The Best Flea Repellent for a Cat

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Some flea repellent products should not be used on kittens under 4 months old.
Some flea repellent products should not be used on kittens under 4 months old. (Image: Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

You need to protect cats against flea bites and infestations with a flea repellent product. Fortunately, cat owners have a variety of products to choose from, but not all of these work equally well or are safe for your pet. If you have questions about the best flea repellent for your cat, consult with your veterinarian about the safety of each product.

Cats and Fleas

Fleas can turn up anywhere and can even be brought into the house unknowingly on people’s clothes. Fleas are 1/8-inch long with reddish-brown color and flattened shape. Larva are even smaller, about 3/16-inch long with a whitish body and brownish head. Fleas feed on the blood of their hosts, and can cause intense itching and general debilitation. Cat flea problems can be made worse by allergic reactions to the flea saliva, which can cause itchy hives around the cat’s face and neck that can lead to bacterial infection. For this reason, finding the best and safest flea repellent product for your cat is a serious matter.

Commercial Flea Repellent Products

The number of flea control and prevention products on the market can be confusing. Products include flea collars, once-a-month spot treatments, sprays, powders and pills. These products kill adult fleas and many contain insect growth regulators that prevent eggs and larva from developing. These products generally contain chemical compounds such as fibronil, amitraz, permethrin, as well as methoprene, pyriproxyfen, imidacloprid or lufenuron.

Natural Flea Repellents

Natural flea control products may be the better choice for some sensitive animals. These can include rosemary, citronella or wormwood oil. D-limonene, an ingredient in citrus oil, can also help repel fleas on your cat. Garlic and brewer’s yeast, added to food, can help to repel fleas by making your cat unpalatable to the fleas. Diatomaceous earth, made from the fossilized skeletons of tiny marine creatures called diatoms, can be sprinkled on carpets and bedding to kill adult fleas and larva in your home. This powder has tiny, sharp edges that cut the exoskeletons of the fleas, causing them to dehydrate and die.

Special Precautions

Cats can be particularly sensitive to flea control products because of their grooming habits. Observe your cat carefully after administering these products. Look for signs of drooling, nausea, tremor or rash. If any of these symptoms develop, take your pet to the veterinarian for an assessment. Never use a product made for dogs on cats. Follow all instructions for the product's application regarding the cat's age and weight. Most flea repellents should not be used on elderly or pregnant cats; consult your veterinarian for the best option.

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