- Types of Cat Flea Control & Flea Prevention
- How To Tell If Your Cat or Kitten Has Fleas
- Topical Cat Flea Prevention
- Bayer Advantage II
- Frontline Plus for Cats and Kittens
- Catego Flea and Tick Control For Cats
- Cheristin for Cats Review
- Flea Collars for Cats
- Fleas FAQ
Keeping your cat flea-free is one of the most basic responsibilities we have. Fleas are uncomfortable and unhealthy and both humans and pets don’t want them around.
Fortunately, flea prevention for cats is a simple affair, but there are more products than ever to choose from these days.
Which is best for your cat and your home? This guide is a comprehensive review and round-up of every cat flea preventative and treatment currently available. Regularly updated and based on extensive research, I hope it will make your decision easier!
Types of Cat Flea Control & Flea Prevention
Cats are fussy, and so are us humans. Which type of flea treatment and prevention is prefered by some, might be somethign that others wish to avoid.
Spot-on or liquid flea products often fall into this category. This big guide covers all types of cat flea prevention and treatment options.
There’s something for everyone out there – you just need to find the one that works both for your cats and that you’re comfortable and confident using.
The types that I’m covering in this regularly updated guide are:
Liquid Applicators – also called spot-on, these are the standard flea products that are applied to the back of the neck.
Flea collars – collars with built in anti-flea ingredients that release slowly over time.
Flea sprays – can be used to treat the environment, to rid flea eggs and larvae from the home and yard.
|Advantage II||Frontline Plus||Seresto Collar||Catego||Cheristin|
|Liquid applicator||Liquid applicator||Collar||Liquid applicator||Liquid applicator|
How To Tell If Your Cat or Kitten Has Fleas
It’s usually pretty obvious if you have a flea problem with your cats and other animals. But here are the main signs. You might notice one, some, or all of them as a sure fire confirmation that fleas are about.
What is flea dirt? Fleas have to poop too and that’s what “flea dirt” literally is: the feces of fleas. It’s called flea dirt because it looks a bit like dirt sprinkled around, but has a brown-red tinge to it. The red color comes from the blood the flea has taken from your cat.
It makes a horrible mess and is often a first sign that you have a flea problem. This stuff is literally falling off your cat as he walks around and sleeps, and you’ll find it everywhere: on bedding including your sheets, the floor, food bowls; anywhere your cat goes.
Once you start seeing live fleas on your cat, on the ground, in bedding, and on yourself, then you know that you have a clear problem that needs dealing with right away. Live fleas indicate that the flea cycle is well and truly under way, and that the fleas are thriving on the blood of your cats, so you’ll want to be disrupting that process ASAP, both on the cat and in the environment where more eggs are awaiting their time to hatch.
Remember: One female flea can lay 25 or more eggs every day and the three larval stages can be completed in as little as 7 days. Expand this to include dozens, or hundreds of fleas, and you can see how quickly they multiply.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
If you have a cat who is allergic to fleas, as many are, then you might become aware of sores, scabbing and excessive grooming happening.
Cats with flea allergy can often provide you with the very first clue that fleas are about, even before you’ve noticed any other signs.
If cats are kept up to date with flea control, this is obviously unlikely to happen, and those cats who are allergic should certainly be on a quality flea prevention program to prevent this distressing, irritating skin problem occurring (which can lead to infections).
Topical Cat Flea Prevention
These are the regular spot on type of liquid applicators that you apply to the base of the cat’s neck. The big fmailiar brands like Bayer Advantage and Frontline Plus make use of chemical insectides in low doses. Natural products are also available.
Bayer Advantage II
Active Ingredients: Imidacloprid and Pyriproxyfen
Minimum age: 8 weeks old
Controls: fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae
Kills fleas: Within 12 hours of applying
You need to have a fair idea of your cat’s weight before buying the Advantage. There are three versions based on weight:
- 2-5 pounds
- 5-9 pounds
- 9+ pounds
Like any good flea treatment should, Advantage targets all life cycles of fleas. Adults, eggs and larvae are all eliminated.
If you have an existing flea infestation that you’re trying to get rid of, after treating your cat(s) with Advantage II, thorougly vacuum and/or replace cat bedding, blankets and any other soft surfaces.
Flea eggs can lie dormant for a long time, and besides that, you’ll want to get rid of the unsightly “flea dirt” that inevitably makes its way into every crevice.
Are There Any Side Effects With Advantage II?
Firstly, always make sure you’re sticking to one dose monthly AND purchasing the right product for your cat’s weight AND buying from a reputable source – preferably straight through the manufacturer through Amazon or Petco, or at your vet clinic.
Most cats will not have any negative reaction or side effects with Advantage. There are some reports of incidents involving some cats though, whereby they’ve had a reaction after having the flea tratment applied. If you notice any unusual or concerning signs in your cat after using Advantage or any other flea product – stop using it and go to the vet.
There are various reasons why some cat’s have a reaction to anything with some being particularly sensitive to certain ingredients, allergic reactions and other issues which have, in a relatively small number of reported cases, resulted in reactions like skin irritation and hair loss where the liquid was applied.
Concerningly, there are fake counterfeit versions out there of Advantage which are absolutely dangerous. Only purchase the product from a reputable source.
I have been shocked and disturbed to read about some cats suffering as much as becoming paralyzed after their owners unknowingly purchased counterfeit flea products – it is never worth saving a few dollars. Only buy the original and avoid potential fakes on eBay and other questionable sellers.
Salivation can happen if a cat licks the Advantage liquid – applying it in the correct spot at the base of the skull helps prevent this happening as cats can’t naturally reach there. If you have multiple cats who groom each other, it’s more of a challenge, but most will not want to go near anything this distasteful.
Frontline Plus for Cats and Kittens
Active ingredients: Fipronil and (s)-methoprene
Minimum age: 8 weeks
Unlike Advantage for cats which has three formulas based on weight, Frontline Plus is a “one size fits all” product. There’s only one product to suit all cats as long as they’re at least 8 weeks old and weigh over 1.5lbs.
Catego Flea and Tick Control For Cats
Catego Flea Control is Suitable For:
Cats and kittens 8 weeks and older, and weighing minimum 1.5lbs
Catego Should Not Be Given To Cats Who Are:
Sick, aged (?), medicated, pregnant or nursing cats or those who have a known sensitivity to the ingredients.
Potential or Known Side Effects of Catego
The company says gastrointestinal reactions like vomiting and diarrhea have been reported.
They also note that side effects are possible in sensitive cats with this and any pesticide products including redness, irritation, itching and other signs at the place the product is applied. If any skin reactions occur they instruct to bathe the cat with a mild soap or shampoo (unfortunately many cats don’t tolerate a bath which doesn’t always make this possible), and rinse thoroughly, and contact your vet if signs persist.
This all sounds alarming, and it certainly can be if your cat is one of the minority that experiences side effects with a chemical-based flea product. It is however good to see this company being open and transparent with the possibilities, encouraging people to be aware and to keep an eye on your cat for a period of time after applying the flea treatment.
Does Catego Work For Fleas and Ticks on Cats?
The good news is that the majority sentiment around this flea & tick control product is that it works well for most cats. It’s priced lower than most of the more well known, bigger brands which has led to more people giving it a go, with a number of people noting that their veterinarian has recommended Catego.
Cheristin for Cats Review
Elanco Animal Health is the company behind Cheristin.
Cheristin makes use of an uncommon ingredient not seen in any of the other cat flea products that I’ve looked at or am aware of.
I’ll talk more about that below.
This product is designed for healthy, non-pregnant cats who are:
- 8+ weeks in age
- At least 1.8 pounds in weight (816 grams)
Cheristin is a one-dose-fits-all flea product, which means there’s only one version and it’s suitable for any cat over 1.8 pounds.
Even very heavy cats weighing up to 20 pounds (over 9kg) require only a single dose of Cheristin. You can buy it in a 6 pack or in a single pack, depending how many cats you have or if you like to stock up and save money.
The company that makes this flea treatment states that Cheristin “kills 100% of fleas on cats in 12 hours and starts killing fleas in 30 minutes”. It also describes it as a gentle flea treatment, aimed at cat owners who are hesitant or skeptical about some of the bigger name products out there and their ingredients.
Despite this, they also acknowledge that side effects are possible in some cats with potential issues including fur loss at the site of the application, itching and inflammation.
These issues are possible with any sort of liquid flea products and the fact that Elanco lists them means that some customers have reported these issues and/or they have been seen in trials. Additionally, the company is upfront in stating that some cats have reported to experience more serious side effects like vomiting, lethargy and disinterest in food – all things that should have you seeing a vet.
Elanco doesn’t state what percentage of cats have experienced any side effects. They do however note on the packaging that if your cat does have any issues with the product, they’d like you to let them know about it.
Cheristin is applied to the back of the cat’s neck at the base of the skull in the same way as other liquid flea product applicators. When done correctly, the cat should not be able to reach the area to lick or groom.
The main active ingredient in Cheristin for Cats is spinetoram. As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t an ingredient that you’ll find in the mainstream flea products, who tend to use the more “tried and trusted” (but certainly not without problems) couple of ingredients, whereas Elanco has gone out on a limb with this one.
What is spinetoram, how does it compare to the more well known flea control ingredients, and what are the potential risks?
This pesticide chemical is often used to control various types of insect larvae, beetles, and fleas. It is used on crops and in commercial plant facilities and nurseries. Extensive testing has been done by the EPA in regards to risks and toxicity factors of spinetorma in different applications, but not specifically for use in flea products on pets.
The only use that this ingredient has when it comes to pets and flea control is in fact in products like Cheristin. It’s worth noting that spinetoram is described as being “poorly absorbed through the skin of mammals” according to the parasite information resource Parasitipedia. And considering absorption through the skin is the basis for spot-on flea control products, this is an area I definitely wanted to investigate more in regards to this product.
What do cat owners think of Cheristin?
It might not yet be a household name, but Cheristin has become an exceptionally popular choice for cat flea control. More and more people are looking for alternatives to Frontline and other big brands. Customer satisfaction is, overall, higher with Cheristin than Advantage and Frontline products. But just looking at star ratings doesn’t tell us the whole story. I’ve spent days upon days scouring reviews and comments around the web to find the nitty gritty details of people’s experiences in using Cheristin on their cats. What are they really saying about this product? While Cheristin is rated extremely highly by the majority of people, there are of course always some who are disappointed. What was their experience like? To save you time (and I mean dozens of hours that I’ve spent researching), I’ve summarized below my findings about Cheristin from the point of view of hundreds of cat owners who’ve either switched to it from another brand, or have tried it as their first choice for flea control.
What people like about Cheristin
What people don’t like about Cheristin
Flea Collars for Cats
Bayer Seresto Cat Flea and Tick Collar
Tick Control For Cats
Important Note About Pyrethrin-based Flea Products – Toxic for Cats
The toxicity of pyrethrin and permethrin to cats is well known, however there are veyr unfortuantely some cheap flea products which continue to (legally) use such ingredients.
There have been devastating consequences in many cases (note, that is just one recent case from Australia, however the same can apply to any products, anywhere, that uses pyrethroid ingredients), with cats being rushed to emergency vets after convulsing after having such flea products applied and sadly, often losing their lives.
It goes without saying, regardless of laws in some locations stating that “small amounts” of pyrethrins and pyrethroids are able to be used in cat products, I absolutely DO NOT recommend every using such products. Is it worth risking your cat’s health and life? Absolutely not. These product should be removed from sale completely. Any flea control products that contain pyrtherin or permethrin will, for convenience and informative reasons, be included in this guide with a big DO NOT USE disclaimer attached.
For this reason, flea products for dogs should never ever be used on cats because most dog flea formulas contain pyrtherin based ingredients (as they are not harmful to dogs). Never use a dog flea product on a cat.
Pyrethroid based cat flea products are usually the cheapest of cheap products out there. Some are sold in large supermarkets and sadly, uneducated buyers can understandably assume they are safe and choose one of these products to save money.
And because pyrethrin is based on a plant extract, some products containing it are often marketed as “natural”, leading buyers to feel even more comfortable and confident that they are buying a safe flea product. Don’t be fooled – pyrethrins are absolutely toxic to cats. Avoid these products like the plague.
never wanted to know about fleas!
How long do fleas live?
The flea cycle doesn’t need a host to survive, because fleas eggs
When a live flea does have a host, it’s thought that its lifespan is a little over 5 months. That’s a long time for a tiny insect to be alive (and likely dozens of them, if not more), sucking the blood of your cat!
Even young fleas can survive for up to 8 weeks without a host in humid environments. This is why those living in warmer, more human environments are more prone to experience fleas, and why fleas are more prevalent during the warmer months of the year.
This hardiness shows you just why fleas are so tough and such survivors, and why they present such a challenge to get rid of at times. They’ve evolved to survive in difficult circumstances.
So if you’ve recently moved into a new place and you know your cat doesn’t have any fleas, there’s still a chance that fleas could be in the environment of your new home; either inside or outdoors.
cat fleas vs dog fleas – Are They The Same?
Yes, cats and dogs suffer from exactly the same types of fleas. If you have both cats and dogs, it goes without saying that they all need to be treated for fleas.