Repelling fleas is only one step in the process of controlling a flea infestation. Regular grooming of your cat and attention to its environment are essential to a flea control regimen. While these methods may take more time than chemical pesticides, they are considered much safer than their chemical alternatives.
Invest in a fine-toothed flea comb. Comb your cat on a daily basis to remove adult fleas. Dip the comb in soapy water between each swipe of the comb to kill the live fleas. Regular combing will remove adult fleas.
In addition to regular grooming with a flea comb, essential oils can be applied to the cat. Rosemary, thyme, peppermint, cedar and lemongrass essential oils are recommended. Fleas are naturally repelled by strong scents, and these oils have proven to be relatively safe for use on cats. Apply the essential oils to the back of the cat's neck where it cannot directly ingest them. Adverse reactions may include hair loss, excessive scratching, twitching, muscle weakness, seizure or death. If any of these occur, consult a veterinarian immediately.
Another option for natural flea control is a product called diatomaceous earth. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized shells of marine animals called diatoms. These shells are crushed into a fine powder. The powder has sharp edges that will cut the soft exoskeleton of the fleas, causing them to dehydrate to death. Animals treated with diatomaceous earth should be kept dry, since the product loses its effectiveness when wet. Do not use diatomaceous earth formulated for pools. It contains crystalline silicate, a chemical that is toxic to cats.
Give your cat a bath in hot soapy water. This method should be used sparingly and only when fleas get to the point where they cannot be controlled. Original formula Dawn dish soap is safe, and has been recommended by cat owners as being extremely effective. The scent of the soap stays on the cat and repels fleas. Washing a cat strips the cat's coat of its natural oils, and frequent bathing can cause side effects such as dandruff and dry skin.
Environmental control is another important step in flea control. Wash your pet's bedding on a weekly basis in hot soapy water. Vacuum daily, if possible, to remove flea eggs and larvae from the cat's environment. Diatomaceous earth can be applied to areas where a cat sleeps frequently with no danger of toxicity to other household members. Diatomaceous earth can also be applied to any outdoor areas your cat has access to. For outdoor control, keeping grass cut short will increase the area's dryness and temperature, making it inhospitable to fleas.
A teaspoon of brewer's yeast given daily to a cat will make the cat's blood taste less appealing to fleas. Some cats are yeast-intolerant, however, and may get a skin reaction. If this occurs, discontinue use. Vitamin B-1 is another repellent that will alter the taste of the cat's blood, as will apple cider vinegar. The dosage of these should be determined by a veterinarian.