My cat was acting strangely, leaping all over the house. We hadn’t been paying her as much attention since the baby was born, so we didn’t notice until it was too late that our poor kitty was infested with fleas. Soon they were all over the house. Flea baths and Frontline were not working. I found a flea bite on my baby’s chubby cheek. Those fleas had to go and they had to go fast. This was war.
I have learned that the best way to get rid of fleas is to treat your house and cat simultaneously and thoroughly. There are a few stages to a flea’s life cycle, so your strategy must attack eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. There are many products available to aid this process, but many of them are not effective and actually quite dangerous. The following seven techniques rid my home of fleas within two weeks.
Frost is Nature’s way of managing the flea population. That is why they love your nice warm house! Hanging carpets outside to encounter a morning frost will naturally and safely kill most of those little buggers.
Part of why our flea population was so suddenly out-of-control might have been that our vacuum cleaner had been broken for several months. Vacuuming frequently and immediately disposing of the contents away from your home will physically remove much of the problem.
Between vacuuming there are many things that can be sprinkled onto the floor, on carpets, under furniture and couch cushions, etc, which can make your home less habitable for fleas. Borax cuts their exoskeletons and diatomaceous earth (amorphous silica) works into their bodies between the joints and eventually suffocates them. It is cruel, but effective. Flea powders are poisonous and don’t work well. Many people claim that salt and dried herbs rubbed into the carpets can help to deter fleas. I tried basil, and though I can’t prove whether it directly helped with the fleas, it smelled very nice!
4.) Set traps.
A shallow dish with water and a little dish detergent should be set on the floor wherever your pet spends most of her time. Place a desk lamp above it so the bare bulb is close enough to warm the water. Fleas are attracted to warm, moist places and will drown in the water. Your pet won’t drink it because of the detergent. This really works! I set one up in the nursery at night to keep the fleas away from the wee one. I knew our flea problem was truly under control when the traps weren’t catching anything anymore.
5.) Bathe your pet with dishwashing liquid.
Apparently, dishwashing liquid is deadly to fleas! We bathed our kitty with expensive flea baths that did not work and could have caused her great harm, when all along simple dishwashing liquid would have done the trick! Adding a little neem oil can soothe bites and condition the fur to be less inviting to fleas. Also, there are combs which are made especially for removing fleas from fur.
6.) Change your pet’s diet.
I have heard that adding brewer’s yeast and garlic to your pet’s diet can make their blood unappetizing to fleas. A sprinkle of brewer’s yeast has nutritional value, too, but garlic can be upsetting to some animals, especially cats, and should only be used temporarily during an infestation.
7.) Use chemicals as a last resort.
There are medicines that you can give your pet which contain hormones that break the flea life-cycle, but please use caution. Some over-the-counter topical applications, notably Hartz, have killed many beloved animals. Many applications now require prescription because there is some evidence that over-use may be causing them to lose their effectiveness. For instance, my cat was on Frontline when she contracted the fleas. Please ask your veterinarian for advice.
Flea collars are generally ineffective, can cause neurological problems and pose a choking hazard. Even collars made with natural ingredients, like citrus and eucalyptus, can be as annoying to your pet as the fleas.
Spray area treatments are better than bombs because you have more control over where it is applied. Therefore, you can treat the flea larvae hiding under radiators and door jams, and you can avoid contaminating countertops and ….computer keyboards. We used Knock-Out spray. It was the very last can at our veterinarian’s office. Apparently there is an especial flea epidemic around Connecticut this year …or the veterinarian’s office forgot to reorder their spray area treatments.
If you find the need to use a chemical treatment, please use caution and follow safety instructions. When my husband sprayed the house we all left for the day.
8.) Pet your pet, every day!
Once your house is rid of fleas, it is possible to maintain that flea-free state by keeping your pets healthy and your house clean. My kitty-cat is my best friend, and I promise never again to go a day without giving her some proper loving attention. Noticing those fleas before they become a problem can save our pets a lot of suffering.