treatment is safe for cats.

Vet-approved insecticides may be useful in controlling fleas, however, they may develop resistance.

This means that repeated reliance on insecticides alone is not a viable strategy in flea control.

Changing products may improve your chances of controlling the flea population.

Flea shampoos and powders that are not vet-approved don’t appear to have much effect and may be unpleasant for your cat.

Oral therapies that are vet-approved can help control the flea population by killing fleas feeding on your pet. 

This also appears to regulate the number of adult fleas in the environment. Many treatments are fast-acting and get fleas under control swiftly if combined with house cleaning.

Use a veterinarian-approved house flea spray as an extra measure.

8.1. How to get rid of cat fleas with natural remedies

You might want to use natural remedies for cat flea treatment, but there is a risk involved in many natural substances.

The problem is a cat may experience toxicity symptoms towards many natural products, including essential oils.

This is because a cat has different physiology than a human, and is less able to tolerate different chemicals found in a wide range of natural products.

I wrote a helpful guide to home remedies for fleas over here.

If you want to use home remedies for fleas, check in with a veterinarian before treating your house and cat.


Conclusion: How to Get Rid of Cat Fleas

In this article, I’ve helped answer the question ‘How to get rid of cat fleas’.

The best way to solve this problem is by vacuuming all surfaces to destroy most of the adult fleas.

Fleas are a common problem for many cat owners. They cause skin irritation and other issues for your cat.

It is important to identify a flea infestation and treat the problem without delay. I outlined some ways to find out whether fleas are a problem and some treatment strategies.

Want to learn more about anything cat-related?

Check out some of our latest posts here.

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