5 Natural Ways to Prevent & Get Rid of Fleas on Cats

Independent as they may seem, our fabulous feline companions can’t do everything on their own-and this includes fighting off fleas. Being too sensitive to essential oils, and the fact they lick themselves so much, makes natural flea repellents for cats trickier than it is for dogs. Many natural methods deal with prevention (vacuuming, regularly washing bedding, and so on) but there are a few that you can take immediate action with.

5 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats- a great list of natural flea remedies for cats!

1. Flea Comb

This is very similar to the flea comb for dogs, and while some cats may find the scent of citrus unappealing, the way this is prepared can lessen the intensity of the smell to their sensitive noses (but not to the fleas) because you don’t use straight lemon juice. Fleas hate the overwhelming smell of lemon, and it seems to help deter them. Combining the lemon with a flea comb-it can be either a regular comb, although the super fine toothed ones sold in stores are optimum-does twice as good a job. You get the pests out with the comb, while leaving a lingering scent of lemon that will keep them from coming back.

cat flea comb

You will need…

-A fine toothed comb or flea comb
-2-3 lemons
-3 cups of water
-A spray bottle
-A pot

Directions

Pour 3 cups of water into a pot and add in 3 lemons that have been chopped up. Bring this to a boil, and then remove from heat before letting the lemons steep in the water for 3 hours (3 is the magic number here it seems.) After it is done steeping strain the lemons and their particles from the liquid and pour into a spray bottle. You can than lightly mist your cat and go through their fur with the comb. Alternatively you can pour the liquid into a bowl and soak your flea comb directly in the solution and then go over your cat. Do this at least twice a day. You can also mist their bedding down, if they don’t seem to mind the smell. Remember, if your cat seems to think the lemon is unpleasant, try something else. You wouldn’t want to have to live covered in a smell you didn’t like either.

Personally: I have started using glass spray bottles when it comes to anything acidic like lemon juice, vinegar, etc., rather than plastic. Whether or not there is anything to chemicals leaching from the plastic, it puts my mind at ease.


2. Apple Cider Vinegar Bath or Spray

Would you want to chomp onto something that smelled overwhelmingly foul to you? Probably not. The same thing is true of fleas and vinegar-even apple cider vinegar, which I actually like the smell of. Applying this during a bath or as a spray does not change a cats internal Ph. levels, and is a good way to naturally remove fleas, especially on kittens.

flea spray

You will need…

-A spray bottle
-Several cups of Apple Cider Vinegar
-Some very mild shampoo that is safe for cats (optional)

Directions

Fill a spray bottle with apple cider vinegar, apply directly to coat, and leave on. Alternatively you can carefully bathe your cat, either with just ACV or ACV and mild shampoo mixed together. If you are using just ACV spray a generous amount onto the fur and let it sit on your cat for 5 minutes before rinsing it off and following the bath with a flea comb. I prefer the shampoo route personally. If you do use it, use a half and half shampoo to vinegar ratio, and suds the cats head first-when you place the cat in water, the first thing fleas will do is run up to the head. Work the shampoo blend into their fur well and let it sit for 5 minutes, rinsing out thoroughly and follow treatment with a flea comb. If your cat will not tolerate a bath, use the spray bottle option, or gently pour cups of water of it instead of setting it in standing water (submersion may make the experience that much more scary to your cat.)

3. Dry D.E. Shampoo

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring rock that is made up of the fossilized remains of ancient hard shelled algae (called diatoms, hence the name.) Easily crumbled into a fine powder, DE is an effective and safe means of repelling fleas. While harmless to humans or pets, it is lethal to fleas because of its tiny but incredibly sharp edges that can slice right through the pest’s tough, waxy, exoskeleton. The fleas then die of dehydration. It is important that you only use food grade diatomaceous earth-any other kind is not approved for use on animals or humans, not to mention it will be too finely ground to kill the fleas. Food grade can be safely used externally and internally in both humans and animals, which means that when your cat goes to lick itself off, DE won’t hurt it.

The biggest thing you want to avoid is breathing it in-you don’t want those little particles in your throat. This can be avoided by wearing a mask when using it in large quantities (if you are dusting the cats bedding down, for example) and by not going overboard when putting it on your pet.

diatamaceous earth flea remedy

You will need…

-Food grade Diatomaceous Earth
-Some gloves

Directions

Wearing gloves so as not to pick up fleas yourself, dust your hands with DE, or take a small handful. Pat or sprinkle onto your cats fur and rub it in so it’s not just sitting on the surface, also avoiding getting too close to their nose. Follow this by dusting your pets bedding (after you’ve washed it) and rubbing it in well so there aren’t a bunch of loose particles floating around to inhale. You can do this treatment on your cat once a day, and on the bedding once a week.

4. Biological warfare

Beneficial nematodes are insect-parasitic, which means that these small microscopic “worms” are safe for pets, people, and plants, but not pests. There are many different kinds of nematodes, but the ones marketed for flea control and pest control in gardens are not one of the nasty ones. These little guys have a unique mission, seek out pests (they love flea larvae) and destroy them. It’s a little gross how they go about it-basically they kill the flea from the inside out and then feed on it-but fleas are nasty anyways right? What goes around comes around I suppose. Nematodes have been shown to be very helpful in reducing flea populations under the right conditions. They need moist soil to thrive and to be able to move easily, but they did not have the same level of effectiveness in dry super dry conditions. If you live in an area where nematodes might be useful, you can place them around the perimeter of the house where they act like a tiny army to defend your home (and your cat) from fleas. Use them in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Soapy water flea trap

Fleas, well, they aren’t the brightest things in the world, which is good news for us. They are attracted to light, and find its shining splendor irresistible. To take advantage of this, place a very shallow dish with sudsy water under a night light so when they hop towards the light, they hop into the water and drown. Use hot or warm water, as they seek things out by temperature.

You will need…

-A shallow dish (a yogurt lid works well)
-Warm water
-Dish soap
-A night light

Directions

Fill a shallow dish with warm soapy water and place directly under a night light. Check the trap in the morning, empty it, and repeat to help get the fleas under control.

Cats are particularly sensitive creatures, and with the tendency to lick their fur, chemical fleas treatments can make many owners take pause. They also metabolize essential oils differently than dogs, making most of them toxic to felines, which then present another barrier when it comes to flea control. Prevention, such as regularly washing your pets bedding and vacuuming, is one of the best ways to keep you on top in your fight with fleas. If nothing natural seems to work, do know that the infestation may be to such a point that a trip to the vet is needed. Even if you would really rather not go, you and your cat will be better off for it.

Know the enemy

Fleas are dastardly things, but a basic understanding of how they live is a good way to learn how to kill them and keep them from returning (I’ll try and keep this short.) A flea has 4 stages of development-egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are laid on the host after the female feeds, but easily roll off. Thanks to this little trick, places where the pet sleeps becomes heavily infested-which is why attention to bedding and resting spots is a must. To win this battle, one must fight the flea at all life stages. Kill the adults, get rid of the eggs, and prevent the larva and pupa from ever existing. Easier said than done, of course, but it’s worth fighting for your pets comfort and health.

One course of action you might take…

Kill adults: Use a flea comb to pick them off and drown them in soapy water. Follow this with a flea bath and a dusting of DE. Dust DE on pets bedding and carpets, and vacuum carpets after 30 minutes.

Get rid of the eggs: Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Vacuum carpets like your life depends on it, and be even stricter about your pet’s bed and resting places. Wash bedding often in hot water with a splash of white vinegar as well. Empty vacuum right away and take trash out to prevent the flea eggs from hatching and re-infesting the house. Eggs hatch every 2 days to 2 weeks.

mowgli

Mowgli

Prevent pupa and larvae: If you are religious about doing the above, it becomes possible to prevent pupa and larva from developing and reproducing as they can only reproduce after they feed on blood (which sounds straight out of a bad horror movie doesn’t it?)

Prevention: Fleas populations break down as such-%50 eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupa, 5% adults. Eggs lead to adults, of course, so don’t underestimate the benefit of regular vacuuming or spraying with something like the lemon spray.

paws

Paws

For Kittens: Treating baby animals with fleas is always a challenge. Even if you plan on using flea medication from the vet, it can’t be used until they are a certain age. They are small, and fragile, and it takes an extra chunk of dedication to safely rid them of the pests. If using DE, always make sure you aren’t being excessive, which might result in the kitten breathing it in. I think regular flea baths and going over them with a flea comb is a good idea, time consuming as it may be.


Tip: Don’t know if your cat has fleas? If you can see little brown or black specks on your pet’s skin, it may be flea feces. Smear one on a wet paper towel-if it turns reddish, its flea excrement, and that’s blood you are seeing.

Dog owner? Take a look at our flea remedies for dogs.

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By Claire Goodall

Claire is a lover of life, the natural world, and wild blueberries. On the weekend you can find her fiddling in the garden, romping with her dogs, and enjoying the great outdoors with her horse.

Claire is very open-minded, ask her anything :) Meet Claire→

         

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We Want to Hear from You! Let us know which remedies work and do not work for you, ask a question or leave a comment:

22 Comments

  1. Angela Kirk says:

    20 mule team borax in the laundry detergent isle sprinkle it around and behind stove furniture its CHEEPER than any other remedy,I sprinkle it into the carpet then leave it a day then i vacume it up repeat once a week for 2 weeks,be sure to bathe the pets to get fleas of of them I dont have roaches or fleas

  2. Lisa McWilliams says:

    I am going to try this method on getting rids of fleas from my cats & kittens. Hopefully this will work so I can bring 1 or 2 of them in the house & finally have a house pet. Thanks for the info & I will let y’all know how it works.

    any ideas on how to get rid of gnats in the house? I have tried ACV in the bottle method & all it seems to do is attract them without them actually going in the bottle. I will again try bombing the house but with my respiratory problems it really isn’t my best option.

    thanks so much.. Lisa McWilliams

  3. DAWN DRAYER says:

    BLUE DAWN DISH SOAP MADE THE FLEAS DROP OFF

  4. amandadealbuquerque says:

    im going to tried this, but where u buydiatomaceous earth

    • Teresa says:

      I got mine at a natural foods/vitamin store. 9oz. for $13.79 large canister of powder. I put some into an empty spice jar so I could shake it on. Keep it away from eyes and nose.

    • Lori says:

      Amazon.com You can usually get free shipping when your total order is over $25. I also LIGHTLY dust this on the bottom half of my mattress pad, under the sheet, on all the pet bedding.

    • Mimi says:

      I got mine at the Feed store (Olsens Grain). I paid $20 for a 50lb bag. Best deal I could find. I put the stuff in a can with a plastic lid that has holes punched in it and I sprinkle it all over my yard. Kills any kind of sucking insect before it can even get to my pets. I only have to treat the yard once ever couple years, it works that well. Neither my house nor my pets ever have fleas, and my chickens don’t have mites. No tics, ear mites, or any other nasty bugs that try to habitate on my darling little animals.

  5. Yvette Young says:

    what’s a good, natural remedy for bedbugs; why can’t you use the same thing you use for fleas?

    • Lori says:

      Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) will kill anything with an exoskeleton, including bed bugs. Make sure to dust on ALL fabric items; sofa, carpets & bedding that can’t be washed. Work it down into the carpet with a broom. I DUST (not dump) on lower half of mattress pad, under sheet. I don’t like washing electric blankets; I do dust the powder on them and make sure I keep a sheet between me and the blanket. Toss stuffed animals, your & your pet’s bedding into dryer for 15-20 daily. Some say every few days, but I’d rather err on the side of getting them dead! My daughter is a bug bite magnet. I do wash them once a week. Check stuffed animal tags, most can’t be washed. Fleas & bedbugs don’t disappear instantaneously, but they will disappear. Chin up!

  6. Bernie says:

    I saw a carpet cleaning solution that used ingrediants you already have in your home. I can’t remember what most of these were. I think it had oxicleanpowder & maybe peroxide. If you have this reciepe I would be so glad, because my carpet has stains & non of the store bought cleaners seem to work. Thanks.

  7. miriam morgan says:

    i don’t have a comment , but a question about my chihauhau 9mo. old and his weird actions .i thought since you love dogs , you might know what is wrong with my dog.

  8. Serenity de Clare says:

    How do you spray something on a cat that won’t tolerate having something sprayed on him and runs away and hides and even if you hold him, he claws his way out of your hold and runs away and hides??? Is there any alternatives to spray? We have a cat that was a stray for 20 and we took him off the street when we moved into this house so not only are we dealing with his psychological problems of people shooing him with brooms and such and throwing things at him, but we are also dealing with 20 years of fleas, 20 years of claw growth that he won’t tolerate us trimming. He probably has heart worms, worms, ticks, pukes occasionally, always has diarrhea when he goes to the bathroom and Lord only knows what else but we cannot afford to take him to the vet at this point in time. So yeah, we are trying to deal with the flea problem first because I am getting bit up very badly and I alaredy have a compromised immune system. So far my fiancee hasn’t gotten any bites, praise the Lord. But yeah, our cat will NOT tolerate spray. I did bath him in white vinegar and Dawn dish soap and I thought everything was ok for 24 hours but afterwards our cat was still itching…yeah…

    • Lori says:

      FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth (DE). It kills anything with an exoskeleton. Dust on cat trees, carpet, crease of fabric sofa. You have to work it int carpet w a broom. My daughter is a magnet for flea bites. Put a tiny amount in your hand and work into fur. Wash bedding once a week & Dry all bedding 15-20 min a day. Flea Comb every day…can’t stress this enough. Look at comb with every comb and dunk into soapy water if there is a flea. Otherwise, rake comb onto napkin to remove eggs & dried blood specs (what larvae feed on) EVERY time you pull comb through fur. This way you aren’t redepositing those back onto cat. Yes, this is a pain, but, it works…eventually :)

    • Janelle says:

      I don’t know about the cat, but for some relief for yourself you can get a good tea tree oil soap and laundry detergent. This works to keep the flees off of me and my clothes; otherwise they eat me alive. Keep in mind that the soap can be drying to your skin, though, so don’t use it too often. Tea tree is bad for cats though, so don’t use it there.

  9. voni mitchell says:

    Do you think I could use the cat remedy on a ferret? I have 2 cats and a ferret that live in my bedroom for the most part, but don’t want the ferret inhaling the dust.

  10. Carla says:

    For fleas in the carpet, I use table salt. The flea dehydrated after they eat it.
    I use the salt shaker and spread it on the carpet, the next day I vacumm it.
    do it again in 7 days to catch the new hatched and when ever you see fleas
    jump on you.
    It does hurt animals or babies.

  11. Rita says:

    I’ve created a very good flea spray for carpets, curtains, bedding, etc. that seemed to work great!! I use 1/3 hydrogen peroxide, 1/3 apple cider vinegar and 1/3 Dawn dish washing liquid (the blue one only). I shake it just a bit, then use a spray bottle w/a fine spray. I’ve sprayed this onto my carpets, furniture, etc. & within 2-3 days I had not one sign of fleas. I repeated the spraying every day for about a 3-4 days. Right after I used this the first day, I gave my cat a bath in Dawn, patted her dry & sprayed 1/2 hydrogen peroxide & 1/2 apple cider vinegar on her. It worked like a charm!!! The fleas began falling off of her during the bath. When I began drying her, I first held her in the towel for at least 5 min., then patted her dry, combed her for a while, then sprayed her with the above mixture. This will work on kittens as well since they’re too young for formal medications. The mixture doesn’t hurt the carpeting or furniture and the smell, if any, goes away within an hour or so, plus my cat’s fur is just as soft as can be! Give it a try…..it’ can’t hurt them or you & is a very inexpensive way to rid you, your cat & your house of fleas.

    • mandy says:

      This, from every website I’ve read, seems like the best idea for effectiveness, price, & ease. 2 things tho: I’d repeat every day for 2 weeks (hatching cycle). And I’m not sure about hydrogen peroxide on cats fur (won’t they lick it? Are your cats still OK?) Might just skip that one ingredient on that one part.

  12. Nimue says:

    Thank you very much, your explanations have revealed a lot. I’m also dealing with dust mites, and I figure this will help with that also. I cringe when I’m reduced to using chemical flea treatments, and i’ve known the housecleaning is strategic, and now I know how to use DE outside, re a post here. I’ll try bathing my cat, but i think applying with hands will work better.

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