Fleas do more than make your cat feel itchy all over. They can actually mess with your pet's health and be a major nuisance for your home. There is a solution, though. The best flea treatments for cats are designed to kill these unwanted creepy crawlies (plus sometimes lice and ticks, too) and are super-easy to administer, so you can do it yourself from the comfort of your very own home.
It's extremely important that you consult with a veterinarian before trying a new treatment on your pet. While not common, cats can have allergies to certain products, so a vet can provide some education and, if need, be, alternative solutions. Most flea treatments contain insecticides, and some — like fipronil, an EPA-approved insecticide — can be very effective at killing fleas immediately upon exposure. However, some well-known treatments contain potentially harmful ingredients like selamectin and pyrethrin, which may be dangerous to cats, so it's crucial to shop for flea treatments with care.
Flea treatments can also vary and include collars, oral medications, shampoos, and more. Some, like collars, can be a great preventative option, while topical solutions and oral medications are generally more effective when dealing with a full-blown infestation. Looking to get rid of fleas? This list features some of the best treatments available now, recommended by veterinarians and pet care experts.
1. Best Collar
Looking for a way to protect your cat from fleas before they ever get them? If so, then a flea collar — more specifically, the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar by Bayer Animal Health — is worth buying. "Seresto is a great option for cat owners who prefer flea collars," says Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM. "Seresto can kill fleas and ticks for up to eight months." Available without a prescription, this collar works for up to eight months at a time and features flumethrin and imidacloprid as active ingredients, both of which are insecticides that can safely kill or prevent fleas from impacting your pet. This collar is completely odorless and non-greasy, and also works to get rid of flea eggs and larvae, so it works at fighting every stage of a possible infestation. For cats, this collar is also great because it comes with a built-in safety mechanism, which allows them to break free if the collar ever gets stuck or tangled. The most significant drawback is its price, which is pretty hefty compared to other collars on the market. Pet experts agree, though, that if you want a long-lasting and effective collar, this is the gold standard. And if the price feels prohibitive, Coates says it's worth it: "At first glance, Seresto does appear to be quite expensive, but when you consider that one collar should last for eight months, it’s actually cheaper than many of the other safe and effective flea treatment options for cats."
2. Best Oral Medication
If your cat has fleas and you're looking to get rid of them ASAP, these Novartis Capstar flea tablets are an extremely effective (and affordable) buy. In general, oral tablets are the fastest way to go if you want to wipe out an infestation because they go straight into your cat's bloodstream. These tablets, which had nitenpyram as an active ingredient, are no different. That means that the second a flea bites into your pet, they'll die within six hours. With more than 5,000 positive reviews on Amazon, these tablets are one of the most popular options on the site. Of course, oral tablets aren't perfect in every respect. If your cat won't take anything by mouth, administering them can quickly become a hassle you want to avoid. Another point to consider? Oral treatments aren't a preventative option. Tablets are formulated to kill adult fleas, but don't do anything to wipe out larvae. Coates adds: "Capstar is an oral product that leaves no residue behind on a pet’s coat and kills fleas very quickly. However, it has no ability to kill ticks and doesn’t do anything to prevent new fleas from infesting a cat after about 24 hours or so." Since their effects only last for up to 24 hours, there's a good chance you may have to explore other treatment options eventually, too.
3. Best Topical Treatment
One of the other effective ways to treat fleas is with a spot treatment like this one from Sentry. It contains fipronil, which experts say can kill fleas, ticks, and lice in one fell swoop. "Fipronil has a long track record of safety in cats, and it has been very effective in the past," says Coates. Each treatment is good for 30 days and is easy to apply. Just use the tube and squeeze it over the spot on your cat's back between the shoulder blades, where they can't reach. And, since it comes with six applicator tubes, you're getting plenty of bang for your buck.
4. Best Shampoo
As a rule, cats hate being given a bath. But if they've got fleas, this shampoo from Sentry PurrScriptions might be worth the fight. Formulated to kill pests upon contact while also adding some luster to your pet's coat, this shampoo gets surprisingly good reviews (which is surprising, because most pet experts say shampoos typically don't do much) and is definitely worth a try. Customers say they could see results quickly, with fleas falling off their pet immediately after application. Just leave it on their coat for five minutes, and then rinse. Since many cats really do hate getting wet, this option may not be ideal for every pet owner. Others say you may sometimes need to do multiple washes to see long-lasting results, but that the effects of this coconut berry-scented wash is that your pet's coat will look and feel great. One reviewer raved: "I have searched and searched for a flea shampoo that I liked but none compare to this one! While my cats hate baths, I have never seen them happier than after everything was said and done because of the relief it provided for them."
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