Q: Please tell me the best way to get rid of cat fleas. My cat is 17 years old and never goes outdoors. As an indoor cat, she never had a flea problem until now and it’s driving her, and us, crazy.
A: Historically, the most effective way to kill cat fleas was the three-step method: treat the yard, home and cat. Current monthly flea and tick control products available through veterinarians, however, are so effective that treating the home and yard is rarely necessary. These new products are either applied directly to the cat, given orally or injected.
The goal of treatment is to eliminate cats’ fleas before they reproduce. Treatment with an “adulticide” eliminates adult fleas on the cat, and ideally kills newly acquired fleas as well. Over-the-counter products are basically insecticides; they effectively kill adult fleas but offer little residual activity, and re-infestation is common. When applied monthly as directed, cat veterinarian products that contain imidacloprid, fipronil and selamectin kill most fleas before they reproduce and provide residual activity between applications.
Mechanical control remains an important part of flea control. Thoroughly wash blankets, throw rugs and cat carriers and vacuum cat sleeping and resting areas to remove eggs and larvae. Also vacuum seat cushions and pillows on sofas and chairs, as well as the areas beneath sofas and beds where flea eggs and feces can drop and accumulate. Speak to your veterinarian about the different flea control products available. Flea control is no longer the pesky, difficult problem that it used to be years ago.