Fact checked by a Hello Ralphie expert veterinarian
Fleas are a common external parasite that feed off your cat’s blood. Although they can create some health concerns, itchiness and allergic reactions on your cat’s skin is a common symptom. Some fleas even carry certain species of tapeworms, which make your cat susceptible to contracting parasitic infections.
The good news is there are many available products that can help protect your cat from getting new flea infections, as well as treat any pre-existing infections.
What types of flea treatments are available?
There are numerous types available. A virtual consult with a Hello Ralphie veterinarian can help you determine which products make the most sense for you and your feline friend.
Oral products usually come in pill or tablet form. These items, such as Capstar, tend to be used for rapidly treating existing infections.
Topical formulations are the most popular and easiest prescription flea treatment. They usually come as a liquid in a vial. The liquid formulation is applied to the skin on the back of your cat’s neck. These products are typically given once a month and are ideal for both treating existing infections and preventing new ones from developing.
Topical formulations sometimes include prevention for other parasites, such as mites. A Hello Ralphie veterinarian can help consult on which products, such as Advantage or Revolution, are best for your cat’s needs.
Alternatively, a flea collar or a flea bath can treat and prevent fleas, although most collars and flea shampoos don’t work as effectively and have high risks to your cat.
How long after flea treatment can I pet my cat?
You can usually cuddle and pet your cat immediately after receiving an oral flea prevention medication. Topical products can take a few hours to soak into the skin layer.
Avoid petting your cat for 24-48 hours in the spot where you applied a topical medication. These treatments aren’t harmful for humans, but it’s important that as little as possible is removed from the cat and soaked through human skin.
Additionally, your cat should remain dry for at least 24 hours after a topical flea medication has been applied. Avoid applying the treatment if your cat goes outside in snowy or rainy weather. Alternatively, keep your cat inside for 24 hours after applying the medicine to his or her skin
Should I worry about Fleas?
Fleas don’t generally like to live on humans, but they can occasionally bite. Flea bites tend to occur around the ankles and feet. Contact your family physician if you suspect you have flea bites.
How often should I apply flea prevention?
It depends on which formulation you decide to use for your cat. Most oral medications are used every 1-3 months that can vary by brand. The standard time frame for applying topical medications is usually every 30 days, but this can depend on the brand used.
Climate and lifestyle play a large role in determining how often you should use a flea prevention or flea treatment. Warm and humid climates tend to have a higher risk of fleas. In general, most cats should be on flea prevention year round.
If your cat frequently goes outside, interacts with other cats, or hunts rodents, they may be at risk of catching fleas more than indoor cats, although indoor only cats are still at risk. A Hello Ralphie veterinarian can help you decide the frequency of which you should be applying flea treatments to your cat as well as provide you personalized flea product recommendations.
Is there anything else I can do to protect my cat against fleas?
Make sure every animal in your household has been treated for fleas. If one pet has an infection, it’s likely the others will contract one, too.
Fleas can jump off their hosts and lay eggs in areas around your home, such as carpets and inside wood flooring. These flea eggs can lay dormant for a while before they hatch into flea larvae and develop into adults, which can hop back onto your cat.
If your pet has had fleas, diligently clean and disinfect the house after the initial flea treatment. Make sure any bedding is washed, couches and carpets are vacuumed, and floors are disinfected.
Depending on which flea treatment or prevention product you select, your cat may need a few doses to make sure no new infections arise from leftover fleas. Speak with a Hello Ralphie veterinarian regarding which treatment option and duration is best for your cat if you think your pet has had fleas.
You can also consider deworming your feline friend. Fleas can also pass along tapeworm eggs that may cause tapeworm infection in your cat if they accidentally consume the fleas. Read more about cats and worms here.
For more tips and personalized advice about a flea prevention program for your chat, make a virtual advice appointment with a Hello Ralphie veterinarian.